Top 10 tips for customer service e-mail replies

EQ Admin

EQ Forum Admin
Staff member

I have been using e-mail in business, help desk, and other customer service settings for over 13 years. There are days when I become irritated at the lack of quality and useful information that I see in e-mail responses to clients. The following are some common sense guidelines to follow when sending an e-mail response to a client's question in a customer service environment.

  • Answer the question as fast as possible. As soon as you have gathered the information needed to provide a complete answer to the clients question you should answer them. One of the best examples of great e-mail customer service is Rarely does it take them longer than 15 minutes to give me a complete personal answer to my question. It's also worth noting that the answers come from a human and not from an automated system designed to give me a canned answer based on the keywords in my question.
  • Answer the question that was asked. A speedy reply is great, but if you do not answer the question the client will not be happy. Also be sure to clearly identify the answer to their question. do not make it hard for them to find the answer in your response.
  • Provide additional relevant information. If you believe there is a chance that the client may request additional related information in a follow-up e-mail, provide it in your original response. The key here is to provide relevant information that will not confuse the client, while at the same time not providing too much information that may be irrelevant and further confuse or frustrate the client.
  • Do not rely solely on canned answers. Having a template available to answer commonly asked questions is great, but tweak them a little to make the client feel that they are receiving a personal response. Cold and dry canned answers, when they are the only response provided, can leave them feeling that their question was not important to you.
  • Spell and grammar check your responses. This is an easy step you can take to make your answers more professional. A spell check and reading your answer aloud will help you to quickly identify spelling and grammar mistakes in your e-mail.
  • Avoid abbreviations, acronyms, and emoticons. Use full words and easy to understand English when composing your responses. Do not assume that a client knows all of the abbreviations and acronyms that you know. Also avoid technical lingo when possible. Emoticons in a client response are unprofessional.
  • Use proper formatting and plain text. Format your response into logical sections that make sense. Do not send HTML e-mails. Do not write sentences that are ALL CAPITALS. Not everyone can read them, and images are best left to an online knowledge base contains easy to follow tutorials for your services.
  • Include the original question. Include the original question under your response so the client can quickly identify which question the answer is for. They may have asked several questions across multiple e-mails. Also, I prefer to trim any disclaimers, signatures, and other recurring bits at the end of the thread from an e-mail. They only need to be listed once in the conversation.
  • Do not use delivery receipts or recall messages. The entire world does not run on Microsoft Exchange. Requesting delivery receipts is a common feature in mail clients but not all mail servers know how to handle them. Recalling a message from someone not using exchange does nothing more than clutter their inbox with a useless recall request.
  • Avoid using run on sentences. Sentences that are to long can become confusing and make an otherwise great response with useful information hard to understand.
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