Customer service doesn’t end as soon as you click the “X” on the chat window or end the phone call. It continues, even if that customer doesn’t reach out to you again. The way you handle the initial interaction and the follow-up (or the way to you limit the need for a follow up) define how well each customer will perceive your service.
Ultimately, providing better customer support is worth the invested time. Training agents to solve issues quickly and make customers more relaxed will benefit you in the long run. So will creating an email follow-up process that reinforces support and encourages interaction.
Those emails are also a great place to say “thank you” again.
Customer service solutions live here too.
So today we’re going to look at what makes customer service follow-up emails work. We’ll start with a few general ideas on when to send them and what buckets to sort these into for better results. You’ll also get the 5 “must-haves” whether you’re writing them by hand or automating the whole thing. And, we’ll add in a few thoughts on how you can use visuals to go the extra mile while also reducing the burden on your team for finding and delivering help.
Let’s dive in now.
Start with the Service’s Defined Purpose
There are multiple reasons to follow up with a customer after you provide service and support. Creating broad categories that you can then finalize and customize on an individual level gives you the ability to respond in a way that customers enjoy.
The exact list of big categories will depend on your product and service offering, but here are a few thoughts to get you started:
- Resolving problems with billing or subscriptions
- Unexpected costs or charges (such as fees or when someone increases to a higher service tier)
- Products not working as expected (internal issues)
- Products stop working or fail (internal issues)
- Integrations or connections are broken (external issues)
- Customer unsure of how to do something or use a new feature
- Questions that arise due to changes, such as software updates
Let’s take a quick mental look at #7. This is an area where you’re likely to get a lot of question in a short amount of time but generally won’t last long. Confusing elements or updates will through some of your current customers for a loop, and these follow-ups are focused on maintaining that long standing relationship.
As time goes by, items from #7 will slowly transition into being a #6 template — moving from “how do I do this now?” to “how do I do this at all?” This shift highlights the fact that these questions and service elements will evolve with your business. While the purpose may not change, how you address it, and what is discussed will change. Your company isn’t stagnant, so don’t let your emails be either.
5 Structural Elements to Always Include
The follow-up email is your opportunity to keep the customer happy. You want to ensure that their problems are solved and provide a place for feedback or further questions. The email respects your customer and your agent by showing that the concern and the support were valid.
The best responses have a few elements in common and are designed to keep things simple and thankful. Reviewing the issue and steps for resolution, plus making any required data available via lists and links, helps the customer verify the steps if they need additional support.
Not only are you responding to the initial issue, but you give them the tools they need to solve the problem if it pops up again. That can reduce any hassle with contacting customer support and frees up your team to focus on other customers who have issues.
1. Proper identification
Your team just spent their time to resolve a customer’s issue and build a rapport that will keep them an ongoing customer for years to come. Don’t muck it up.
Maintaining the proper relationship should always start by personalizing the message that you send in your follow-up. First names are the best opener in the world for this, and they make it easy for your customer to see that this isn’t a generic template. Identification is even better when it touches broadly on the reason for the interaction in the first place.
You don’t need to be overly specific about their issue, but you must get the general details right. Consider something like this:
Hi Sarah, Thanks for chatting with us today for uploading a GIF from your Windows 10 PC.
Something that simple is all you need to build on your connection and keep them engaged.
You can improve this even further by having your agents sign their name instead of “Company Support.” It makes us feel like a human has responded to our problems, instead of an automated system pumping out emails as soon as the chat window closes or phone call ends.
2. Issue and resolution recap
After your opener, you want to hit the highlights of the issue and give specifics on how it was resolved. If steps were required to address the concern, share those again. You never know if someone will face the same problem again.
We recommend creating a quick and simple set of solutions for the problem discussed. Help your agents to learn the bullets and share them or create content they can quickly share to do this recapping for them. The good news here is that your knowledge base should contain this information and make sharing take minimal work.
There’s a strong opportunity for video here — especially if you create a video-focused FAQ — where you can drive someone to your site to see how to solve an issue. These permanent links and pages are extremely valuable when the problem is a common one, or the solution is complex.
Think of text along these lines:
An upload error doesn’t mean lost content, thankfully. Here’s a blog post that shows the couple steps it takes to recover any failed upload.
3. Similar-situation advice
For most of us, problems can be linked. In many services, there are multiple steps that we have to perform to fix or change things so that they don’t occur, or so that similar situations don’t happen. If that fits with your products and services, this email is the right opportunity to proactively provide an additional piece of information or help.
For Zight (formerly CloudApp), we can share additional information that might make creating videos or GIFs easier next time. It’s our way of being helpful and encouraging people to experiment with the software more to be more comfortable and find it more enjoyable.
