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Why sending angry emails to customers is bad news

8th Jul 2017
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It’s late, you’re tired and you have received a rude and angry email from a customer who you have tried your best to help. In theory you know that sending an angry email is a poor way to handle a customer who is frustrating to deal with, but sometimes when your patience has run out, and you’re operating on little sleep sending an angry email feels like the right thing to do.

But the reality is, sending an angry email to a customer or a prospect is the worst thing you can do. Take a minute to read why and rethink sending that expletive laden diatribe sitting in your drafts folder.

The New York Times Test

Also known as the front page test or the newspaper test, the New York Times test is what you should think of before sending an angry email to a customer or prospect. If you woke up the next day and the contents of your email was printed on the cover of the New York Times for millions of readers to see, how would you feel?

Chances are you’d feel embarrassed by your actions and would regret sending the email. This heuristic should serve as a sense-check about the indecency of sending an angry email to a customer. Think about it for a minute, the customer has taken his or her time to investigate your product or service, they even paid you for it, and now you are thinking of sending a rude, or aggressive email to this person?

This thought experiment serves as an indication that our collective social norms will most likely not support behavior that is abusive to customers, for this reason alone, it’s best to avoid sending an angry email.

Public Shaming and Bad PR

If you put public decency aside, there are still other reasons to avoid sending an angry email to a customer. Today, any trace of corporate misdeed can result in serious public shaming on social media or in bad PR.

In his book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Ron Jonson discusses the recent phenomenon of public shaming through social media. The author profiles employees who were fired because office indiscretions became viral topics on social media. People’s reputations were irreparably harmed because of the viral nature of social media shaming. Sending an angry email to a customer with a small but dedicated social media following can result in a serious social media backlash. This backlash can result in termination or at the very least, in bad press for your brand.

Poor Search Engine Results

A recent study referenced on Monster indicates that 77% of employers use organic search to research prospective employees before making an offer. Similarly, Google found that over 70% of buyers use online search to research new products they are considering. That means that even one bad review either personally or for your business can have dramatic negative impacts on future success.

Today, a customer who is offended by an angry email has a number of different venues that they can use to, to voice concern. Platforms like Google My Business, Amazon and Yelp are popular for B2C reviews, while B2B review platforms like Capterra and G2Crowd are becoming increasingly popular among professionals. All of these review sites typically rank well on search engines. That means a single scathing customer review can have a profoundly negative impact on search engine results moving forward. In fact, Brightline Local recently reported that 86% of potential customers are negatively influenced by negative online reviews.

Customer Experience is Everything

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for brands to build meaningful sentiment among customers. Business is becoming more transactional and customers are being increasingly inundated with brand messages. A common belief among professional marketers is that the average American is exposed to about 5,000 ads a day. That means that as a professional you should be trying to create a meaningful customer experience with each customer you engage with. Sending an angry email to vent frustration is not the answer. Instead, embrace the opportunity to win back a customer by going above and beyond their expectations.

If a customer is truly upset about their experience with your company, it is a good indication that the company plays a meaningful role in the customer’s life. Afterall, if the issue was unimportant to them they probably would not have gotten frustrated in the first place. Their frustration actually means that your business is very important to them, let this serve as an indication that they can still be won back by exceptional service.

Conclusion

The next time you are tempted to send an angry email to a customer, take a minute to review a few best practices. Instead of sending an angry email to a customer, email the customer something totally unexpected - give it your best effort to provide out-of-this-world customer care. If in the end the customer is still unsatisfied with your best effort, at least you did work that you would be proud to have displayed on the cover of your favorite newspaper. The alternative is a damaged personal or corporate reputation and an insulted customer.

It’s late, you’re tired and you have received a rude and angry email from a customer who you have tried your best to help. In theory you know that sending an angry email is a poor way to handle a customer who is frustrating to deal with, but sometimes when your patience has run out, and you’re operating on little sleep sending an angry email feels like the right thing to do.

But the reality is, sending an angry email to a customer or a prospect is the worst thing you can do. Take a minute to read why and rethink sending that expletive laden diatribe sitting in your drafts folder.

The New York Times Test

Also known as the front page test or the newspaper test, the New York Times test is what you should think of before sending an angry email to a customer or prospect. If you woke up the next day and the contents of your email was printed on the cover of the New York Times for millions of readers to see, how would you feel?

Chances are you’d feel embarrassed by your actions and would regret sending the email. This heuristic should serve as a sense-check about the indecency of sending an angry email to a customer. Think about it for a minute, the customer has taken his or her time to investigate your product or service, they even paid you for it, and now you are thinking of sending a rude, or aggressive email to this person?

This thought experiment serves as an indication that our collective social norms will most likely not support behavior that is abusive to customers, for this reason alone, it’s best to avoid sending an angry email.

Public Shaming and Bad PR

If you put public decency aside, there are still other reasons to avoid sending an angry email to a customer. Today, any trace of corporate misdeed can result in serious public shaming on social media or in bad PR.

In his book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Ron Jonson discusses the recent phenomenon of public shaming through social media. The author profiles employees who were fired because office indiscretions became viral topics on social media. People’s reputations were irreparably harmed because of the viral nature of social media shaming. Sending an angry email to a customer with a small but dedicated social media following can result in a serious social media backlash. This backlash can result in termination or at the very least, in bad press for your brand.

Poor Search Engine Results

A recent study referenced on Monster indicates that 77% of employers use organic search to research prospective employees before making an offer. Similarly, Google found that over 70% of buyers use online search to research new products they are considering. That means that even one bad review either personally or for your business can have dramatic negative impacts on future success.

Today, a customer who is offended by an angry email has a number of different venues that they can use to, to voice concern. Platforms like Google My Business, Amazon and Yelp are popular for B2C reviews, while B2B review platforms like Capterra and G2Crowd are becoming increasingly popular among professionals. All of these review sites typically rank well on search engines. That means a single scathing customer review can have a profoundly negative impact on search engine results moving forward. In fact, Brightline Local recently reported that 86% of potential customers are negatively influenced by negative online reviews.

Customer Experience is Everything

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for brands to build meaningful sentiment among customers. Business is becoming more transactional and customers are being increasingly inundated with brand messages. A common belief among professional marketers is that the average American is exposed to about 5,000 ads a day. That means that as a professional you should be trying to create a meaningful customer experience with each customer you engage with. Sending an angry email to vent frustration is not the answer. Instead, embrace the opportunity to win back a customer by going above and beyond their expectations.

If a customer is truly upset about their experience with your company, it is a good indication that the company plays a meaningful role in the customer’s life. Afterall, if the issue was unimportant to them they probably would not have gotten frustrated in the first place. Their frustration actually means that your business is very important to them, let this serve as an indication that they can still be won back by exceptional service.

Conclusion

The next time you are tempted to send an angry email to a customer, take a minute to review a few best practices. Instead of sending an angry email to a customer, email the customer something totally unexpected - give it your best effort to provide out-of-this-world customer care. If in the end the customer is still unsatisfied with your best effort, at least you did work that you would be proud to have displayed on the cover of your favorite newspaper. The alternative is a damaged personal or corporate reputation and an insulted customer.

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