Published: January 26, 2021 | Comments
“Thank you for contacting us.”
There’s nothing wrong with that little email starter sentence, but it’s not great, either. Think about it. In most cases, you’re thanking customers for doing something they wish they didn’t have to do - email you to complain about a problem or to get help. Sure, that opener is polite enough, but can we do better? Can we write something fresher, less scripted-sounding, more personal, or better aligned with our company’s brand voice?
Of course we can write a better first sentence, and I’m here to help. I’ve listed 12 better ways to start an email reply to a customer. Choose one or two that suit you, your company, and the customer’s reason for emailing you.
1. Thank you for contacting us about [insert topic].
This starter sentence is worlds better than “Thank you for contacting us” because its second half demonstrates you’ve read the customer’s email and can paraphrase their concern. Here are some examples:
- “Thank you for contacting us about your delayed order ABC1234 for a case of disinfecting wipes.”
- “Thank you for contacting us about your frustrating experience with our online registration system.”
2. I’m sorry you had to contact us about [insert topic]. I wish [insert desired or intended outcome].
When the customer is incensed about a problem, and about having to email to get the problem fixed, you can start your email by recognizing both these feelings.
- “I’m sorry you had to contact us about your delayed order ABC1234 for a case of disinfecting wipes. I wish your order had arrived on January 7, as planned.”
- “I’m sorry you had to contact us about the incorrect postal address on your account. I wish we’d updated your address when you notified us you’d moved back in December.”
Now, you can’t just leave off with a wish that the proper thing had happened. If you use this email opener, you’ll continue the email by explaining how you’ll fix the problem promptly.
3. I was [insert a feeling] when we received your email about [insert topic] because [insert reason].
If you use this email opener, you’ll move smoothly from discussing your reaction to what the customer told you to what you’ll do to fix the problem.
- “I was initially confused when we received your email about your missing order ABC1234 because our records show this order was delivered on January 7. However, when I looked into this delivery further, I discovered…”
- “I was concerned when we received your email about the incorrect charges on last month’s bill because you mentioned that this problem has happened before.”
4. I’m glad you contacted us about [insert topic] because [insert reason].
This starter is an excellent option when you really can jump in and fix the customer’s problem, and when you actually are sincerely glad the customer contacted you.
- “I’m glad you contacted us about slow load times with your website because we can quickly switch your site to an upgraded server to solve this problem.”
- “I’m glad you contacted us about adding a beneficiary to this account because we must make this change before the end of the month when the policy renews.”
5. When we received your email about [insert topic], I immediately checked [insert resource or record].
This sentence emphasizes action, so when you’re able to take clear steps to solve the customer’s problem, this would be a great way to open the email.
- “When we received your email about the duplicate charge on your credit card statement, I immediately checked your account history and issued a refund.”
6. It’s good to hear from you.
Use this sentence for customers who have written in before or who are offering positive feedback or gentle criticism.
- “It’s good to hear from you. We’re glad to know our store associate was able to find the hypoallergenic baby soap for you even though you were previously told it was out of stock.”
- “It’s good to hear from you. I’m not sure when we’ll be releasing the updated version of our Privacy Toolkit for Social Workers, but it should be within about six weeks. Are you signed up for our weekly newsletter? If so, you’ll be notified as soon as the new toolkit is ready.”
7. I wish things had gone more smoothly when you tried/were trying to [insert task].
This “gone more smoothly” wording is versatile, indeed. You can use it when your company has made a mistake or when the customer has.
- “I wish things had gone more smoothly when you tried to purchase the 14 ounce box of our Fine Fancy Chocolates online. We have discontinued this product, so I understand why you had trouble finding it. I believe you’ll like our new product, the Chocolate Elegance Collection, which is available…”
- “I wish things had gone more smoothly when you were downloading the software update. From your description, I believe your Internet connection wasn’t stable. Here’s what I recommend…”
8. I can understand why you wanted to let us know about [insert topic].
Sometimes, customers just want your company to know about their experience or opinion. They don’t expect a coupon in return, and they don’t need your hands-on help to accomplish a task. This sentence is perfect for those occasions.
- “I can understand why you wanted to let us know about your long wait for service at our Corner Café in Springfield last week. We’re really sorry it took more than 15 minutes to get your order. I contacted the café manager and learned that they were short-staffed last week. The manager assured me that they are now fully staffed and wait times should be no longer than two minutes, even for specialty coffee drinks.”
- “I can understand why you wanted to let us know that you disagree with our CEO’s recent comments, which were reported in The New York Times.”
9. My name is [Name], and I’m glad to have the chance to respond to your concern about [insert topic].
Use this sentence when the customer is upset or angry and when knowing there’s a real person behind the email (you) will help the customer trust the info they’re given.
- “My name is Leslie, and I’m glad to have the chance to respond to your concern about the organic ingredients in our frozen meals.”
- “My name is Leslie, and I’m glad to have the chance to respond to your concern about how we collect personal data on our website.”
10. I’d be glad to help you [insert task customer wants to complete].
This is a perfect email-starter for customers who just want to get something done.
- “I’d be glad to help you enroll your daughter in our online art classes.”
- “I’d be glad to help you add a phone line to your wireless account.”
11. Thanks for [calling, writing, emailing, explaining, asking]…
This sentence is better than “Thank you for contacting us” because it’s specific. It uses wording that reflects what the customer actually did.
- “Thanks for calling us on January 5 to express your concerns about our online security procedures. We’re replying by email, as you requested, so we can fully document these procedures for you.”
- “Thanks for asking about how to add a beneficiary to your life insurance policy. I would be glad to explain how to complete this task online or to schedule a call with you to discuss these steps.”
12. You’re right.
That little two-word sentence is pretty, isn’t it? And think of all the beautiful empathetic sentences you could write after it.
- “You’re right. We should have checked to see whether you were a Premium or Platinum customer before we quoted you a price. I’m sorry you’ve had to contact us more than once to get accurate pricing for this project.”
- “You’re right. Waiting on hold for 30 minutes is extremely aggravating. I’m truly sorry you’ve had to wait so long to get answers from us recently.”
The first sentence of an email to a customer gets more attention than all the other sentences combined (expect maybe the ones that use the words “refund,” “coupon,” or “voucher”). Write a first-impression sentence that gets the email conversation off to a great start.