There’s a lot more to writing an effective customer email than many folks realise.
In this short article, I’ll share three quick tips to help you craft a better customer email!
1. Remember That Email Is a Visual Form of Communication
Your customer will see your email before they read it.
And while there is a well regarded list of design principles that can help, I’d suggest an overall approach that is even easier.
The very best emails look like recipes from a cookbook.
Aren’t cookbooks gorgeous?
I don’t cook, but I can happily flip the pages of a beautiful cookbook for hours.
It’s better than meditation.
Now transfer that design logic to your email:
- Is it pleasing to look at?
- Is there plenty of white space so the eyes can rest?
- Are points listed clearly in chronological or bullet point format?
- Could a visual image help make a point?
When your customer opens up your email, it shouldn’t feel like a homework assignment.
2. The Best Emails Sound Like the Spoken Word
I’ve never understood why the moment folks get behind a keyboard, they turn into lawyers.
Out come the ‘over the top’ words and phrases that normal people never use in their daily lives.
Some phrases that should be banned immediately?
“We regret to inform you…”
Now how lame is that.
Firstly, is there any regret? Did that sender cry while they were typing?
If there weren’t tears on the keyboard, well, there wasn’t any regret.
In addition, who uses the word ‘regret’ in their daily life?
“Hi honey, I regret to inform you I won’t be stopping by the grocery store tonight.”
Nobody talks like that.
Obviously, writing a letter is different.
But it should be understood that letters and emails are different forms of communication, with letters being the more formal of the two.
The best emails sound like the (professional) spoken word.
Another phrase to deep six is this one – “We would greatly appreciate if…”
How bossy is that?
“We would greatly appreciate (you idiot), if you would fill up the form.”
“We would greatly appreciate (you idiot), if you would queue over here.”
Is there any appreciation here?
Can you feel the warmth?
This phrase – using Transactional Analysis logic – is parental in nature – it involves talking down to your customers.
How about this phrasing – “We can’t send you your package until you send us your updated address (you idiot).”
How negative is that?
What about this instead – “So that we can send you your package quickly, may we ask for your updated address? Thank you!”
3. Learn the Art of Interpretation
The very first step in email writing is to interpret the incoming email.
Your fingers shouldn’t get near the keyboard until you are able to articulate both the TONE and the CONTENT of the email that you received from your customer.
I look at email interpretation a bit like I look at the popular TV show CSI.
In CSI, detectives sift through clues to figure out what happened.
Interpreting emails is the same.
Spending a few minutes in precious interpretation – so that you can craft a robust reply – pays off in the avoidance of unnecessary repeat contacts.