Responding to Customer Service emails

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Written By carolina

Over a decade of quilt industry experience in multiple roles.

Even on the best of days, opening up an email from an upset customer can do a 180 on your mood. Maybe you made a mistake. Maybe there is a perceived slight. Or maybe the customer is having a bad day of their own and is taking it out on you. Responding to customer service emails is part of the job as a quilt pattern designer, and there are steps you can take to keep it from derailing your day.

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As you go through the steps below, it can help to know that love and hate are not opposites. The opposite of love is indifference. Your angry customer is passionate enough to reach out to you to let you know. That is a good thing! Now you have an opportunity to respond to their passion in a way that may make them a lifelong customer.

Take a breath

If you’ve been sent an angry email from a customer, firing an email back right away is generally the worst option. If you respond to their angry words with angry words of your own, the situation will simply escalate. As entertaining as the drama may be, it is almost never lucrative. Instead of responding immediately, take a breath. If you need to, walk away from the computer (or set down your phone). Drink a glass of water, go for a walk around the block, or pull out some chocolate from the emergency stash. (You do have an emergency stash, right?) They won’t know you’ve read their email, and it is usually okay to wait at least a few hours before responding.

Consider their view

Think like your customer for a moment. Do they have a point? Did they find a genuine error? Looking at the situation from their side gives you an empathetic perspective which will make drafting an appropriate response much easier. If you can’t find a way to understand their argument, try thinking of them specifically. While you may not know them, what they look like, or even their real name, imagining these things about them makes them a human in your mind.

Rather than being fancynancy1964, imagine a woman named Nancy. Maybe she was born in 1964. Maybe that’s the year she was married. She’s writing to you from her yellow sofa in the front room, using her iPad that is still sticky from the grandkids using it when they came for a visit. She’s had a long day. She only has an hour for quilting before she needs to get supper started. Your pattern is the third quilt she’s ever made, and the first one without help. She’s run into a problem, and now she’s reaching out to you.

Now, rather than simply typing words on a screen, you can respond to your new quilting friend Nancy. She bought your pattern, so clearly she has great taste. Let’s help her be successful in completing this quilt!

Identify the problem

Customer service emails are about solving the customer’s problem. Which means the first step is to identify the problem. Is there a mistake in the pattern? Do they not understand the way the instructions were written? Is the pattern beyond their skill level? Do they just want to be heard? If you can identify the root of the problem, you’ll be able to solve for the real issue.

Draft your email

I use the same general format when responding to customers:

  • Start with a greeting
  • Restate the problem
  • Validate the problem
  • Provide any possible solutions
  • Thank the customer
  • Sign off

Here is what that might look like in an email to Nancy:

Hi Nancy!
Thanks so much for taking the time to reach out! It sounds like you're having a problem fitting the blocks together on the giant HST quilt. I'm so sorry - I know how frustrating that can be! It sounds like you might have skipped step 7, which tells you to square up the blocks to 12 1/2". If you square up the blocks first, they'll stitch together much more easily.
Hopefully that helps!
Love and Quilts,


Before you send out the email, proofread what you’ve written. Check for typos as well as tone. When writing customer service emails, it is easy to allow the tone from our day to show up in the language we use. If you want to make your email sound friendlier, you can add more details and a few exclamation points. More words as well as excited punctuation come across as friendlier in text.

Rather than:

You're having a problem fitting the blocks together on the giant HST quilt. You missed step 7.

Try adding more words, exclamation points, and less direct language:

Hi Nancy!
Thanks so much for taking the time to reach out! I'm so sorry you're having trouble with the giant HST quilt! That is one of my favorites, and I'm so glad you picked it! I know how frustrating it can be when blocks don't come together, so let's get to the bottom of this! Others who have had this issue in the past usually managed to skip step 7. Is that a possibility here? 
Step 7 tells you to square up the blocks to 12 1/2". If you square up the blocks first, they'll stitch together much more easily.
Hopefully that helps!
Love and Quilts,

Asking for more details

If you can’t identify the problem, you can always ask for more details. Sometimes taking a photo of what they’re seeing on their end helps clarify what the real problem is.

When you can not respond to Customer Service emails

Not every email deserves a response. Just as you would have the right to remove them from any physical store you were running, you can kick them out of your inbox. Any email that is intentionally rude or condescending, has negative comments about my kiddo, or is clearly designed to be hurtful rather than productive, can go directly into the garbage. Don’t allow someone who lives hundreds of miles away and got out on the wrong side of their bed this morning get in the way of you enjoying your day. After all, you’re not responsible for their happiness, but you are responsible for your own happiness.

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