Nobody likes receiving an obviously scripted reply to their support question, especially when it’s irrelevant to their needs.
While sending thoughtless canned responses can result in an awful experience for the customer, reusable customer service phrases offer you a better alternative.
These phrases serve as a playbook of tested language you can depend on to de-escalate challenging situations. After all, customers will take a reliable fix for their problem over a flashy display any day.
There are many scenarios in customer service that come down to solving semi-related issues, or reaching similar outcomes. Equipping yourself with tested, effective phrases can help you tackle these sticky situations with more clarity and consistency, to the benefit of both parties—if you know what to say and when.
Customer service phrases to keep in mind
The support questions you receive can run the gamut from supremely technical and difficult, to asks that are as simple as the status of a recent order.
So, while the bodies of some of your emails may differ greatly, there are three considerations that you should try to cover in every customer support interaction:
- Thank your customers for their feedback
- Acknowledge the customer's pain point
- Invite the customer to reach out again if they ever need anything
By incorporating customer service phrases that cover these bases into every support interaction, you can help ensure a smoother experience for both you and your customer.
1. Feedback is a gift: Thank your customers for it
No matter what the customer’s state of mind is, start every email by thanking them for contacting you. Really, the customer emailing in gives you a chance to learn about a problem you didn’t know existed, or to save a sale you might have lost for good. For taking the time to share any feedback at all, they deserve your thanks.
Beyond that, thanking an upset or otherwise frustrated customer tends to defuse the situation and can put them in the right state of mind to be more receptive to what you have to say. In fact, 68% of customers leave because they believe the business does not care about them. It’s in your company’s best interest to start working against that from the very start.
Imagine this: You haven’t eaten all day. You get home, and find out your selfish roommate ate all of your groceries. Fine. You order a pizza, discover the store was out of your delivery range, so you drive 20 minutes to go pick it up.
When you get to the pizza place, they still don’t have your food ready. You watch as they prepare a pizza with anchovies, and it looks suspiciously like the one they just put in your box. “Whatever,” you tell yourself, “they’re professionals. I’m sure they didn’t mess my pizza up.” You're then assured by the professionals that it was the right pizza. When you get home and open the box, you discover the pizza has anchovies all over it. You hate anchovies. Your dinner—and mood—are basically ruined.
Now, 30 minutes later, you’re walking back into the shop with your spirits and patience running a bit thin. Absolutely no one would blame you for being upset. You’ve lost a part of your day you can’t get back and you haven’t received what you paid for. But, the person sees you coming and says: “Hey, thanks so much for coming back. You were the person we gave that anchovy pizza to, right?” At least a little bit of your pent up steam has subsided, no?
Learn More: What is customer retention and why is it important?
Sure, pizza and ecommerce support are a little bit different, but my point is thanking your customers from the get-go helps ease nearly any tense situation. For example, one of your customers might have been expecting one of your products today for their wedding, and it didn’t arrive. Or, perhaps they’ve run into a bug on your site that is making it impossible for them to update their credit card.
By thanking them at the start of your email response you are able to:
- Let them know that you appreciate them being customers
- Potentially defuse tense or aggravating situations
- Recognize them as a “regular” if you’ve helped them or they’ve purchased from you before
- Set the tone for a positive interaction with your company
So, how do turn this into a repeatable process? Try one of these different customer support phrases, right at the start of your message.
❓A new email, asking a simple question:
"Thanks so much for emailing—that’s a great question."
🕵️A new email, reporting a shipping error or missing item:
“Thanks so much for emailing—I’m sorry to hear that you are having trouble.”
👂A response email, explaining more after you’ve asked for additional clarification:
“Thanks for writing back.That makes a lot of sense.”
📝A response email, after explaining feedback on an existing product:
“Thanks for sharing those insights.”
⏱A response email after a long wait for troubleshooting:
“Thanks again for your patience here.”
2. Acknowledge customer problems as valid and important
So, returning to our pizza analogy (because why wouldn’t we): Imagine if the person at the front desk, right after saying “Thank you” then said, “I totally hear you—I hate anchovies too. I can’t believe that we made that mistake, but because you called on your way in, we already have a pizza without anchovies in the oven for you. It will be out in 5 minutes.”
An amazing turnaround to a previously irritating situation, right? You’d probably be blown away, and at this point, your level of frustration would be at a 3 or 4 instead of the 11 that it was at when you walked back through the door.
