Small Business Customer Service Tips: The Art of the Short Reply

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When I first joined the customer support team at crowdSPRING, I was convinced that every customer or creative needed detailed replies; the next great American novel in email response form. More content means good customer service, right? Boy, was I wrong about that. Think about your own experiences as a customer. Would you rather save time and get the answers you need, or take time to dig for the answers you need in lengthy verse? Less is more. Your customers want answers, not short essays.

So how do you give your customers all of the information they need while keeping your reply short and concise? It’s easy enough if you just train your brain to do it and use the handy tools at your disposal.

Here are the top 4 ways to shorten your responses:

1. Make sure you understand the customer’s question.

I know this seems obvious, but take the time to really read the ticket or email and make sure you know exactly what your customer needs from you. In fact, it’s impossible to show empathy – something critically important when delivering customer service – if you don’t understand the question. This will help you ensure you hit all necessary points and give an accurate response. And of course, there are times when you just need to smile and let the conversation flow, as we discovered in this very odd but very funny exchange with a customer.

willis

2. Use your FAQs.

More likely than not, it took a group of people on your team a good amount of effort to produce your FAQs, so use them. Answer the question and maybe add “Here is a handy resource to provide further clarification: (and add a link so that the customer can quickly access that resource)” Links to FAQs are helpful because they give your customer a wealth of information, which they can even bookmark and reference back to any time they need it.

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 3.20.18 PM3. Make a list.

Everyone loves a good list (much like this one, but shorter of course). If you need to provide a great deal of information or even a number of steps for your customer, use a list format. This will keep the reply organized and clear without you having to write a lot, or without the customer having to read too much; a great way to simplify things and cut back on excess content.

list

4. Use visual aids.

I often find screen shots to be my best friend when it comes to written communication with customers. People get a great deal of clarification from being able to see what you’re referring to, and it can get the point across much easier than a wordy response, so don’t be afraid to attach screen shots. Customers will know you’ve gone the extra mile to help them and will truly appreciate it.

visuals

Most of us worry that if we keep things short, our customers will think we are being rude or are writing them off. The reality is that customers want and need help; they want answers. Customer service is not measured by word count, so keep that in mind.

What are the tools you use to help keep your responses short and sweet?