What is the Best Tone for Customer Support Email –Interview

By: Amy @IWantItNowBlog Clark

I recently came across this interesting study published by Software Advice. It determined the appropriate tone of voice for support agents to use when contacting customers via email.

The article stated that, “Using the wrong tone at the wrong time can be off-putting or even downright infuriating to the person on the other end. Even worse, bungling the tone in a canned-response macro can duplicate this kind of negative experience for hundreds of other customers.”

Fascinating.

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Software Advice’s market research associate on this topic. His insights are particularly interesting and relevant for all of us customer support professionals.

Keep reading for the full interview below- 

1. Please tell us about yourself and your customer engagement research.

I’m a market research associate at Software Advice, a company that reviews customer engagement software. I specialize in the customer relationship management (CRM) industry and conduct original research to help businesses understand trends in customer engagement processes and technologies.

For this particular report, we conducted a three-day online survey of six questions and gathered 2,317 responses from randomly selected people in the United States.

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2. How do customer support agents know when to use a friendly, casual tone and when to keep things serious and formal?

Our research suggests that, in a neutral situation, more customers (65 percent) generally prefer a casual tone. So for many businesses, that may be the best place to start. However, customers’ responses to diction and tone vary widely depending on the context of the interaction. For instance, we found that a rep using an overly informal tone was over twice as likely to damage satisfaction for customers in stressful or confusing situations, such being denied a request. So the more touchy or frustrating the scenario, the more agents need to be mindful of how the customer is feeling and perhaps consider using a reserved tone in order to avoid sounding unconcerned or condescending.

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3. What is the most common reason for customers to become upset while on a support call?

The most common reason will range considerably from industry to industry and business to business. Our research found that using overly familiar language in a touchy situation can definitely be a cause for significant frustration, with 39% of customers saying they would be “much less satisfied” with their overall service, and 22% saying they would be “moderately less satisfied.

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4. What do customers find inappropriate during support requests?

A significant number of customers (35 percent) find emoticons to be inappropriately casual for a customer support interaction. For another 26 percent, this was also true of highly colloquial words such as ‘awesome’ or ‘cool.’

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5. What advice can you offer to customer success professionals trying to improve their rate of first call resolution?

Before you respond, make sure you anticipate the customer’s frame-of-mind and thoroughly understand their request. It’s better to answer correctly than quickly.

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Amy Clark is the Lead Author & Editor of IWantItNow Blog. Amy established the Customer Engagement blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to customer service, support and engagement.
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