With each step that our industry takes into the future, we rely more heavily on tried-and-true platforms like customer service emails to solve customer dilemmas.
Many might tell you that email is too impersonal to deliver the kind of excellent customer service that people expect, but when you carefully craft your emails to be considerate and quick, there’s little that you can do to provide a better experience.
Consider these tips, tricks, and templates before you make any decisions relegating customer service emails to the past in favor of newer technologies. Sometimes it’s the old standards that do the best work.
11 tips for writing better customer service emails
Creating an excellent email strategy starts with identifying the critical aspects of writing a good email and building them into your team’s day-to-day practices. Here are some actionable tips for your team to consider and implement in your customer service email strategy.
1. Be human
When working with your support team members to improve their email strategies, encourage them to use language that feels natural. Contractions, slang, and even emojis are totally acceptable if they match the tone of the customer’s original message.
The more you allow your team to use their own language within customer service emails (while remaining professional, of course), the more natural the conversation will feel for your customers.
There’s another aspect of speaking humanly: Using the customer’s name. Using their name conveys that you see them as a person with an identity rather than just a faceless customer. The same goes for when your team members use their own names.
When customer service representatives use their names and identities for their signatures and avatars, it broadcasts individual people rather than faceless representatives for a big company. This level of identity can help deter customers’ problematic behavior and drive deeper relationship-building and mutual trust.
Humanize your responses as much as you can by encouraging your team members to be themselves, using language that feels natural, and recognizing that your customers are humans, too.
2. Be timely
When a customer reaches out, the amount of time it takes before your team responds or resolves the issue can have a tangible impact on their experience. Make it easy for your team members to find the answers they need and get them across to customers as quickly as possible.
There are a few things that can speed up the response process significantly:
- Excellent documentation
- Saved replies and macros
- Easy-to-understand escalation paths
- Ongoing team member training
Ensuring that your customer service team members can get to answers or escalate to appropriate team members quickly means that your customers will always get responses promptly. Because of that, they’ll feel respected, prioritized, and valued.
3. Apologize when needed
The first step to fixing a problem is an authentic and genuine apology. If a customer comes to your team and is upset or frustrated, take the time to hear them out and apologize.
Just like with any interpersonal interaction, hearing someone’s complaints and addressing them directly and kindly can have a significant impact on the success of your customer service emails.
A few other phrases to use are:
- Thank you for reaching out.
- I totally hear you.
- I’m sorry that you’re running into this.
- You’re right.
- I understand completely.
- I get where you’re coming from.
If the issue is something that your company dropped the ball on, take ownership and be sure to address it as you respond.
For instance, if there’s a bug because of a feature your product team just released, acknowledge that this is your company’s fault, and start to work toward a solution. It feels disingenuous to apologize for something but not fix the issue.
4. Get the necessary information right away
If it’s evident right away when reading an email that there isn’t enough information to resolve the issue, ask for more. For instance, if the entirety of the email is “I’m having trouble with your product and I need your help,” ask for information and look for context around which part of the product they are referring to.
Many companies have built-in tracking to let customer service team members see precisely where a customer was in the product before reaching out to support, so consider referencing that when coming up against tricky tickets like this one.
Some companies choose to ask for additional information from the start with an email acknowledgment autoresponder. This response automatically gets sent out to customers as soon as their email is received.
Typically it sets expectations for response times and office hours for the team, but it can also include documentation to answer common questions and prompts for additional information (more info on this below).
Getting as much information as possible, especially before your team even starts looking into the conversation, is a great way to address the customer’s question correctly the first time you respond.
5. Create consistency
It feels good to know what to expect in most situations in life — and it’s no different for your customers. One of the things you can do to improve your team’s customer service emails is to create consistency from one conversation to another.
After all, how much trust will you erode if one of your team members answers an inquiry entirely differently from how another one does?
Create policies, tone and style guides, and saved replies to ensure customers get the same experience every time. Be sure to review anything you put in place every few months to ensure that it’s still accurate and up to date.
