5 steps to effectively handling abusive customer e-mail

After recently reading a few posts about dealing with abusive customer e-mails, I would like to add my two cents worth:

  1. Don’t take it personal. Sometimes people are much more abrasive via e-mail then they would ever be in person. If it helps, try to picture in your mind one of your worst days and then top it all off by having to write an e-mail to a company where you feel that you haven’t received the best service possible. This is not to say that the customer’s behavior is justifiable, but maybe a little more understandable. I think we have all said or written something that we latter regretted.
  2. Keep your cool. Like my mama always says, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” First gain your composure and then start to formulate your response.
  3. Keep it short and sweet. Customers who are abusive may be looking for fuel to add to the fire. At times, customers send e-mails that, given a different moment in time, they may not have ever sent. If you do not respond in the same “jerkiness” tone and you keep your response short and sweet, they may even apologize!
  4. Respond in a timely matter. Make sure that customer service agents have the authority to handle problems quickly and with as little red tape as possible.
  5. Ask for feedback (when appropriate). If no reason for the root cause of the angry e-mail was given, ask for addition information. After about 2 – 4 weeks, send an e-mail to the customer asking for feedback as to why the customer wanted to cancel, downgrade, etc. At times, these customers may have valuable ideas for improvement that simply cannot be conveyed during the heat of the moment. If the customer does give valuable advice for needed improvements, don’t forget to thank them and let them know how their feedback has been implemented. Other times, asking for feedback may only serve to rekindle the abuse. Whether to ask for feedback or not will have to be a judgment call based on the previous interactions.

Are there any other steps you would add?

4 Responses

  1. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

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