It is a truth universally acknowledged that the most important arrow in a support agent’s quiver is a flair for communication. It is a prerequisite for any candidate who interviews with Freshdesk for a customer support role, and it is a quality that can make or break your career in any customer-facing role.
If you have been in the support game long enough, you’ll know there’s a world of difference between talking to customers over chat or phone and talking to them through email.
Unlike other channels, when you exchange emails with your customers, all they see from you is a wall of text. Not to mention, the longer wait. Sometimes, they even end up talking to different people in the same thread.
For all of these reasons and so many more, it’s much harder for you to show customers that you want to help them over email… hard to prove that you’re, in fact, a real live human being who cares.
Some people are naturally good at doing this; they are exceptionally polite and clear with their emails. They leave no room for misinterpretation, whether it comes to their tone or if it has something to do with passing detailed instructions.
If you aren’t there yet, fret not. You can either learn these things on the job, by accumulating bits of wisdom over several years…
….Or you can jumpstart the learning curve by pooling your knowledge with ours to divine the art of writing emails that customers love.
Highlight the key parts and keep it short
Don’t dither. Respect the customer’s time and make your email as short as it can be. If you can use a screenshot to illustrate your point, do it.
Make it as easy as possible for your customer to get the point of the email. Don’t go for pages in the interest of building a rapport.
Be concise and precise; highlight the key parts so that a quick skim is all that your customer needs to know what you’re talking about.
A notification that the finance team is reviewing his refund request? Highlight the word ‘review’ and the time by which he can expect a response.
Say thanks and mean it
Most support emails begin with ‘Thank you for writing to us with your query’, a sentiment that I’m sure the support rep does mean but I’ve always thought it to be an incomplete and improperly expressed sentiment. What better expresses it is something like, ‘Thank you for using our app’ or ‘Thank you for sticking around and not giving up on us’.
Thanking them for “submitting” their idea or writing to you is just incomplete and insincere, in comparison. Personalising your thank you sentence goes a long way in showing your customers that you are a real, live human being who actually cares as opposed to a soulless automaton just going through the motions.
Avoid information globs
If your email reads like an essay instead of a paragraph, weep a little, discard the draft and schedule a call with the customer. If your screencast goes on for over 8 minutes, weep a little, discard your video and schedule a call with the customer. If your solution has more than ten points, weep a little, discard the….you get the point.
If your email looks like an information glob, set up a call with the customer and walk him through the whole process via a screen share/screen grab.
If you can access his screen through some remote access app and do it for him, better. Make life easier for the customer, not harder.
Dejargonize your emails
No one likes a Jargon Jane or a Buzzword Barry. The lesser the jargon in your email, the better. The problem with most support emails is that the rep usually assumes that everyone who uses the product know as much as they do. And that’s how jargon/buzzword packed emails are born. However, I would also not recommend that you swing to the other extreme and make your email very very basic, as though you were addressing someone whose only knowledge of the Internet is secondhand.
Read between the lines of the email and try to get a good sense of whether the person sounds knowledgeable or unsure. Google them if you’re still not sure about their level of expertise. And don’t forget to talk like a normal human being; as Buffer shows us with every email, a combination of casual language and cheer is the key to a customer’s heart.
Avoid emoji overload
While emojis and GIFs help break the ice and liven things up, they can also be seriously detrimental to your user experience.
The use of emojis or excited GIFs when you’re turning down a feature request or intimating something serious just makes you seem unprofessional and juvenile.
Our advice? Check to make sure if the situation is appropriate before unleashing your favorite corgi GIF.
Steer clear of courtesies like ‘My sincere apologies’ and ‘Looking forward to hearing from you again’
While you have nothing but goodness in your heart when you’re typing out the phrase ‘my sincere apologies’, unfortunately, the sentiment not only does not help you express your ardent apologies but it actively works against them. We also wouldn’t recommend ‘looking forward to hearing from you again’. It’s no reflection on you or your product but no one wants to hear that. Just imagine your doctor telling you that.
So, before you shoot out your email, take a quick minute to run through the email and make sure your courtesies are appropriate.
In Search of Perfection
And while we’re on the subject of run throughs, as much as we’d like to pretend we’re attentive and thorough every second of every work day, we’re not. There are days when no amount of coffee will help you out of your grogginess, days when you aren’t at your 100% best and it manifests in your work as typos, grammatical errors and factual errors.
Nothing major but tiny things like spelling “receive” as “recieve” or not correcting your computer when it tries to get you into the AutoCorrect Hall of Fame. Or forgetting to attach the document after promising to send it over; thus necessitating the awkward situation where you have to follow up your original email almost immediately with a second email with the attachment thus making you seem like the world’s most awkward klutz.
The above situations might not seem like a big deal but they matter in the scheme of things.
It’s the little things that matter when it comes to user experience.
One lousy interaction is all that it takes to jar the customer out of the sugar-spun fantasia that you’ve worked so hard to create.
So, the next time you think you’re not running with guns loaded and ready to go, take a gander at this list before you hit “Send”:
- Grammar check – Is your email grammatically correct? If you can’t get a teammate to sit down and help you sort out if it’s “had been” or “was” in the situation, Grammarly or MS Word should do the job just as well, if not better.
- Attachment check – Have you attached everything you wanted to attach? Don’t be the klutz. Seriously. Don’t be the klutz.
- Code check – Have you checked if the code you’re copying is correct? Even a missing parenthesis can wreak a lot of havoc. Not to mention, confusion.
- Link check – Does the hyperlink work? Nothing annoys me more than receiving an email with a broken link.
- Name check – Have you referred to the customer correctly? We recommend a double check, nay, a triple check if it’s a complex name that you don’t recognize. And while you’re at it, check if it’s the name he likes to go by. Empires have fallen because people have sent emails with “Hello James” to Henry James, instead of “Hello Henry”.
- New reply check – Check if you’ve avoided an embarrassing booboo like shooting out a reminder to the customer minutes after the customer sent you a reply with the information you asked for and the only reason you didn’t know it is because you didn’t hit refresh before you shot out the email? You’d think this is uncommon but it is not.
- Question check – Have you answered all the questions the customer has raised? The extra mile in this case would be answering all possible questions as well and covering your bases.
To sum up, be polite, be concise and don’t overload the customer with info. And make sure you run through your email a couple of times before you hit “Send” (even if you have “Undo Send”). There! That’s all there is to it. We’ve (hopefully) started you off on the path to greatness.
However, we’ll be the first to admit that no one can achieve complete mastery over an art and we’ve probably missed out on a couple of in-your-face pointers that can really help when you’re on deck. If you can spot one, drop us a note in the comments down below and we’ll add it to our kbase.