Enact customer service team training so that all of your team members are well-equipped to use the tools you put in place. What use is a tool if no one knows it exists or how to use it?
When you create consistency, all of your email responses match your Twitter interactions, blog posts, and website content, and your customers always get the types of responses that they’ve become accustomed to.
6. Don’t take it personally
Customers reaching out to support can often view it as a safe venting space for whatever has gone wrong in their day. It’s not uncommon for emails to be a bit more aggressive than necessary.
A customer service agent never knows where customers are coming from when they email — all they can know is what’s right in front of them in the inquiry.
Remind your team members that it’s not necessarily them that the customer is angry at, but instead, at the situation they find themselves in. However, even with frequent reminders, it can sometimes be difficult to keep calm — especially in the face of what feels like irrational anger.
There are a few ways to take care of both your customers and your team members:
- Give team members an easy path to escalation.
- Let your team take mental health days as needed.
- Provide “out of the queue” time when things get tough.
- Empower team members with excellent training to de-escalate sticky situations.
- Fire customers who abuse your team members.
While it’s important to be kind and to understand where your customers are coming from, that doesn’t mean you should let them walk all over you. Encourage your team to be kind while also holding their boundaries.
7. Answer all the customer’s questions
Everyone’s received one of those emails that’s seven paragraphs long and has so many questions in it that it’s hard to keep track of all of them. Even if there aren’t a bunch of interspersed, unclear questions, it can still be hard to make sure that you answer everything in an email — but it’s essential.
One of the best things you can do for a customer is ensure that everything they ask in their email gets answered clearly and concisely the first time you reply. Check out our examples below for a great way to format this.
If you recognize that a conversation is complex and has tons of questions, be sure to read the original email over a few times before sending your response to make sure you’ve addressed all of their concerns.
8. Share resources when and where you can
Documentation is one of the best things you can send to a customer. Not only does it save your team time from typing the same response again and again, but it also empowers your customers to find information themselves the next time they run into trouble. People prefer not to have to reach out to support!
Try to send relevant documentation that can either support or give a more explicit example of your answer whenever you write an email. Documentation can include videos, links to other docs, and even contextual guidance within your product.
Sharing it with your customers means that you’ve given them the best chance for success, since multimedia documentation often meets different learning criteria better than just an email could.
Similarly, if you are working on an email and it starts turning into a novel, consider creating a document from it. This is doubly true if it’s an email that you write often or it seems super detailed beyond what you typically send to a customer.
Rather than stopping to create the documentation and delaying your customer’s response, consider creating a “backlog” of documents that need to be written. That way, any members of your team who have free time can decide to contribute.
Add the original content of the first email response that you wrote up as a starting point. A Trello or Asana board is a great place to keep a running list like this.
9. Speak clearly and concisely
While encouraging your team members to follow your tone and style guidelines and allowing them to find their own voices, it’s still important to encourage everyone to speak clearly and concisely in your customer service emails.
Some tips to use for concise, straightforward writing are:
- Consider breaking things down into easy-to-read lists instead of writing in long paragraphs.
- Ensure that your spelling, grammar, and punctuation are 100% accurate.
- Avoid negative phrases or judgment-loaded statements about the customer.
- Use a writing assistant like Grammarly to notify you of typos, misspellings, and run-on sentences and suggest changes.
- Send documentation and screenshots to help clarify.
- Take out unnecessary phrases like “I think,” and get directly to your point.
Not only will this make your emails easier to read, but they will also take less time to write.
10. Match the customer’s tone
Have you ever told someone terrible news and had them respond with a joke? Mismatched tones can be awkward at best and painful at worst. When your customer reaches out, try to match their style as closely as possible in your response. Note things like sentence structure, use of emojis and GIFs, and even exclamation points.
If your customer is all business or is on the edge of frustration, it’s probably not a great time to share your favorite “Bridesmaids” GIFs However, if your customer is all smiley faces, it might be okay to use a couple of extra exclamation points in your response.
By matching their tone, you’ll make them feel more understood and at ease than you would otherwise.
