Rational or Reactional?
How do you handle customers who send terse emails that make you wonder why so angry so quickly? Could be they do not realize how they sound. Or they could be intentionally rude. Regardless of their motive, in most cases as a business owner responding in kind is not wise.
It’s easy to not respond to rude e-mailers. They were rude so the heck with them!
But that could mean lost opportunity to learn why they are upset and if you can improve things to avoid this from happening again. Instead look for ways to defuse the anger, learn if there is anything you can improve on and solve the problem.
How to Handle a Rude Customer
Here’s an example I had through one of my eCom sites this week:
I tried to place my third order today. The site refused access. I tried the password reset procedure. That was in vain. Trying to do business shouldn’t be difficult. We’re done.
When I saw that e-mail in my inbox I literally said “Wow” out loud. No greeting, closing, formalities. If this was their third order, they know how we run our business. They would know this wasn’t typical. Why not just email asking for assistance? Why the “we’re done!”?
Thank you for reaching out! I wish you would have contacted us. I am not aware of any site problems as orders have been flowing in all day today.
If you can let us know any error messages you received that would be helpful.
As far as password reset email, Comcast could have sent the email to junk/trash. Did you check there? You’ll want to whitelist our domain @xxxxxxxxxxxxx.com to make sure our system emails get through.
I reset your password for you: XXXXXXXXX
For your trouble I’ve created a 5% discount coupon for your use. Use XXXXXXX at checkout.
The above approach turned his frown upside down! Turns out the reset e-mail was in his trash/junk! He placed an order and didn’t use the coupon because he felt bad for how he reacted.
You Always Have a Choice
I can tell you from experience that I get e-mails that sting on a regular basis because I have so many sites. In our rush-rush-rush culture, all too often e-mailers just blurt out what they perceive is happening. And rarely do they assume it has to do with anything they did or didn’t do.
In the situation above, I would have e-mailed asking nicely if there were known site problems and if assistance could be offered. That approach certainly would have been perceived as a more valued customer.
On the other hand there are those that type out curt, cryptic requests or comments that in many cases can be perceived are terse or demanding. They don’t mean that to happen — they are just in a hurry. Here again, I ignore the tone and respond professionally with courtesy.
Your Business E-mail Address is Your Business
This is even the case when e-mailing other business sites for partnerships, information or assistance. Or responding to those who approach you in less than a professional manner. Keep in mind that whenever you e-mail anyone, anywhere for personal or business reasons, using your business e-mail address reflects on your business!
By not making assumptions in an accusatory tone and just asking for help first lends to a positive initial impression. Of course the staples including a nice greeting, a coherent message and a “Thank you in advance for your anticipated assistance!” requires minimal effort and not worth the risk ignoring these basics can produce.
When it comes to your business e-mail activities, never cut corners because you are in a rush or because you are assuming. Refrain from typing cryptic sentences and hitting Send in lieu of taking the necessary time to communicate with clarity.
Yes, it does in fact take a little, minuscule, negligible amount of time to make sure your perceptions, intent and tone are clear. And adding that extra touch of a thank you will most certainly ensure that others will be pleased to be of service and want to help you out.