As customer expectations continue to rise, support teams need to deliver a reliable, high-quality experience across every channel – including email.
Bringing your email support strategies in line with your customer experience goals enables your team to use their time more productively, handle inquiries faster, and minimize backlog.
Plus, a strong email support strategy boosts satisfaction and loyalty by empowering your agents to consistently meet or exceed customer expectations.
Let’s take a look at nine ways you can effectively take control of your support inbox and integrate email support into your larger customer service strategy.
Amazing support begins by establishing a personal connection with each customer. This can be a bit more challenging with someone you only communicate with via email, but it’s still possible if you make a point to acknowledge the customer and make them feel heard.
The best way to build a personal connection over email? Tailor every message and be as personable as possible. Don’t send a generic ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ greeting; use their name! Write as though you’re speaking directly to the customer; make them feel important and valued.
When possible (and relevant), include additional personal information to build a stronger relationship. For instance, you might comment on how many years they’ve been a customer, mention their company by name and ask about a specific aspect of the business, or reference any past interactions they’ve had with your customer service team.
Another way to build a more personal connection is to respond as an individual person, rather than as the company or an anonymous member of the support team. Introduce yourself, sign off using your first or full name, and make sure you have a sender photo, so the customer can see that you’re a real human.
People connect with other people, so it pays off to be human. Customers tend to be more patient when they know they’re interacting with a real person, rather than a robot or an automated response. Putting a face and a name to the support agent, they’re interacting with reminds the customer that you’re human and capable of empathizing with their situation.
Regardless of what a customer has to say or how they convey it, they’re doing you a favor by emailing support. Customer feedback is always valuable – so make a point to thank every customer who shares their experience or brings a problem to your attention.
Because here’s the thing: most people who have a negative experience with your business won’t bother to tell you about it. A study by Lee Resources International found that for every customer who voices a complaint, 26 will leave without saying anything.
That means only 1 out of every 27 customers will reach out to support with an issue – while the others will simply leave without telling you why. The one person who takes the time to email your support team might alert you to bugs or issues that would otherwise go under the radar and scare off even more customers.
When a customer emails you with a specific concern or problem, the last thing they want is a vague or generic response. They want your reply to explicitly acknowledge their situation.
So, always state the problem back to the customer. Acknowledge that the issue must be frustrating or that you can understand what they’re experiencing. Ask clarifying questions if you need to so that you fully comprehend the problem and can provide an appropriate solution.
Though it might seem redundant to repeat the issue in your response, it shows that you fully understand the situation and gives the customer an opportunity to add any details that may have been left out or rephrase anything that was poorly explained in their original message.
The key to effective support is clear communication. After all, you can’t help your customers if they don’t understand you.
So, before you hit send on your next support email, proofread it for any glaring grammar or spelling mistakes. A free tool like Grammarly or spellcheck in Microsoft Word can be a lifesaver when it comes to catching overlooked spelling mistakes and errant commas.
You should also pay attention to sentence structure and keep your explanations as simple as possible. Keep sentences short, break up long paragraphs into several smaller ones, use bullet points and lists wherever appropriate. The best email support is easy to skim and provides specific instructions for what the customer should do next.
Obviously, it’s important that your support emails include all the necessary information. However, none of your customers want to read a wall of text.
To keep your email from getting too long or text-heavy, use visual aids that help your customer understand the solution. You should also avoid overexplaining the problem to keep your emails on the short side.
If you can’t succinctly describe the solution in a single email, consider linking to more detailed instructions. Whether you link to your knowledge base or specific product page, just double check that all of your links work and that you actually attach any PDFs mentioned in the email.
Just because you’re responding to a support issue, doesn’t mean your email support should focus on the negative. In fact, you’ll create a much better customer experience by framing your response as a solution and a way to move forward.
How can you do this? By making sure every support email starts and ends with positive language. Remove any words that could be interpreted negatively and replace them with more positive phrases.
You should also shift the focus from the problem at hand to the solution you’re providing. For instance, it helps to explain what actions are being taken to address the issue. Not only does this reassure the customer that you are taking their concerns seriously, but it sets expectations about next steps and how long it might take to reach a complete resolution.
Whenever possible, give customers a firm date for when they can expect to hear back from you again. This can reduce incoming messages because the customer is less likely to send a barrage of “check-in” emails following up on the status of their issue.
One of the best ways to make your email support operations more efficient is to use automated email routing. This ensures every incoming message is sent directly to the team member who can answer it best.
Another easy way to increase efficiency is to send pre-written replies to routine questions. Since plenty of support interactions involve questions that you’ve already answered for another customer, you should create canned responses to common support questions.
While it’s important to personalize each support interaction as much as you can, you need to strike a balance between personalization and efficiency. Using automation and pre-written responses speed up your response time, reduces backlog, and allows your support agents to focus their time on bigger problems.
Beyond knowing what to say to a customer, you need to know how to respond. When it comes to email support, that means picking up on the tone of a customer’s message. How do they feel about the problem at hand? Are they upset or stressed out? Or is the issue simply a mild inconvenience that they’ve been meaning to bring to your attention for a while now?
Even if you automate some of your responses, it’s important to read the room, so to speak, so you can reply appropriately. That means being strategic about when you use canned replies and always making an effort to customize certain aspects of each support email (like the greeting, name, and sign off).
Keep in mind, however, that personalization is more important when the customer’s tone or experience is negative. For instance, a customer who’s happy with the product and writes to you with a routine question won’t need the same level of personalized attention as an irate customer with an urgent issue.
If a customer writes in a negative tone, you should address the emotion. State that you’re doing everything possible to remedy the situation and reassure them that you’re on their side.
Improving your email support brings your team one step closer to providing a seamless customer service experience. If you want to learn more about providing email support that truly delivers, drop your email below to sign up for our monthly newsletter. You’ll get the latest and greatest content from our blog sent straight to your inbox.