When the crap hits the fan and your customer has a problem, how do you reply?
One of the most awkward situations you’ll ever have to write copy for is when a customer complains or comes to support for help.
These are situations that demand a business to step lightly: respond the wrong way and you’ll escalate the situation, BUT, if you respond well, you have a chance to earn yourself a customer for life.
Are you ready to handle these issues when they arise?
You will be once you’re done this post.
I want to take you on a quick journey through a REAL support experience I just had with the company TransferWise, and show you their incredible response.
I’ve recently been doing some work for a brilliant guy who lives far, far away from me – over in Korea (I…think?)
Our project had just finished up, and instead of my usual payment method (Stripe), he asked if he could pay via TransferWise, whom I’d never worked with. After looking into it, I thought it was a good idea and we processed the payments that way.
After the project had wrapped up, my client sent the final transfer. Curious, I went to check my bank statements to see if the money was arriving in my account.
TransferWise had sent me an email saying I should have the money by December 7th – but when I looked on my statement it was nowhere to be found.
In a panic, I wrote TransferWise support this email (click to load it in full size):
Short, sweet, polite. You get more bees with honey than with wild, angry, irrational ranting.
Within an hour, I received the following:
This response is an absolute work of art.
It covers off everything I want to see in this kind of situation.
Let’s break it down:
First, the email responds to me by name and gives me a genuine, convincing sounding apology. They THANK ME for getting in touch, and then show some empathy for my situation.
Most emails would stop here – or offer up a simple, highly templated “We’re looking into the issue”.
Instead, TransferWise’s support team…
- Explains the situation from their side:
“I have checked for payment and see…”
Right away, I know what information they’ve got to work with. They explain my problem back to me, mirroring my concerns and showing me they know what’s happening in my situation. I feel comfortable because they’re treating me like an individual, not a routine complaint.
- Offers some reassurance:
“Don’t worry, we’ll figure out what happened here.”
How delightfully HUMAN! After explaining the situation from their end, they once again show me they’re on my team instead of being defensive.
- Clearly outlines what they’re doing to help:
“I will obtain the Proof of Payout for this transaction…”
Awesome, I know what they’re doing to assist me. This added level of detail gives me confidence they’re doing something specific to solve my problem.
- Gives a reasonable timeline:
“…this will take 5 working days to receive.”
I know exactly how long I will need to wait. Even if I’m not happy about that length of time, I’m satisfied because I’m not left in the dark wondering if I’ll ever get help. They go on to let me know what’s going to happen next, step by step.
- Provides a quick troubleshoot:
“Also, please note that the payment will appear as coming from ________”
With this tip, I’ve got a means of double-checking whether or not the money really DID come in. Instead of making me feel like an idiot, they offer a kind suggestion that I can use to make sure my complaint is valid. I don’t feel like I’ve wasted their time – I feel like they want to help me solve this quickly.
- Makes themselves available:
“In the meantime, if you have any questions please let us know”
This is an open invitation to keep the conversation going if I don’t feel like they answered everything I needed to know.
This is one of the most thoughtful, human-sounding responses I’ve ever received from a support team.
As it turns out, the mistake was MY fault!
I had misread my own bank statements, and the payment had indeed come in under one of the names they outlined in the post. I was able to solve the problem very quickly, all thanks to their help.
Businesses, copywriters, consultants – take note! If you want to write a killer support email…
Address the customer personally, show genuine empathy, explain the situation in detail, outline your courses of action and timelines, offer up troubleshooting or ways they can verify the problem, and make yourself available for follow-up.
Now – go forth, and make the world a calmer, happier place!