You provide similar moments for your customers when they reach out to you. When you’re on the other side of the table, acknowledge that you’ve heard and understood what their request is about. This provides value for the customer in a few different ways:
- It confirms that what you are hearing and assuming about their issue is correct as you repeat what they’ve said in another way
- It allows them to feel heard and listened to
- It validates their concerns, and positions you as their advocate to help them
- It gives you the opportunity to position yourself as an advocate or someone in their corner
But what does that actually look like in an email to a customer? Here are a few different examples of how you can acknowledge a customer’s concerns:
📅When expressing a concern over a shipping date:
“I totally hear you—not knowing the exact time that UPS is going to arrive with your package is really stressful, especially because you need these items for a special party.”
👕When curious about sizing on an item:
“Sizing can always be such a tricky thing; it’s one of my least favorite things about shopping! We’ve actually got a really accurate sizing chart in our documentation here…”
🤔If an item is not similar to what they thought they purchased:
“Wow, I’m sorry to hear that the product wasn’t what you expected, I know that can be a total bummer.”
🤕If something was damaged in transit:
“I’m so sorry to hear that the item arrived damaged. I can definitely see how that would be frustrating. I’ll get a new one shipped to you right away, I’ll send the tracking information as soon as I have it.”
🚚If they are frustrated about policies for delivery:
“I know it can be tricky to make sure that someone is home when the item is going to be delivered, especially when shipping windows can be so large. We actually have a few ways around that, though. You can read a bit more in our documentation here…”
You’ll notice that many of these customer service phrases include versions of “I’m sorry” or “I understand.” While you are acknowledging the issue, in some cases you are verbally putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. The importance of cultivating empathy with your customers and positioning yourself as another human that understands their definitively human issues cannot be understated.
However, don’t use the phrase “I’m sorry,” if it is something that you actually do not feel empathy for. Trivializing apologies makes them meaningless. For example, if your customer is asking for a product that you will never carry, you probably do not feel sorry, so don’t say you are. Similarly, if you’ve totally bungled someone’s order that they needed for their daughter’s first birthday, you almost certainly do feel sorry—say so, with feeling.
Come from a place of wanting to authentically do best by the customer, not just immediately solve the issue and get the ticket out of your inbox. Just like you can tell if a friend is apologizing emptily, your customer can tell when you are, too.
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3. Always invite customers to write back
Now that you’ve gotten your pizza, checked it to make sure that it’s everything that you’d ever dreamed of, and received a coupon so the next time you order your meal will be free, you’re feeling a lot better about the whole situation.
As you’re getting ready to walk out the door, the same person at the register says “Hey, thanks again for coming back today and letting us get it right. I’m glad we were able to figure the situation out, but if you get home and discover something still isn’t up to snuff, give us a phone call and we’ll get it all figured out. I won’t make you drive all the way back here, either. Hope to see you soon!”
Basically, this pizza guy has turned you from being possibly the biggest hangry detractor into being decently happy, walking out the door with a smile on your face. All it took was three straightforward things, and maybe the added promise of a little something extra if the order still didn’t work out.
These are all simple phrases and considerations that you can implement in your own support experience to start creating similar impressions with your customers. When supporting someone from your online shop, though, it might look a little bit different. For you, maybe one of these options will work:
📦 After product or shipping feedback:
“Thanks so much, again, for letting us know your thoughts on this. Please reach out if anything else comes up, but otherwise have a great rest of your day.”
🛒 After an issue using your shopping cart:
“I’m so happy that’s working as expected now. Let us know if you run into any other trouble, but otherwise have an excellent week.”
✅ After you’ve found a solution to their issue:
“I’m glad that helped! Let us know if you have any other questions or concerns, but otherwise enjoy the rest of your week.”
While this might seem like a straightforward and simple thing to do, the pivotal moments in support are defined by the thoughtfulness and sincerity of the gesture—there’s no need to overcomplicate what works. By thanking your customers and inviting them to reach out again if they have trouble you show the customer that:
- You care about what they have to say and their thoughts on your brand and product
- You understand that the issue that they had was because of your product and not something that they did
- You will continue to solve the issue if this response doesn’t do the trick
- You value their continued patronage and support
Support is your second chance to make it right
Customer support for an online business with so many moving parts can be incredibly stressful. There are so many different pieces to manage, with many that feel out of your control. Now add to these challenges the fact that you never know what’s heading toward your support inbox.
In trying to bring some semblance of order to support, remember to keep the three considerations we covered above in mind: Thank your customers when they first reach out to you, acknowledge that the issues that they bring up are valid and important, and always invite them to reach back out again if they continue to have trouble.
Doing so will help solidify your relationship with them and show through action and words that you truly and deeply value their patronage. It’ll also serve to defuse any tense situations you might run into, and keep them coming back for more—even if you accidentally put anchovies on their pizza, which everyone knows is the worst kind of thing to do.