Communication · Customers

What are the best practices for customer response etiquette

Alison Lewis CEO/Creative Director

February 25th, 2014

Hi there. We're getting some interesting feedback for our products. I'd like to always respond positively and wondered if there is any hints on etiquette for things like:
  • people who obviously speak another language and whose writing does not make sense
  • Requests that are kind but have nothing to do with the product
  • Responses to people who make inquiries that really sound horrible
  • and other things that may come up.

Any recommendations on where to go for those who need to learn quick!

Alison Lewis

Mark Neild Empowering quietly creative people to prosper through innovative yet authentic and engaging business models

February 26th, 2014

Alison First question is what you want to achieve. Clearly some of your respondents are more interesting to you as potential customers than others, but all of them have the ability to influence their own circles which might contain interesting customers. So for respondents that you want to cultivate as customers, you need to try to keep a sales dialogue open by moving them down the funnel. For respondents with really useful feedback, but not obviously potential customers keep interacting to gather more information. For respondents who are not useful to you, you can create a stock reply something like "thanks for your interesting feedback, which we are considering as part of our roadmap" The key point is to minimise the effort expended on those with no resources to offer, whilst still being polite and tailor your replies to those with the most promising resources. For language barriers there is a different question. Is there enough potential customers with a common language that make it worth developing an offer for that group? The problem is that you will not know the answer for some time so it is worth noting which languages groups respond. Of course poor English does not always tell you which language is native so if you get a lot of responses like this ask in your survey which languages are preferred by your users. Mark

Duane Nickull Chief Marketing Officer, Co-Founder at Cheddar Labs

February 26th, 2014

THere are only two things you need to know:

1. The customer is always right.
2. They must be punished for their arrogance!


OK, seriously, alway think about what you would want.  If someone is unhappy, acknowledge it.  Sometimes that is all people want.  As for the requests that are hard to understand, there is little you can do.  Respond the best you can. 

Always be polite
Always make the person feel they are heard
You may not be able to fix everything, be honest in the replies.  Don't over promise.



March 2nd, 2014

Good points from Mark and Duane.

My 2 cents:

- people who obviously speak another language and whose writing does not make sense

Not your fault if they didn't communicate intelligibly. I would go with stock "thank you for reaching out!" response. If it comes to it, it is entirely fair to say "I couldn't understand that last paragraph."


- Requests that are kind but have nothing to do with the product

Embrace them internally if they are useful. Acknowledge the effort put forward by the sender. try to engage if you see a path forward.


- Responses to people who make inquiries that really sound horrible 

I'm not sure you what you mean, but there's no reason to take people's poor attitude. If someone crosses the line you have a duty to separate yourself and your organization from them.


- other things that may come up

Be polite, be engaging. Acknowledge people and be appreciative of their time and efforts. They took the time out of their day to give you something for free (ideas, feedback.) They may be happy to give you more of that if you ask for further details. Bottom line: people who engage you want to know that their efforts are well received, so as long as they are coherent and respectful, show them appreciation and don't be afraid to engage them in the ways that make sense to you (ask for further feedback, invite them to buy a product, etc.)

On the customer support end, if they are complaining about the product do your best to hear them out and satisfy them, but also be aware that some people cannot be satisfied.