Support

How to Write a Customer Service Email

Jacob Firuta and Weronika Masternak
19 min read
Feb 18, 2021
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The longevity of email communication is a heavily debated topic. I'm sure you've heard claims that "email is dead" and that you should drop it for new technologies and communication channels, such as social media. However, many teams still use email, and it's not that surprising, to be honest. Email messages are really convenient. Write one, send it, and move on to the next thing on your to-do list while waiting for an answer.

Email is still one of the significant customer service channels, and some of your customers will use it to get in touch with you. Data shows that as many as 62% of customers will pick email to contact a customer service agent. Emails are also an integral part of any multichannel customer service strategy.

As long as customers get the answers on time, it's all good. The trouble starts when you're late in responding or when your email is vague. You fail to meet your customers' expectations, leaving them with an unresolved case. Let these situations become a thing of the past. Read on to start writing better customer service emails so you don’t let your customers down.

Customer service email etiquette

Customer service emails are support and sales messages intended to solve a specific issue. Have in the back of your mind that if you include an email address on your website, you can expect customer service emails. The back-and-forth nature of emails will give you a bit of wiggle room in terms of response time.

A joint survey conducted by SuperOffice and Toister Performance Solutions shows that 31.2% of customers surveyed want a response in one hour or less. Some of them don't mind a 24-hour response time. So, the expected response time for emails is between 1-24 hours.

No matter how long it takes to reply to an email, you should always remember one thing: Make your email personal. You want to sound like a real person, not a machine that has been programmed to give completely dry answers all day long. If there's one golden rule for writing useful customer service emails, it’s adding a personal touch to every response. That's the secret ingredient. The secret sauce. Any customer service situation, no matter how dire, can be defused with personalized support.

Find out how to write a customer service email. Let's go step-by-step through an eight-point list of things you can do to make your email response more personal and professional.

1. Using a formal or informal style in an email

Use the data you've collected about your customer, and then decide what type of conversation you want to have. Having a formal or informal style for your email will determine its overall structure

You interact with many customers regularly and see how they react and communicate differently depending on many factors.  For example, your customer will find themselves in different situations that make them happy or frustrated. Because they're having a good or bad day, they’ll say words that bluntly show this. Also, consider the email etiquette, cultural differences, and terminology that your customer uses every day. Some expressions your customer says will come as a surprise to you. That's why you need to understand who your customers are culturally. Be aware of the proper customs of the audience you interact with to show cultural respect.

Using a formal style is the safe option, but it often doesn't sound personal or like it came from a real person. Going informal is a bit of a risk-reward situation. You can gain trust by preparing personalized informal replies, but you also risk angering some customers.

To decide which style to use, pay attention to a couple of things. First, try to empathize with your customer and notice their emotions and intentions. Next, you need to be aware of your audience. If you want to provide good customer service to a very traditional industry, such as the medical field, it's hard to imagine that an informal response will work well. The same thing happens in the other direction. If you run a paintball course, it's hard to see how a formal approach would be the best option.

My advice is to choose the communication style depending on the specific customer’s case and your brand's tone of voice. Pay attention to small cues, the way the customer addresses you, and how they phrase their sentences. If it appears that you're dealing with a customer who expects a formal approach, mirror their behavior by making appropriate changes in your communication. 

2. Greeting the customer

At this point, you've decided whether you want to keep it formal or informal. Now, let's go ahead and greet your customer. The email's greeting sets the tone for the entire message, so don't mess it up. 

Opening your message with a hearty "Hello" and not getting straight to the point is the first step you can take to make your emails more personal. Far too many customer service emails read like businesses are being charged a huge amount for every character in the email and that they're trying to save money on the greeting. You don't want to make that impression. Choose your email opening from this list with the best greetings for an email.

3. Addressing the customer by name

If you know your customer's personal information, you should use it during the conversation. To make your message more personal, start with their first name or Mr./Ms. and their last name if you're dealing with a very traditional industry. This will add another layer for building a relationship with your customer. 

