Both in my online sales and my days of working in an office, I have had a lot of experience with customer service. I have been that person getting screamed at on the other end of the phone, email and live chat line at various times in my life and career so I feel the pain of Customer Service reps around the world.But I have also been an angry customer so I understand how important it is to get help for your issue and help fast.
The secret to getting better and faster email support is to rethink how you interact with CS. Most people approach it like a battle and come to the table angry. Instead, you need to approach it as an issue that you and the company are going to work together to solve and, on your end, you need to give them as much help as possible in order for them to be able to make it happen. Instead of firing off an angry or stressed email, take a little more time to craft a logical and clear email and you will get a better response in return.
It doesn’t matter what site you are emailing, here are a few tips to get you faster and better support no matter what company it is.
#1 Identify yourself with your account. This may seem like a small thing but you’d be amazed how many times people email from their work account (Joe.Doe@work.com) and then get angry when the CS rep needs to follow up to find out who they are because their registered account is TheSmiths@home.com. If you are emailing from an alternate email than the one your account is registered with, add a note at the beginning explaining this. If you have a customer number or username, by all means use it here. The easier it is for the person answering your email to know who you are, the better they can look up your history and solve your problem.
#2 Include as much relevant information as possible. If this was an order gone wrong, start with the order number and then the number of the product that you were ordering (for example: On Lulu it would be the content ID number, on eBay the item number, etc). If it is a technical issue with a website, not only include the exact error you are getting but also include what version browser you are using, what operating system and what you have tried so far. The more relevant info you give the operator upfront, the less work he or she will have to do to solve your issue so the faster you will get your reply and the more emails back and forth there will be before your issue is solved. If everyone did this, email wait times would be much less!
#3 Don’t bog down your email with irrelevant information. The Customer Service rep does not want to read your entire life story just to find out there is a java error on the payment page. Read and re-read your email before you sent it and make sure only the relevant information is on there. Aside from personal information, unless it is related, avoid mention of previous issues you are having as it will only confused the operator and slow down your getting your answer. The longer the email, the more likely the CS rep will skim rather than read your email so short and relevant will serve you far better than a rambling rant.
#4 Follow the rules of the customer support system. Most customer support systems work on a ticket based system. This means that they place a code in the email subject when they reply to you so that when you reply in turn, that new email becomes attached to the existing issue. Others force you to reply by signing into their system and adding your reply directly to the support ticket. No matter what the system, play along. If you stubbornly send in a new email each time instead of leaving the code in your subject line intact or start a new support query through the website instead of adding your new info to the existing ticket, you are ensuring yourself the slowest possible support time. If you follow the system, each new reply goes back to the same operator or group who are already familiar with the history of the issue and can help you faster. If you don’t, each new email gets a totally new person who may not be able to look up the previous issue and to whom you will need to start all over again from square one. Taking a few extra seconds to follow directions can save you days waiting for a response.
#5 Don’t shoot the messenger (or, don’t be a psycho). I don’t care how angry you are at whatever company you are emailing, understand that it is a human being on the other end of that email. They are the person that is going to help you solve your issue and they are not the one that caused the issue. Remember this! If you are kind to the operator, your chances of getting timely and high quality support increase dramatically. If someone is nice to me right from the start, I want to help them but if you start the conversation out by threatening me with bad feedback or reporting me to the Better Business Bureau or whatever crazy people threaten today, my desire to help you just plummeted. I know some people argue that they only get good support because they scare the companies and yell. Let me assure you that you got good support DESPITE yelling and not because of it. You will always get more bees with honey. I have turned many a customer service nightmare where I was the customer into a positive experience simply by being rational and nice and as a CS person, I will go the extra mile for the customer who is understanding and kind rather than insane and blaming.