What we say is important but how we say is what makes the difference. Same goes for writing. Styling and appearance are of utmost importance when communicating with customers. Writing just for the sake of it won’t have an impact and your words will, unfortunately, go to waste.
To help you prevent this, we’ve prepared a simple guide that will support you in making sure everything you write is perfectly clear before you press the send button.
This guide’s headings can be used as a checklist every time you write an email:
- Consider the workflow and order
- Use bold and italics
- Use bullets, links, and P.S.
Consider the Customer’s Workflow
A text without proper styling, also known as a wall of text, is not what you want to send to a customer. It will literary look like a wall – an obstacle that’s often too difficult to pass, and a customer should never feel like that.
What you want to do is to get in your customers’ shoes and think about the easiest possible approach they’d like to take. Your emails should show, in the exact order, all the steps your customers must take to get to what they are looking for. Think logically. Steps should also be arranged by difficulty to keep the momentum going.
Here are the key principles you should follow:
Always explain things chronologically
This is a no-brainer, nothing comes before step one. Think about the steps as you write them, if there’s something you could do instead of the customer, do it.
Order by difficulty
Complexity or difficulty of the steps is a great way to organize a support email. In cases where the order doesn’t really matter (multiple tasks can qualify as #1) starting with the simplest tasks is the way to go. Customer will be more willing to follow your instructions if things start smoothly.
Be mindful of the workflow
This principle requires you to be a bit “clever” and consider all the possible distractions. Don’t link to another article or a video before the customer has read all the necessary steps. Keep them engaged and without interruptions in their workflow.
Again, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and recognize the moment reading becomes tiring and place all the links strategically to keep the engagement at the highest level.
Use Underline, Bold, and Italics
In the digital, underline, bold and italics have unofficial norms for when you should use them: underline for links, bold for emphasizing, and italics for quoting.
Underline is a relic of the past, used in the era of typewriting where bold and italics did not exist, so the only way to emphasize anything was to go back and underline a part of the text. Today, we only see underline in words that are linked – you should keep it that way. Otherwise, it is misleading and more often than not infuriating.
Bold, on the other hand, is a preferable way of emphasizing words that bear significance. Don’t go all in, bold only important words and phrases. Think of it as a heading in the article. Bold is also a great way to add clarity to an email in case you’re replying to several questions. Use bold or another color for customer’s questions and regular text for your answer.
Italics is often used to cite or give directions. If you want to explain how to buy an item you’d probably go with something like:
“After you’ve chosen an item, click on add to cart and after that press Buy.”
It’s oversimplified but you get the point.
Another thing that is often used in writing is ALL CAPS. Let me stop you right there. On the internet, all caps is often perceived as yelling. You wouldn’t yell at your customer, WOULD YOU?!
Using Bullets, Links, and the P.S.
The options are there, use them. Every email client has bullets and linking options built in. Exploit them whenever you think it will simplify instructions and improve the structure of your message.
Bullets are an amazing way to create a checklist or a ladder of steps that need to be taken. An alternative is numbering, in case you’re counting exact order or numbers of steps to be taken.
Think of structure as the king of writing, bullets are the crown.
Links should be used with caution. As we’ve mentioned earlier, you don’t want to distract a customer before he’s reached the important part. Don’t overdo it. How focused do you think a customer is with 10 tabs open? You probably get the point.
Pay attention to what words are you linking to. Is it clear and understandable? Is there a call to action? Encouragement and explanation are essential. There’s nothing wrong with writing “Click here.”
Have you heard that P.S. is the part of an email everyone always reads? This is a long-known marketing secret, but using it for support emails is a great trick to remind customers about the things they shouldn’t forget or to offer a hand if there’s anything else they need you to help them with. It wraps up the email and is a great way to add an extra sentence or two you didn’t know where to put.
Did you already abide by these rules and tricks? We hope this article helps you communicate better and improve the rate of clarity of your support emails.