Don't know your customer's name? Just use the greeting itself. Don't make communication less personal by using strange titles like "customer" or, even worse, referring to the customer by a case number. Nothing screams "we're robots" like this type of approach. Using a case number instead of a first name is one of the easiest ways to tell if you're interacting with an automated system or a real person. If you’re going to do that, you might as well write your email in binary. 

The robotic feel of some messages is usually the result of overreliance on automation or templates, which will be discussed later in the post. I'm not saying that automation is bad in general. Just don't overdo it in the first few words of your customer service email.

If you want to positively impact the customer experience when they contact you by email, choose the right help desk software. With this type of ticketing system, you can quickly customize the greeting and the entire look and feel of the message. You no longer have to use built-in templates with wording like "ticket no: 67302628" or "sent via XYZ."

There are ticketing systems on the market that make customer service emails look like standard, trusted messages but in a fresh way. Here's an example of a ticket sent using - HelpDesk:

customer service email HelpDesk

4. Thanking the customer for contacting you

It's very important to thank the customer for making contact with you. You may think that you're the one who deserves to hear a "thank you" for answering the customer's questions. However, it's the other way around. You're the one who should be thanking customers for asking questions. 

After all, customers are doing you a favor. They’ve let you know that something isn't working or that something is difficult to understand. So, before you move on, thank your customer, and take customer feedback seriously because it's beneficial for your business.

5. Using simple language

Conduct the entire conversation with the customer as if you were talking to them face-to-face. This means that adding jargon and complicated language in your responses to customer service emails is out of place. Don’t use this type of language because it's counterproductive and creates even more questions and concerns for the customer.

Keep track of your customer engagement, and stick to simple language. Provide explanations that don't require two degrees in the field just to understand it. If you need to refer to a more difficult term in your answer, try to explain it using the customer's words. If the customer came up with a specific term to describe their problem, use the same term when explaining the solution. That way, you won't have to correct them and they won't feel confused or lost. 

6. Summarizing the customer's situation

Fully understand what your customer is saying. Hold off on responding until you're sure you get the point. In the customer's message, determine whether they have a problem or a question. Read between the lines to find out if they're upset, frustrated, concerned, or curious. Simply said, put yourself in your customer's shoes.

Gather all the information you need so you can take it to the next step, and summarize the current situation to make sure everyone's on the same page. Rephrasing what the customer is saying is a great way to make sure you fully understand their concerns. If you have any doubt that you understand the customer's case, ask for confirmation. This is especially important when dealing with difficult, complex cases. 

If it's been a while since your last exchange with a customer, make sure to offer a brief summary of how things have gone so far. This step will allow you to avoid any miscommunication further down the line. Make sure you fully understand the situation before hitting the "send" button.

7. Giving detailed answers and assistance

After summarizing the situation, it's time to answer the customer's question. Depending on the complexity of the problem, you have a range of tools that will make the explanation easier to understand:

The goal should be to answer in a way that is easy to digest. Make sure you respond directly to any doubts the customer expressed in their original message. If there's something you don't know, it's crucial that you don't just leave it out. Take note of it, and let the customer know that you'll do your best to tie up any loose ends. If the problem isn't fully resolved, set a timeframe for when the customer can expect an answer.

8. Closing your email in style

Once you've provided the customer with an answer, let them know that they should go directly to you if they have any concerns or questions. It's not only convenient for the customer, but it'll also save another customer service agent the trouble of going through the whole thing again.

Adding a bit of a personal touch to close your message is like the cherry on top for customer service emails. Cracking a little joke or simply wishing them a nice day can turn any unpleasant customer service case into a lovely story that the customer will share with their friends.

If you don't have any idea how to close a customer service email, here's a list with the best closings for your email

Useful customer service email templates

You don't have to start every message from scratch for every customer question. The last piece of advice I'd like to give you is to use email templates for the most common customer service questions. These questions can be related to product or service details, pricing, delivery, setup, troubleshooting, or other common issues. Email templates can save you a ton of time if you're dealing with similar customer cases.

