Writing Great Customer Support Emails — A Definitive Style Guide

The Definitive Style Guide for Writing Perfect Customer Support Emails

Reading time: 8 minutes

Written by

When you’re sending countless customer support emails every day, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s most important. The main goal is to give your customers great support that keeps them coming back for more. With a simple style guide or checklist, you can make sure that every email never misses the mark.

75% of consumers say that they want to experience consistency when they engage with your brand. A style guide can help you ensure that support emails from all agents meet the same mark, whether a new agent or an experienced one is sending them.

Here’s the definitive style guide to follow for writing perfect customer support emails that solve problems and satisfy customers.

First, let’s briefly go over five of the most common customer emails that support teams get.

5 Common Customer Emails that Support Teams Get

Customer support emails come in all shapes and sizes. Every customer isn’t going to have the same problem, and some issues are unique, isolated events. But there are a few customers queries that you probably get more than others. And you can apply a style guide to each one.

Late delivery

Have you ever ordered something that said it would arrive by a certain date and had it arrive late?

The experience can be disheartening, especially if you needed the item for a particular event. You’ve probably sent an email like this if that has ever happened to you:

email style guideAnd your customers have probably sent you the same thing. It isn’t always your fault. Maybe their package was delayed by the postal service or lost in the mail. Regardless, you should offer a refund, credit, or discount to the customer to make it right.

Received the wrong item

Sometimes, when a customer places an order, your distribution team might accidentally send them the wrong color, style, or size. Or worse – the wrong item completely. As a customer, this is frustrating. If you paid for a product and received something entirely different, you probably wouldn’t be happy, either.

When you get these kinds of emails, offer to make it right at no extra cost to the customer and give them a special discount or reimbursement for their troubles.

Customer needs help navigating the features of your services

Sometimes, customers might have problems figuring out how to use the features on your website. When this happens, they might write to you to ask for help. In that event, you’ll probably send them back something like this to explain how to complete the desired action.

customer support email style guide

Don’t forget to link to any relevant articles from your knowledge base that explain things in greater detail, too.

Faulty product

It’s not uncommon for customers to receive faulty or defective products. They might have broken during shipping, or maybe your employees didn’t notice that something was wrong with them before sending them out to buyers.

In that event, you’ll probably receive an email similar to this:

customer support email style guide

Offer to refund the item or replace it for free. No one wants to pay for something that doesn’t work.

Dissatisfied with your service

Sometimes, a customer just might not think that your business is a good fit for them. Maybe they ordered a product and found that it didn’t meet their needs or that it wasn’t high-quality. Maybe your services don’t help them in the way that they thought they would.

When this happens, they’ll do one of two things: talk to you about it or quit being your customer and give their business to a competitor. The latter of the two is most common. 96% of unhappy customers don’t actually complain, and 91% of those customers just leave your company and never return.

So if someone chooses to talk to you about it, that’s your chance to keep them from leaving your business for good. Take these emails to heart and ask customers how you can be better. Consider changing your policies or improving your products or services based on their suggestions.  

A support email isn’t as good without a few key components.

Components of a Good Support Email

Sometimes, your email just won’t satisfy unless it hits a few main points.

For starters, if you aren’t sending emails back to customers quickly, you’ll lose customers. Most customers (81%) want a response within one 24 hours of reaching out. The sooner, the better. Try to email customers back within one hour. At the most, don’t wait any longer than 24 hours.

It’s also best to keep emails personalized.

The clothing retailer JustFab decided to personalize their email messages. As a result, they saw a whopping 103% increase in revenue. Personalized email messages have been proven to boost click-throughs on a call-to-action by 14%. They have also been shown to boost conversions by 10%.

Personalize your emails quickly by using customers’ names when you address them.

customer support email style guide

It also helps to keep things empathetic. Your agents should always put themselves in your customers’ shoes. More brands than ever before are using empathy to enhance customer relationships. Use positive words in customer service emails to ensure that your words are empathetic and kind. Here are 25 examples to choose from.

customer support email style guide

Something that every style guide should include is organization. You should always organize emails with bulleted (or numbered) lists.

