12 Tips To Improve Your Email Customer Service
Email can help you reach those customers who usually do not have time to talk over the phone.
Customer service by email can be beneficial for any size business. Email can help you reach those customers who usually do not have time to talk over the phone. Email is also a good starting point for new businesses since it saves money on phone hardware or software, saves time being able to send one email to multiple recipients, and companies can gain many leads. Email customer service can even lead to an increase in revenue if done correctly. Here are a few tips to make sure your business succeeds through email.
Structure and Formatting Matters
You want to make the emails easy to read. No one wants to open an email and sort through tons of paragraphs — especially those busy customers who'd rather it get to the point so they can go about their day. That is why it is best to structure your emails so your customer can quickly sort through information with a salutation, opening, body, closure, and signature, in separate paragraphs.
A salutation is just a simple hello: "Hello John," using their first name to make it more personal, followed by a comma.
A successful opening consists of a few parts: thank you, appreciation, willingness to help, and acknowledgment. You would first thank them for taking their time to email your company: "Thank you for inquiring about our services." Then showing appreciation, "We appreciate you as a customer," or "We appreciate you taking your time to email us." Showing a willingness to help and acknowledgment can be summed in one sentence: "I'd be happy to assist you with a refund." Or you can split it: "I understand you need help with getting a refund. I'd be glad to help you further!"
The body addresses their concerns in paragraphs. If there are multiple questions asked, make sure each is addressed in separate paragraphs. Also, tons of paragraphs can be exhausting for customers. If you can combine short responses in one, that is completely acceptable. If you find the body getting too long with more than four paragraphs, try to shorten the sentences or share your FAQ page if there is one.
The closure typically consists of a short statement, questions you have for the customer, or a call to action. "I hope I clarified some things for you (statement). So that I can look up services in your area, what is your zip code (question)?" "If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to reply (call to action)."
Close with a professional signature that states your first and last name (or last initial) and your position. You can also leave your phone number, but it is best to leave it out if you aim to cut down your call volume. Add your company logo and website, so your customer has easy access to web content. Here is an example of a good signature:
John Doe - Phone Number Specialist
Save Most Common Responses
It is very common to have repetitive emails in which you use the same response. It is best to save those responses to cut down the response rate. Some email systems such as Front you may be able to save a template or canned response. Otherwise, you can keep your most common responses in a notepad application on your computer so you can easily copy and paste. That way, there is less room for error.
Some people become very anxious and impatient through email. Let's say a customer fills out a form on your website for help via email; they also want to know their email was received. Turning on auto-response helps boost response rates and immediately acknowledges someone will get back with them shortly. If there is no auto-response, the customer may send another email asking if we have received their previous email, filling up your inbox to sort through later.
Make it Sound Exciting
You want to grab the customer's attention by making your email sound more enticing. You can do this in several ways, such as an exclamation mark "!" in the appropriate place. For example: "Thank you for reaching out!" Another way is to include the magic phrase, "I have great news!". For instance, if someone is inquiring if there are open slots for an appointment, you can say, "I have great news! We have an available appointment open on Friday." It will make the customer more prone to respond.
You can also include color elements such as a call to action button to direct them to a particular page on your website. It is best to use neutral colors or your company's color scheme to avoid the email looking like spam.
Subject Line Matters
The first thing people see when they open their inbox is the subject line. If the subject line is not enticing enough, the customer may delete the email without even opening it. Some companies incorporate the customer's first name in the subject line, which can be effective in most cases. But also, what is essential are keywords. Using keywords such as free, today, sale, or even "your" can be useful. For example, "Get Your Free Product Today" sounds better than "Hi Sandy." in the subject line. Or "A Customized Deal Just for You" is a lot more alluring.
Ask to Clarify, Aim to Sell
There are times where you will not understand what the person is trying to say in an email. You can kindly state that you are not quite sure what they mean and ask to rephrase. For instance, "Thank you for reaching out! I'd be happy to assist you in any way possible. I do apologize, but I am having a hard time understanding what you are looking for. Do you mind rephrasing, please?" The good thing about a vague email is you can turn it into a sale, using a call to action link/button to a product page. For instance, you can ask: "Were you looking for our current deals? Click on the link below to get 20% off select items."
Use ALL CAPS Wisely
All caps can be useful in the right places, but can often offend customers. Writing a sentence in all caps can make the other party feel you are yelling or frustrated. Let's say you email a customer for clarification, and they respond vaguely, ignoring your question. You may get frustrated and decide to respond using all caps: I DO APOLOGIZE, BUT DO YOU MIND REPHRASING YOUR QUESTION PLEASE? How does that look to you? The customer will more than likely not respond, say you are being rude, or respond in all caps fighting fire with fire. Therefore, use caps when necessary only for keywords such as "FREE," "DEAL," "TODAY," "30% OFF," "FREE SHIPPING," etc.
Customers will state their concerns and, at times, their life's struggles with you through email. Although it may be intimidating responding to such situations, it is best to acknowledge their concerns professionally to show them that you care about them as an individual. But what is most significant is empathy. Expressing empathy lets the customer know you truly understand and are here to help. Let's say a customer is upset they didn't get a payment confirmation of a product they purchased from your website. You can show empathy, saying: "I do apologize you did not get a confirmation email. As a consumer myself, I would be frustrated as well." Then offer a willingness to help "I'd be happy to get this resolved for you asap!"
Use Tags and Folders
Just about every email platform use tags and folders for the use of the organization. They also help to pull data in helpdesk platforms such as Zendesk and Salesforce. You can create tags to keep track of specific email campaign responses. For instance, you make an email to promote a product and want to test out two different emails. You can tag the first batch "campaign 1" to go back and check out the responses to make appropriate changes for the next batch.
Always keep the customer informed and give time frames. A great way to keep the customer notified is creating an automated message as stated above, but also include the timeframe of when they can expect to hear back from you. It is best to keep your response time within 24 hours. Customers may get impatient and want to call in or send another email. It is also good to follow-up on a stale email conversation with customers who stopped responding. You can say in the opening: "Hello, how are you? I didn't get a response, is there anything I can clarify for you?" You never know if they forgot or just didn't understand something from the previous email.
Know When to Offer a Phone Call
Sometimes, it is tough to portray certain concepts to a customer, and it could become tedious going back through email. At that point, it is best to offer a phone call. There are platforms such as Calandy that let you send a link to the customer to schedule a phone call with your team. Or you can simply send the phone number and ask the customer to call in to have their questions answered by a live representative. You may say: "How are you? I didn't get a response, is there anything I can clarify for you? You can also give me a call at xxx-xxx-xxxx to speak with a LIVE representative. We look forward to hearing from you."
Check Your Work
Fine-tune your email by re-reading as often as possible. Most email platforms have a spell check built in, but you can take it a step further with editing programs for grammar such as Grammarly. Another good tip is imagining you are the customer reading the email for the first time. You may want to change up a few words or split up a few long paragraphs, or even want to bold a particular word or phrase to make it easier to read. There may be an email you aren't sure is a good response in which you can save it as a draft, take a 5 min break to refresh your brain, and go back and check it out.
To sum it up, always remain professional. Typically if you are unsure about something, have a colleague read it over. Always remember the goal of the email. For instance, if you are trying to sell a product, get into the habit of inserting a call-to-action. You are trying to make things easier for your customer, not harder. If you find yourself going back and forth with a customer in a long email thread, offer a phone call. It is not worth losing a customer through email if it is not working out for them. I hope these tips help. Good luck!
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