How to email customer service and get results!

I hope you have enjoyed this series on effective email.  I’ve talked about the importance of choosing a good email address, your subject line, given you some tips for a more effective body of text in two parts. Last week, I talked about your signature line and some “Other Stuff” important for effective email and today I conclude my series No article series on effective email would be complete without a section on how to email customer service and get results!  This is a very different kind of email and, as such, it requires a little different approach.  Here are some tips: 1. Make sure you are emailing the correct department. If you are asking about an order, you probably want sales.  If you are asking about a problem with a product, you probably want their customer service department.  If you email the wrong department, you slow down the process. 2. Be respectful. Resist the temptation to “go off” on the poor, unsuspecting recipient of your product performance nightmare. It’s not Connie Customer Rep’s fault and she’s only trying to help you.  Allow her.  The more disrespectful we are the worse our treatment will be. 3.Give whatever background is necessary. If the problem requires a little background, provide a BRIEF background in order that the representative has enough knowledge to direct you further.  Not including a background when one is needed, will only delay your resolution.  If the customer service rep is savvy enough to ask you for it, it will require another email.  If he isn’t, it may require SEVERAL! 4. State the issue clearly. Leave out feelings, extraneous info, and minute details, but do state the issue clearly and as briefly as possible. 5. Use numbers or bullet points. Customer service reps are people too and most people find it difficult to read too much in an email.  Make it easy for him to read: “I have a few questions: 1) how many weeks does it take to deliver? 2) what colors do they come in? and 3) How long do I have to return it if it doesn’t fit?” 6. Provide any further info that might help plead your case. If you are returning an item after the date their policy allows, you might want to explain that your mom bought it in July as a Christmas gift and you didn’t open it until December.  If you are returning a wrong personalized item, you might want to mention that the sales rep told you this was the item you needed.  It also helps if you kept a record of the date, time and name of the person you spoke with. 7. Be prepared to clarify. If you think you are going to send off your perfect email and receive a reply that addresses all your issues or even ANY of them, you will be sorely sore.  lol  Be prepared to clarify. * Be prepared for a canned email that asks for you to pick a canned reply from the multiple choice questions. * Be prepared to have to call because none of the multiple choice responses suit your issue. * Be prepared for the fact that very few customer service emails are really read in their entirety. * So be prepared to write another email with virtually the same text. * Be prepared to have only SOME of your issues answered in the reply. * Be prepared to keep sending replies to clarify… OR * Be prepared to go in to the store or call them on the phone to resolve. 8. Rethink emailing if your issue is in any way complex. Sometimes it’s best to communicate the old fashioned way: by phone! Emailing is a virtual convenience that is used by virtually everyone!  It’s deceptively difficult but can be exceedingly effective.  The key is to know how and when to use it.


  • Cindy Holman

    I agree with Carla and you on the fact that many times I have to pick up the phone and get a live person to help me with my issue – had a rather confusing round of emails last week from the academy that pays me for voice lessons for one student – it was a MESS! But it is hopefully solved now! I like email best – it’s direct and has no emotion – JUST THE FACTS!

  • Carla

    I agree that sometimes it’s better to call for customer service issues. In fact, speaking for myself, I’ve only resolved one or two easy ones via email; the rest have been over the phone. When I call, especially if I’m really hot over something, I write down those bullet points or numbered issues. You could just print out your email if you didn’t have satisfaction that way. It helps to keep me on track, especially if my temper comes out. As you say, it’s not the fault of the person who answered the phone or read the email, but we tend to take it out on them. I oftentimes say, “I know this is not your fault and I’m not picking on YOU.” That’s when I’m starting to lose control, which I have only a few times, thankfully. Great email tips if you need them! It works for minor issues. . . most of the time. :)

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