We have all received a customer service email that is full of cliché language. It was cold and impersonal. In this video, learn how to write customer service emails that provide a personal touch.
- Remember when you were little and you ate your sister's Halloween candy and your mom made you apologize to her? You said, "Sorry." Yeah, that type of insincere apology might have worked when you were eight years old, but it doesn't work when you're apologizing to a customer in an email. Let me show you why you should avoid cliched language and how to use specific, genuine wording when you apologize to a customer. Sometimes, an apology is all we can offer a customer, so we need to do it right.
Let's say a customer sends your company this email. Your company messed up the delivery time, so you'll probably refund the shipping charges, but it's not just the refund that makes the customer feel that you care. It's the words you use when you say you're sorry. Here's the classic, cliched way of apologizing. "Thank you for contacting us regarding this matter. "We regret any inconvenience this might have caused." Stop, we are not going to use those words when we apologize to a customer.
"We regret any inconvenience this might have caused" is so trite that it sounds a lot like, "Sorry," not sorry. Let's analyze this wording. We regret, do we really regret this? Regret is a fussy, formal word. Any inconvenience, these words just aren't sincere. We caused a specific problem, not any inconvenience. This might have caused, there is no might in this situation.
We delivered the bouquet late. We caused the problem because the flowers were wilted when the mom arrived. This commonplace cliched wording is just so sad because it undermines what could be a sincere apology. And so often, customers want the apology more than they want compensation or a refund. They want us to use words to show that we do take responsibility and that we really are sorry we messed up or disappointed them. For many customers, the we're sorry is more important than the money.
So here are ways you can use specific, sincere words instead of cliches. Why is "I'm sorry" better than "We regret"? Because it's more personal, and the wording is more conversational. "I'm sorry" sounds like something we say and mean all the time. "We regret" sounds like something from a lawyer. Why should we apologize for a specific inconvenience instead of any inconvenience? Because apologizing for any inconvenience makes it sound like we didn't read the customer's email or we don't agree they were actually inconvenienced.
If the customer told us exactly what the problem was, we shouldn't use the word, any. Why should we acknowledge that the inconvenience did happen? Isn't it risky to admit that we did something wrong? No, it's not risky to admit that we did something wrong when we did something wrong. It's responsible and honest and it makes customers trust us and like us a little better. Take a look at the handout for this lesson in the Exercise File.
I've given you a list of common cliches and phrases you can replace them with. Talk to your coworkers and add to the list. I'm sure you'll come up with others. So when your company has made a mistake or has caused hard feelings, apologize, be sincere, and be genuine.
- Reading emails carefully
- Anticipating follow-up questions
- Answering all of the customer's questions
- Handling difficult questions
- Explaining your process to the customer
- Paraphrasing the customer's situation
- Acknowledging the customer's feelings
- Apologizing when appropriate
- Avoiding clichéd language
- Demonstrating empathy and sincerity in your writing
- Building rapport