Organize Your Emails with Bulleted or Numbered Lists

Bullet points are a simple way to “ladder” sets of instructions that might be a bit confusing to read or understand. If you’re walking a customer through several steps, never forget to organize the instructions into lists.

Use either partial or full sentences within each point. And be sure to include consistent punctuation. For example, don’t end one point with a period but forget punctuation on the end of the next point.

A good rule of thumb is to end each point with a period if you choose to use full sentences. If they are phrases or partial sentences, don’t end them with any punctuation. Here’s how Sumo bulleted lists in their emails:

customer support email style guide

You should also avoid nested bullet points, which are also known as multi-level bullet points. A nested list looks like this:

customer support email style guideThese can be great when grouping sub-points together, but they don’t always display correctly in emails. If you aren’t creating canned responses, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to cut down on the time your agents spend writing emails.

Created Canned Responses that Follow Style Guidelines

With canned responses, you can quickly insert templates into your emails. Your agents can simply add in pre-formatted replies, insert a few customized personal touches (like the customer’s name or specific ticket details), and send their reply on its way.

In Freshdesk, it’s simple to create canned responses and add them to support emails. When creating them, be sure to include specific style guidelines, like a spot for the customer’s name or an agent signature. Just click on any ticket from your dashboard or within the ticket list. Then, select “Reply” and press the “Canned responses” button at the bottom of the window.

customer support email style guide

Then, a list of all of the canned responses you’ve created will appear. All the agent has to do is select the response that will best fit the situation.

 

(Image Source)

 

The pre-formatted template will be added into the reply, where the agent can tweak the template with personal details quickly.

customer support email style guide

Sometimes, words don’t explain something as well as images or video can. Don’t be afraid to let your agents add in images and video that can help customers find the help they need.

Explain it with a Screenshot or Video

People remember visuals. If you hear information, you’ll only remember 10% of it three days later. Add a visual, and you’ll remember 65% of the information instead. Emails that include video have 5.6% higher open rates and 96.38% higher CTRs than emails that don’t.

Since they’re that helpful and engaging, consider adding them to your support emails.

When you’re trying to walk customers through a process, you’ll likely find that images, screenshots, and video can help you explain something much better than words can. Paste a video or image when it’s helpful. Or, link to a knowledge base article or guide that includes helpful visuals, like this one from Canon.

customer support email style guide

In Freshdesk, you can annotate images with text to describe them in greater detail, add shapes, or blur out sensitive details that you don’t want customers to have access to.

customer support email style guide

When writing emails to customers, it can be easy to keep things formal and robotic. But by being casual, you’ll make them feel more like a friend than a customer.

Keep it Casual (as Long as You aren’t Saying “No”)

A survey of more than 2,000 online customers of all ages and genders found that at least 65% of them prefer a casual tone when dealing with customers support. But that preference changes when an agent is denying something from customers.

78% of those surveyed said that casual language had a negative impact on their experience if they were being denied a request. So while a casual tone (like slang or emojis) is helpful for the average reply, don’t be too casual if you’re telling a customer “no”.This email from Tilt is a great example of a fun, casual customer support email.

customer support email style guide

Conclusion

You and your team probably send hundreds (if not thousands) of support emails every single day. It can be easy to lose focus when you’re sending out such a high volume of emails. But the ultimate goal of support emails is to give customers solutions that satisfy them.

A simple style guide can help you ensure that no email ever falls flat.

A style guide can also help your brand keep things consistent, which is important since the majority of customers expect consistency when engaging with a company.

Support teams commonly receive emails that complain about late delivery or receiving the wrong item, request technical support, ask for help with a faulty product, or comment about being dissatisfied with your business.

You should respond to each email as quickly as possible and in a personalized manner. Use the customer’s name and never forget to be empathetic.

Include positive language, no matter the support issue.

Organize every email with bulleted or numbered lists, create canned responses that follow your style guide, and explain situations with visuals like screenshots or video.

Don’t forget to keep things casual. Customers like casual language unless you’re telling them “no.”

Implement a style guide today that follows the rules outlined in this post to take your team’s support emails to the next level.

Try Freshdesk

Subscribe for blog updates