Whether we like it or not, email is the dominant form of communication used by the majority of our homeowners. Email’s ubiquitous nature and ease of use are clear indications that its grip on our daily work will not let up any time soon.
Yet for all its convenience email has one major drawback: it can be a cold and highly impersonal form of communication. This fact presents a real threat in the battle to establish your business as a best-in-class service provider.
The good news is that crafting an effective customer-support email is simple, and is something your whole team can easily learn. By including the following five key ingredients in every support email you’ll ensure that your homeowners are receiving the personal touch that is so vital to an effective support strategy.
1. Acknowledge the Situation
The first ingredient in an effective response may sound simple, but it’s one that can easily be forgotten when your first instinct is to jump in and solve the problem.
The first step is to acknowledge the real problem. In most instances a homeowner is far more upset about the inconvenience of the situation than they are about the actual technology. Showing empathy is a critical step towards diffusing their frustration. Unless you happen to know the the situation has resulted from a mistake on your part, you should resist the urge to apologize. Doing so doesn’t help the situation, and only encourages the notion that this is somehow your fault.
Here are a few simple suggestions:
“I know this is frustrating.”
“I understand that this is a problem we need to address right way.”
“It’s horrible when this happens.”
2. Address the Immediate Root Problem
The aim of the next ingredient is to put your client at ease by addressing the root problem, not just the technological issue. When a technology failure in the home interferes with someone’s ability to enjoy a movie with their family, get some work done, or simply relax and enjoy some music, they understandably become frustrated for reasons beyond the tech failing.
There can be many reasons for this. Perhaps they’re worried about missing their favorite Olympic event. Maybe the technology failure is cause for embarrassment in front of guests. Or they could be concerned that fixing the issue will cost them money after they’ve already spent so much to have the system installed.
Quickly and proactively addressing the underlying problem will help deescalate the situation.
Try statements like the ones below:
“I know we have to fix this quickly – do you have a few minutes to try some quick troubleshooting steps?”
“If this doesn’t work, I have a backup plan that will have you up and running in time for the show.”
“Is there someone else at the home who can help me troubleshoot this while you tend to your guests?”
“If we can’t get this fixed right away we will find a workaround. In the meantime I have a few ideas.”
3. Ask Follow Up Questions
Once you’ve addressed the frustration and anxiety of the situation it’s vital that you immediately begin gathering relevant information about the specific problem. Asking a few key questions in the immediate response will ensure that you have the necessary information to effectively troubleshoot the issue.
Even if you can’t address the problem right now, asking the quick and simple questions right away has the effect of putting a solution in motion, further de-escalating the situation.
Simple examples follow:
“Have you tried a different source?”
“Does this problem happen on all TVs?”
“When was the last time this worked properly?”
4. Set and Manage Expectations
Above all else, the homeowner needs to come away from your response with a concrete understanding of what to expect moving forward. Be aggressive in your pursuit of a solution but don’t over promise! Nothing will frustrate a homeowner quicker than missed expectations. This particular ingredient will be highly specific to the situation, but here a few suggestions to give you an idea.
Notice that each suggestion outlines a specific action step and gives a timetable for delivery:
“We will jump on this immediately and look into the issue – you might see some devices power off while I troubleshoot. Please give me 10 minutes and I’ll be back to you with next steps.”
“I would like to access the system remotely and may need to perform some reboots. Is there a specific time today that you’d like me to do that?”
“I will need to check with my service coordinator to see how quickly we can get someone out there. I will get back to you with an update within the hour.”
5. Make Yourself Available
Email is a great tool. But because of its one-way nature you don’t receive the immediate acknowledgement from the other person as you would with a phone call. Therefore it’s critical to close your message with an invitation to the client to reach out directly if they have any further questions or concerns. Making yourself available to the client helps drive home the value that you’re adding as their personal technology support team.
Statements like the following ones will let the client know they’re in good hands:
“If you’re having trouble with these next steps please don’t hesitate to call.”
“If you need any immediate clarification I’m happy to jump on a call.”
“If you prefer to walk through this by phone or if you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out by phone.”
For all of its convenience, email can still present real challenges when it comes to providing best-in-class service. But, while every support incident is different, there are common ingredients that can be used in every communication to make sure your clients feel they are in good hands.
By ensuring that everyone on your support team follow this recipe you will be well on your way to effectively implementing email as part of your top-tier service strategy.