Living in today’s automated world often leaves consumers yearning for a real,
live person when they have customer service issues. As a small business owner,
you don’t have to bemoan the growth of technology in customer interactions. If
done correctly, email is a great platform to provide personalized customer
service — and small businesses have a huge advantage over large competitors.
Here are some of our best bits of advice for responding to customer service
issues through email:
1. Respond to email within one business day. If a customer
takes the time to contact you, don’t wait to reply, even if it’s simply to let
the person know you’ve received the message and are working on a response. If
you can’t solve the problem in your initial email, give a realistic time frame
of when you’ll be able to respond with a solution.
2. Use templates, but personalize them. When dealing with
customer service issues, you probably send a lot of the same types of emails. It
makes sense to create templates for common issues, especially if multiple people
within your company handle customer service emails. Be sure to personalize the
templates though, or you’ll risk seeming like a large, automated customer
service department within a big business. Follow a template, but use customers’
names and include information about their specific issues. Sign each email with
a real person’s name and signature to make it more personal.
3. Develop email guidelines. Think of it as an employee
handbook for online communications. Email can be less formal than other types of
communication, but employees must be reminded to remain professional. Emails to
customers shouldn’t include jokes, profanity or political statements. Even
though email can be more conversational and casual, you should always use
correct grammar, punctuation and spelling. (And don’t 4get to remind ppl not to
use txt shorthand.)
4. Make sure you understand the problem before
you send a response. Customers often write garbled and
hard-to-understand emails explaining their problem. You might think you
understand what they’re asking, and then discover two other issues when you
reread the message. If you handle a customer service issue over the phone, you
can talk about it and uncover the real issue. But you have to be twice as
careful to find the real issue through email. Ensure you’ve resolved the problem
before you send a response, or you risk frustrating the customer even more.
5. Follow up after you’ve resolved the
issue. This small step takes little time and can make a great
impression. A few days after the issue has been resolved, send a brief follow-up
email to make sure the customer is still satisfied with the resolution.