Our sentences for this addition might look something like this:
We hope that blog helps! And, when it’s time to create your next GIF, here is a list of keyboard shortcuts that can make the screen captures and other steps a little easier.
4. Ticket or reference number
Almost all help desk software and tools generate ticket numbers for reference. Not everyone shares these with their customers, and that can be unfortunate when a problem isn’t fully solved, or it recurs.
Giving the customer their ticket number allows them to share a bit of information on any follow-up they do, speeding up the resolution of issues. They also can provide that number as a way to not have to give you all the same details again — it’s a great relief when support is specific to computers, phones, and other devices or require a large number of account details.
It’ll help your team too because they can see the past issue and what has been tried already, making their first new interaction a proposed solution. No one gets told to reset the router for the 20th time.
Best of all, most software will automate ticket generation as well as inclusion in your email via scripts. Putting it at the top of the email also gives you a chance to show the customer that a specific action has been taken (if needed).
Consider something like this:
A comment has been added to your helpdesk ticket:Ticket #8675309: Missing upload. Status: Problem resolved verification
5. Ongoing support information
Directly linked to that ticket number is the ability for the customer to ask for more help. Sometimes a problem seems fixed, but then the customer has issues implementing the solution. Or, they can have difficulty following the steps when your rep isn’t there to talk them through it.
Giving someone a direct link to click to ask another question or submit a new ticket makes it easier for them. The more hurdles you can remove between the customer and their resolution, the higher quality the service and the happier they’ll be. In that spirit, use the tools of your help desk software that can speed up interactions.
Options can include things like this:
Sarah, if you’re still having trouble, just reply directly to this email. Or, click here to get answers to any other questions you have. Thanks.
Automate the steps, not the people
Your helpdesk tools likely have options that can automate responses and send them out as soon as an account or ticket is marked as resolved. These are wonderful when they work right but can carry some significant risks if they’re not set up correctly.
You want to build replies that are personal and bring in different elements from the customer service experience that the customer will recognize. If the email comes off as canned, you can expect a shrug and little lift from it.
Thankfully, most helpdesk systems allow your agents to make notes and incorporate those notes directly into an autoresponder. Building out the email you send with different notes is an uncomplicated way to automate the process without making the relationship feel automated as well. Consider the structural elements we just discussed, which can be laid out via notes in an email like this:
- [Ticket reference statement and latest status]
- Hi [customer name],
- Thanks for contacting us about [problem category]
- As a reminder, you can tackle that issue by following the steps we discussed
- [steps list]
- [link to recap on your site]
- We hope that helps. If you have any similar concerns, try this page for helpful hints too: [link to additional resource]
- If you’re still having problems, just reply directly to this email. Or, click here [link to support page] to get help with any future questions.
- Have a wonderful day
- [Signature with agent name]
Each line gets a call to a specific note that the agent adds to the ticket, and the system automatically fills in the rest. It’ll speed up the follow-up while maintaining that personal connection you worked hard to build. The caveat here is that you’ll need to train your team on how to write these notes so that they work within the sentence structure of your template.
Going the extra mile
Recurring customers are the best source of revenue for nearly every business on the planet. They’re cheaper to maintain, tend to have a higher value over the long haul, and when you keep them happy, they’re more likely to turn to brand promoters, telling friends, family, and colleagues to use your service.
A straightforward way to take that step is to simplify the steps customers need to find and understand solutions. For some, visuals will help significantly, while others will prefer clear and precise lists of actions. Zight (formerly CloudApp) makes it easy for you to include both in every service element.
If you give someone a list of steps to follow as well as a video showing them how to follow the steps, every customer can choose which tool they prefer without having to ask. They’re also not struggling with a complicated list when videos simplify things.
This can be especially relevant when problem-solving involves going into an application’s settings. For instance, say that the user needs to access the “advanced settings” tab. If this is at the bottom of the settings window, they’ll have to look at each line before finally scrolling to the bottom. A video can take just one second to show the user to scroll down right away, so they’re not hunting around anymore.
Visuals, such as videos you host on your site, also provide an ongoing resource that’s available long after the problem is solved. The customer can quickly come back to the solution to see it (and you can update these pages when software changes, with no disruption to the user experience). Plus, it means you’re creating one resource that is used to follow up with everyone who has the same issue.
Giving customers something that they can bookmark and hold onto for the long term, even if they aren’t going to use it, is the right way to build rapport and provide peace of mind.
Better service in a snap
Ready to start writing better customer service emails and follow-ups already? Great!
Zight (formerly CloudApp) is here to help by making it easier than ever to capture, create, and share visuals that deliver information faster, easier, and in a more digestible way. Sign up today for a free Zight (formerly CloudApp) account and give your support and sales teams what they need to meet recurring revenue and customer service targets.