However, there's a catch. Templates are acceptable as long as they remain just templates, so you can't just create a one-size-fits-all answer and use it every time a customer asks about a specific topic. Email templates should be more of a guideline for customer service agents. Customize them a bit to reflect your unique values, and give them a personal touch before sending a response. An approach like this gives you the best of both worlds: A personal touch at scale.

I created an easy-to-digest library of templates based on six common customer service situations. So, let's take a look at some of the best customer service email examples so you'll never run short on time again.

Customer service email template so you can respond as soon as possible

A customer who sends an email to the customer service team expects confirmation that someone will address their issue. In many companies, the first response to a customer with the confirmation of receiving the message is mostly automated. Still, the content and form of the first response are up to you. Thank your customer for the message, say how long it will take to handle the request, and add other essential details, such as the ticket number.

Hello [customer's name],

 

Thank you for contacting us. We've just received your message, and we'll get back to you with an answer in 24 hours.

 

For your information, your support ticket number is #123456.

Please use it in all future correspondence so we can assist you quickly. 

 

Expect us back soon,

[your signature]

Customer service email template for delays

As a customer service professional, you have no control over situations like logistical delays, shipping errors, or inventory shortages. I know you'd like to avoid these obstacles and always provide a positive customer experience, but be prepared to pass on negative information

Hello [customer's name],

 

Thank you for your message. I'm sorry to let you know that the product you ordered, listed below, is currently out of stock.  [Product name + details]

 

The good news is that we expect to have it in our inventory on [the date]. We'll send you a message as soon as [the product] from your order is in stock and ready to be delivered to you.

I can also suggest another product as an excellent alternative to your choice.  [Alternative product's name and details]

   

Please let me know what is the most convenient for you and how you want to proceed with your order. Otherwise, I can issue a refund right away.

If you have any questions, please reply to this message.

 

I look forward to your response,

[your signature]

Customer service email template with a follow-up

When the customer receives your response, make sure you've solved their problem. Then you can end the interaction and close the case. However, if you've asked the customer for more details or explained a more difficult solution and haven't received any feedback, know that you need to follow up. Write a couple of sentences to show customers that you care about their experience and your relationship.

Hello [customer's name],

 

I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to reach out to you regarding the issue with [the case details] that you had a while back because I haven't heard from you since then. I hope I managed to guide you through [the process] and now you can fully enjoy [the product/service].

 

But if I'm wrong, please let me know if you need additional assistance. I'm here for whatever you may need, and I'll be more than happy to help you.

 

Have a great day,

[your signature]

Customer service email template if the customer needs more info

Allow your customers to respond with further questions, comments, or concerns about your product or service. Leave room in your email for them to deepen their customer service experience. Encourage them to interact and have a little Q&A session with you as an expert in your field. 

Hello [customer's name],

 

Thank you for reaching out. I see that you are mainly interested in [the area of customer interest]. So, let me answer all your questions right away! 

 

[Place your answer. Provide background on the situation, and give helpful insights into the problem]

If you have any more questions or concerns about this topic, let me know. I'm here to give you the best care so you can enjoy [product or service name]. 

 

Have a great day,

[your signature]

Customer service email template for a tough situation

If you've ever faced a complaining or angry customer, you know it's a hard nut to crack. A customer can get mad for many reasons related to your company or external factors beyond your control. Customer service representatives must remain calm, eloquent, polite, and think rationally in emotional situations. All you need to do here is to apologize for the negative experience and work the situation out. Use this angry customer response email template to cool the customer down.

Dear [customer's name],

Thank you for your message. I'm so sorry to hear that you've had such a poor experience with [describe customer situation related to product or service].

 

Your satisfaction is always our number one priority as is [mention the business value here, e.g., delivering the highest quality product/service or responding swiftly to your messages]. I see now that we've failed in that regard.

 

I want to say that I haven't been indifferent to your problem and am personally addressing it. I'll get back to you with more information as soon as the problem is solved.

 

Thank you,

[your signature]

Customer service email template to improve your support

You can't assume that everything went well with your support until you get undeniable confirmation from your customer. So, to improve your support actions, ask your customers how you did. Let them explain what went right or wrong.