11. Proactively follow up
If you answer a customer inquiry and they don’t respond, especially if you’ve asked for more information or feedback in response, reach back out to follow up. This is especially true if they contacted you about a bug or product issue still being resolved.
A customer should never have to follow up with your team about a bug they reported. If you cannot respond to every customer individually, consider creating something like a tag that makes it easy to create a canned response that you send to everyone at once.
Even better is an interface where your customers can track requests, bugs, or outages in a single place, like Status Page or something similar.
It’s always the best policy to empower customers to find answers on their terms when they need them. Make your outage, bug, and feature request information open and transparent as a great way to take the extra work off your customers’ plates.
Customer service email templates and examples
A great customer service email strategy includes making reproducible, dependable responses. Saved replies, templates, and guides are great resources for your support team. Here are six examples of typical responses that you can make your own and add into your help desk to be reused.
Thanks so much for reaching out about this. I can see how [the feature they requested] could be helpful for you.
Right now, this feature isn't on our road map, but we have had other customers request it as well. I'm going to record your interest in this so that our product team can review it — please let me know if there is any additional context that you'd like me to share in my notes.
In the future, if you would like to add your own or follow along on the progress of other feature requests, we also have a feature request site you can use here: [website link].
Please let me know if there's anything more that I can do!
Acknowledgment of receipt
Thanks for reaching out to [Company Name]'s support team. Our working hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday. During those hours, we'll strive to get back to you within a few hours.
If you're reaching out on the weekend or outside of our regular working hours, we'll get back to you as soon as we're back at our desks. In the meantime, here are some links to documentation about common issues that might be helpful:
- Account management
- Canceling and refunds
- Shipping delays
If you still have questions that need a response from a team member, please be sure that you've included information about:
- Where on the site you are having trouble.
- The details of the issue that you are having.
- What operating system, browser, and device you are using.
- Any error messages that you have received.
- Any troubleshooting efforts that you've already made.
Thank you so much! We look forward to helping you out.
[Company] Support Team
Hi [Customer Name],
Thanks for reaching out and providing all that detail. It sounds like you've found a bug! I've checked with our engineering team, and they're currently looking into how we can resolve this. The crux of the issue is [explanation of the issue and what caused it].
As soon as I hear back from them on a more definitive timeline or we have a resolution, I'll reach out and let you know.
In the meantime, let me know if there's anything else that you have questions about or if something else pops up.
Asking for more information
Hi [Customer Name],
Thanks for reaching out — it sounds like you're running into a bit of trouble. I'd be happy to help. To get to the bottom of things, I just need a bit more information.
Would you mind sending me a screenshot of the error message that you're receiving and providing a bit more information about which browser, operating system, and device you're using?
There's some more information about how to take and attach a screenshot here: [link].
To find out the browser version you are using, follow these instructions: [link].
Once I have this information, I'll be able to better solve the issue.
Request for a refund
Thanks so much for reaching out. I've gone ahead and processed that refund for you. You can expect to see it in your bank account within the next five business days. If you don't see it by then, feel free to reach back out and let us know.
I'd love to hear a bit more about your experience and if there was anything that we could have done to make it better. We're always trying to improve here, and we’d love to hear your insights.
If not, no worries. Thanks for being a great customer while you were with us, and if there's anything we can help you with in the future, please don't hesitate to reach out.
A response to multiple questions
Hi [Customer Name],
I'm excited to help you get to the bottom of these questions! I've numbered your questions and put them in bold, and my responses are underneath in non-formatted text.
1. Question 1
2. Question 2
3. Question 3
4. Question 4
I think those are all the questions that you asked, but if I missed anything or if these opened up some other questions for you, let me know!
Practice makes perfect
One of the most important things to remember when improving anything is that practice makes perfect. Continue to evaluate your strategy and the work that you are doing through the lens of these best practices.
Implement repeatable processes and templates that your teammates can use to guarantee success. Regularly evaluate anything you have implemented for continued relevancy and success, and keep iterating to get better.