We all know how vital email templates or canned responses are to Contact Centre staff. Anyone working in customer services knows there can be a high volume of emails going back and forth with customers, the slower you are to respond the more chasers you get. For staff who handle a vast variety of queries from customers, templates can be an absolute godsend. It’s got to be straight forward for the staff though, having too many email templates is overkill, taking forever to find the right one with the least amount of edits needed. Not having enough is the same as not really having any at all, easier to write your own from scratch. Having these templates available often removes the personalisation from your response and won’t cover all of their questions or concerns.
What is challenging to get right is portraying the right message in your email, without having body language, facial expressions or tone of voice in your toolbox. Emails are more conversational than many other types of writing and it’s so easy to completely change the whole tone of an email by getting a few words, not quite right. The words themselves carry more feeling and many emails are read quickly by your customer on their tea break or after work and an inappropriate tone can distract your reader or obstruct the message you are trying to get across to them.
So how do we get it right? The quality of your writing reveals your attitude towards your response and therefore sets the tone for your email, or at least how your reader interprets your tone.
For starters, personalising your response to the customer is critical, addressing them with weird titles like ‘Dear valued customer’ gives the impression they are dealing with a robot, nobody wants that, it starts you off on the wrong foot. Respond to all the points they have raised, no matter how big or small. Active listening is a vital skill for an agent on the phone, the same applies to emails. Ensuring you read their questions or concerns and fully understand what they are asking you. Summarise the situation, by doing this you reassure them that you understand their situation. If you’re unsure of the issue, ask for confirmation, this is for their benefit anyway, make sure this is clear in your response. If you do need to do this, still respond to all the other points raised.
If your response is likely to be something that they don’t want to hear, make sure you put emphasis on what CAN be done, instead of what can’t be done or what has gone wrong. Try and put yourself in their shoes before pressing send, how would you feel? Identify what outcome they want and work towards that as much as you can. Make sure you use straight forward language, keep it simple, don’t complicate the response. If a customer has to reply to you and re-phrase their questions to get the answer they want then chances are they are going to be frustrated by this.
Chose a close that is appropriate to the tone of the email, for example a Complaint would probably be a more formal close than a customer service email where you can continue to build on the relationship with the customer.
Finally, read your email in full before pressing send, you’d be surprised what you pick up on with one final proof read that you missed the first time around.