After a customer interaction, you can use feedback questionnaires or customer satisfaction surveys to acknowledge your mistakes or excellent support. This type of feedback will help you get into the mind of your customer. Also, it provides valuable data for your business. To get this data, you must first ask the customer to fill out a questionnaire before closing the tab. 

Hello [customer's name],

 

I hope I've been able to give you the right assistance with case number #123456. 

 

We're constantly working to meet your expectations, but we can't do it without you. It would be wonderful if you could tell us about your support experience in this brief, one-minute survey. [Add a link to the survey and a relevant CTA]

 

Your time is valuable, and one minute is all we need to serve you even better in the future. So, I'd appreciate your response.

 

Thank you for your time,

[your signature]

Then be ready for different results. Have your response ready if a customer gives you feedback that the experience was bad. Personalize every apology and if company policy allows, you can offer an incentive, refund, or discount. Take responsibility for your mistakes, and make a promise to improve in your customer service apology email.

Dear [customer's name],

 

Thank you for taking the time to send us feedback about our support. We read through it and agree that we've fallen short of your expectations. We could have done better in [the area you were unable to serve well]. Please accept our sincerest apologies for this inconvenience. 

 

I shared your feedback with the rest of the customer support team, and we plan to incorporate your suggestions. At this point, I can assure you that this mistake won't happen in the future. 

 

We appreciate your understanding in this matter. If there is anything else I can help you with, please feel free to contact me. As always, I'll be happy to assist you.

 

Thank you,

[your signature]

Let's end this section on a positive note. The customer can also evaluate your support positively. That is why you should draft a good customer service feedback email. Thank your customer for rating your support as great and celebrate. Remember not to rest on your laurels and keep improving the customer experience as your business grows.

Dear [customer's name],

 

Thank you so much for your feedback. Your message put a smile on my face! It's always rewarding to hear kind words after the journey we've taken together. You need to know that we're doing everything we can to give you the best possible support and that we cherish our relationship.

 

Would you be so kind as to share your impressions by leaving a review on [link to review page]? Your review would be extremely helpful if someone's looking for a similar experience with [the product or service's type].

 

Thank you so much, 

[your signature]

Automating customer service emails

Due to limited time, it's sometimes impossible to provide personalized service in all customer service emails. However, you can come close to it by making your automated emails feel personal.

The more information you have about the customer, the easier it'll be. You want to create emails so good and detailed that the customer isn't sure if the notification email they just got came from an automated system or a real person.

Here's a perfect example from Uberfilp:

customer service email example

I know for a fact that this is an automated email, but they did a great job of making it more personal. Even if it's a notification of an upcoming webinar, the same rules apply to customer service emails.

If the original email isn't sent by an agent manually because it’s sent by your email automation system, you can set the “reply to” field for the agent's address. This way, you can manage the look of your outgoing emails and display a user-friendly name of your choice. Also, making the subject line feel like an actual question helps, too. This is so much better than using something spit out by an automated system. 

After reading the previous part of this article, you know that using the customer's first name is helpful. Try not to use the full name. After all, how often do people address you by your full name in email communication. "Hello John Stockman, so nice to meet you!" sounds weird, doesn't it?

The last thing is the email footer and signature. Adding the agent's name and picture at the end of the email is also an excellent way to make it more personal.

Also, speaking of saving time and making your reaction speed better, you can save your most common responses as canned responses. Canned responses for customer service have the power to add hours back into your day. You don't have to write or copy and paste the same text every day. Use the ready-made responses for your customer support actions. You can also create a canned response from the templates I showed you in this article. It's a nice and easy way to send a semi-automated response to your customer on every possible topic. 

Creating better support emails

Now you know how to create better-written support emails to make your customer communication impactful, unique, and personal. Make sure every email that leaves your system is professional and focused on the customer. Use the tips mentioned in this article to write your customer service emails. Try templates and automation in your customer email communication and speed up your support processes

A happy ending to a customer's case is worth every effort you put in. Keep your customer engagement level high at every stage of their journey. When you're aware of your mission, you'll start doing a better job, and every email you send will brighten a customer's day and enable them to use your product or service effectively.