Scenario: You are a salesperson, customer service agent, or small business owner. You have received an email from a customer who is very unhappy with a recent interaction with someone from your organization and is threatening to take their business to your competitor.
First, share a few details with your peers about what occurred. Then, draft an email response that will validate their concern, maintain company integrity, and retain their business. Use the tips below to craft an effective response:
- Before you respond, put yourself in the customerâ€™s place to fully understand their complaint or concern
- Use a clear, descriptive Subject line
- Use a Salutation suitable for business communication
- Say “Thank you” for their feedback at the start of the email
- Apologize (even if you donâ€™t agree or if it was the customer’s fault)
- Explain what happened truthfully and politely
- Tell the customer what you will do to help
- Keep your message succinct, brief, and on topic
- Use a Closing suitable for business communication
Finally, keep in mind that this task involves important leadership values that constitute Executive Presence: respect for others, the ability to diffuse anger and focus on positive outcomes, showing empathy for another, and the willingness to be candid about an error or poor performance. These values lead to the ability to build trust â€” the foundation of leadership.
Share with us your strategy for this email and explain how your email will retain them as a customer, applying course materials and/or other resources to further the discussion.
Part A – Scenario – My company is into real estate and construction. We have our own Facility Management (FM) division to cater the maintenance requirements of our properties. Most of our clients are high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) who either own or lease properties in our development.
This particular individual (Letâ€™s call him Mr. James) had a problem of water-dripping from the roof of his leased expensive apartment. He had contacted our 24X7 FM help-line and lodged his complaint. To brief the character of this individual, he was highly arrogant, rude and egotistical. It was understood that the behaviour was a result of his richness. We had difficulties in handling his complaints before as he was equally stubborn and would threaten to take us to courts even for small issues.
To complicate the scenario, our FM 24X7 tele-representative missed to log in the complaint of Mr. James as there was an issue of electrical faults and fire-alarm activation in the buildings at the same time and he was flooded with complaints from different quarters at the same time.
Mr. James having waited for a day and not seeing any action from the FM department sent a harsh mail addressed to the FM Manager. He was insisting that the concerned tele-employee be terminated for negligence and threatened to take the issue to courts as usual. Also, he was threatening to spread the word about our â€œpoorâ€ service and move out of our property and also dissuade others from owning or leasing our properties. This was a serious issue and threatened our reputation in the competitive market.
The FM Manager assigned the task of handling this tough customer to me as I had the reputation of handling tricky situations in a professional manner.
Draft Email Response
Subject: Maintenance Service Shortfall
Dear Mr. James,
Thank you for your email.
Firstly we would like to apologize for the inconvenience and disappointment that you experienced in dealing with our tele-representative recently and we assure you that we are anxious to retain you as a satisfied customer.
Whist our customer satisfaction team is reviewing the information you sent us and conducting a full investigation to resolve this matter fairly, we would like to update you based on our preliminary inquiry.
It is understood that the tele-representative was flooded with other pressing complaints and inadvertently overlooked your case. At the conclusion of our detailed investigation, we will contact you about our findings and our actions to ensure avoidance of such incidents in future.
We assure you that your complaint and feedback will give the opportunity to remedy any problem that may exist and help to improve our service further.
Once again, please accept our sincere apologies and we look forward to serve you.
Should you require any further assistance, you are welcome to contact our FM Manager, Mr. Philip Evans at 8009999.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to assist you.
Customer Satisfaction Leader
ABC FM Division
Part B – Scenario: Like in every big international company from time to time some of the invoices are not paid on time or never posted. This is what happened this time. I received mail where one of our suppliers complains that his cooperation with our company from the beginning was not going smooth, customer support was bad, and invoices were not paid on time. At the same time our company expected availability from our customers, almost all the time, fast answers on the queries and emails. In this email I could see that the supplier was very angry and was considering claims for late payments or even stopping the cooperation.
Before answering this email, I first check all information regarding invoices payment for this supplier and I had to agree with customer not always everything was paid on time. At the same time, I knew I could not solve this issue alone because not only one team was involved but I could not wait with answering.
In the email I first thanked her for email with feedback and info about this situation, I apologized, that I was not aware of this situation because we had many suppliers and that I understand her anger. Explained also that it is important for both of parties to keep cooperation and that I will further explain this situation to my manager and keep client informed about the next steps.
After sending the mail to the supplier I send a mail to my manager and explain this situation and attaching all information I found in the system. Later that day I had short meeting with the manager planning next steps not only to solve this case but also how to avoid happening this in the future. During the next weeks the whole invoicing process was checked, where was any risk and looked for improvements.
At the end of the day the whole process gets better and less invoices were not paid on time. Of course, there are always people involved in this process and from time to time everyone makes mistakes. Because of the all improvements the cooperation with suppliers gets better.
It this example I received mail and I could: consider your purpose and your audience before you begin writing and let these guides both what you say and how you say it (1).