Business Practices | | Published June 14, 2012

A Guide for Proper Customer Support Email Etiquette Reponses

email.pngAdhering to email etiquette isn't important only when composing a note to your grandmother. It's important to follow the rules of etiquette at all times, especially when representing a company. Every interaction that you, as a representative of your company, have with a customer will reflect on the brand and company image.

When serving as a member of a customer support team, proper email etiquette is far and above one of the most essential things to keep in mind. Even when the customer forgets their own etiquette you have to forgive their lapse and make sure not to falter yourself. It's just like if you're on the phone; no matter how much a customer may yell and scream, you have to remain calm and control the situation.

What's worse about breaking etiquette in email is that it stays around forever. If you slip up on the phone you can apologize and move on. Should an irate email response fired off to a customer get sent out, they have the ability to share it with everyone in the world, including news outlets! Follow these customer support email etiquette guidelines on how to properly respond to customer emails:

Always Check Whether You Truly Answered the Question

We all want to be quick on the draw and answer a customer's question as promptly as possible. However, it's easy to slip up and accidentally answer the wrong question entirely! Perhaps you misread the email, or there were multiple questions and you only focused on one. Whatever the infraction, it can be frustrating to the customer to have to now re-email you the question they need answered.

One way to avoid this issue is to reread the initial email they sent prior to sending your response to make sure you answered or addressed all the issues or needs expressed. Also, check to see if what you told them makes sense and is easily interpreted. For instance, if there are a zillion steps in your response for them to follow, it might be worth a moment to edit it for clarity, or include screenshots or a phone number should they need to troubleshoot step-by-step.

Apologize Profusely

No matter how irate or abusive the customer email is, no matter how badly it hurts your soul, you should always apologize to them for the inconvenience. Even if it turns out the issue is entirely their fault, it's important to offer an apology for the bother.

Why? Because it's the first step to reaching an understanding, for one. The person on the other end of the email is mad or sad about something, and it may have ruined their entire day. By you taking the initiative to say "Sorry about that" takes the edge off the situation, at least a little. After that, you can figure out what happened and how you can prevent it from happening in the future, even if it is a misunderstanding on the customer's end.

Find a Good Email Length

Emails are not meant to be epic tomes; they need to be crisp and concise messages. At the same time, they are not Tweets either, so you do need to make sure you're relaying all the critical information and coming across like you know what you're talking about.

Finding the perfect length for your emails can be tough, but just remember you always have the ability to edit. Before you hit "send" take another look over what you wrote. Did you deviate from the topic and talk about what it was like growing up in New England a little too much? Chop it down. When you were explaining company policy regarding returns, did you maybe forget a few things? Plug it back in, otherwise the customer may think you just don't have time for them or you could leave out something really important!

Proper Greeting and Salutation

The first thing the customer should see in your email is their name. This immediately lets them know they haven't just received some annoying automated email. Someone on the other side knows their name and is sending a personalized response.

At the end of the email, the last thing they should see is YOUR name and your contact information, along with a polite "Thanks," or "Regards," or whatever you, your company or your team leader thinks works best. If the customer needs to follow-up, they want to know who to address the email to. If your name isn't included, they're not sure who they're emailing and may just forget it and just never choose to buy from your company again. Conversely, people buy from people, not companies. So if they feel like they know Todd from Customer Support at the Widget Company personally, they will feel like they have a "guy on the inside" and are more likely to remember you and return. is a powerful customer support software system which incorporates knowledgebase and other self service tools for a collaborative and complete customer service experience.