You’ve Got E-mail – Answering Customer Complaints Effectively
8 months ago by

Customers have always been aware of the kind of customer support they are being provided, but now they also have platforms to discuss it on.  When complaints are poorly handled, customers will express their frustration over various channels such as social media and review sites. Take charge of the customer experience by regularly checking the quality of your organization’s customer service- from response time on queries to the type of communication being provided over support email. Zeroing in on email-based customer response, companies are now investing in customer service trainings to enhance their employees’ soft skills in this particular area. Well-trained customer-facing employees can build long-lasting relationships with clients on the basis of emails alone!

WHAT’S ON THE LINE: BRAND REPUTATION

Email, when done correctly, can form a record, establish expectations, clarify terms and eliminate any possible sources of miscommunication.  On the flip side, when an employee is unable to manage an email-based conversation efficiently, it can result in misunderstandings and unresolved issues- only adding to the customer’s frustration.

BANK ON IT: CUSTOM TRAINING SESSIONS

Start by enhancing your team’s email communication skills with customized customer service training programs that explore real-life scenarios. So much information that humans rely on to understand each other disappears once talking through email. The representative can no longer gauge the customer’s tone, facial expressions, or their accompanying body language. All that a customer service representative can depend on is their own interpretation of the written complaint or request. The representative has access to an entire toolbox of best practices when it comes to communicating with a client or customer effectively over email. Sufficient training will empower them to approach each e-mail based complaint like a true professional – which includes asking for clarification in case of any ambiguity.

LOOK AT THE TIME: PUNCTUALITY

Second only to a customer-centric attitude, punctuality is a key requirement for a successful email-based customer support system. According to a report by Forrester Research Inc.,  more than forty percent of consumers expect a reply back on email within six hours, only thirty-six percent of retailers’ customer service teams are able to fulfill that expectation. What is even more shocking is that fourteen percent of all consumer emails end up in a black hole and never get a response!  While automated replies help buffer the delay between a customer complaint and a personalized response, your team should prioritize answering all emails as comprehensively as possible the same day.

‘LISTENING’ SKILLS FOR EMAILS

As the saying goes, ‘the first impression is the last impression’ so your agents should greet the customer warmly with a personalized salutation. Depending on your type of business and the industry it belongs to, your team members can use the customer’s first name as a part of their greeting. After thanking the customer for taking the time out to point out a concern or register a complaint, move on swiftly to addressing their problem at hand. ‘Echo’ the customer’s listed issues in the body paragraphs, but also punctuate each issue with a proposed solution or status update.

If there is any confusion in what the customer’s request is, the agent should not hesitate in asking a few questions and sending back a brief reply. It is a good idea for them to wait for a response with a clarification before providing answers to the client. Your customer support agents should always respond to an email inquiry, even if the customer’s question can easily be answered by browsing carefully through the company’s website.

Being detail-oriented is important, however too much detail in an email can become distracting. Every email written from your company’s end should include all the relevant information, including links, infographics, and even step-by-step instructions without the use of complicated technical jargon.

While we may be communicating virtually, the rules for written communication have not changed much when it comes to the conclusion. When the representative starts to wrap up their email, the use of phrases that offer further assistance and encourage the customer’s convenience leave a positive impression. Just like it was when we used to write letters by hand, there needs to be a sign-off with a ‘best regards’ or ‘sincerely’ before ‘virtually’ signing one’s name. Each customer support agent can also attach a personalized email signature to each email.

Once the email response to a customer has been drafted, the agent should take at least three minutes to re-read and proofread their email for any spelling or grammatical errors. In addition to removing any embarrassing mistakes, this is an ideal opportunity to fix the paragraph formatting and to double-check any links or attachments to the email.

Taking the time to regularly polish your customer service team’s email communication skills is always a good idea. Especially when new hires are brought on board, email writing training enables the management to review all customer service-related best practices for the benefit of the entire support team.


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