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How To Respond To An Angry Customer Email (With Sample)


Dealing with angry customer emails can be tough. Here are some tactics to make it better.

Anyone can write, of course, they can. However, crafting exceptional copy can be difficult – especially if you're aiming to take your customer service strategy to the next level. 

So, you’re a business owner managing a customer support team and, despite your best efforts, your customer feedback isn’t as great as it should be, it’s worth taking a microscope to your written content.

This is a challenge for most of us, so it's often a much-overlooked area.

But that isn't to say it's impossible… 

So, in this article, we're breaking down how to write exceptional email content to improve your customer experience.

There's lots to cover, so let's jump to it. 

Customer Behavior

Why's email copy so important?

In short, here’s what happens when customers aren’t happy with the correspondence they receive. They go and tell their friends and family, either by word-of-mouth or, worse, on social media or via a stocking Google review. 

In fact, it's estimated that disgruntled customers tell between nine and 15 people about their bad experience, with almost 13% of them telling more than 20 people!

This type of customer behavior hurts both your brand's reputation and its bottom line. 

With that in mind, let’s see how the written word's power can help to undo some of that damage.

How To Deal with Angry Customer Emails

When someone writes to your organization, it’s because they're sufficiently displeased with your brand to sit at their keyboard and express their anger. That’s why it’s imperative to respond to every single angry email customers write to you. 

Of course, in the first instance, you can respond with a standard automated reply telling them when they'll receive an in-person email response. This is also an excellent opportunity to thank them for writing in. 

Once you’re past that post, here are a few top tips you and your customer care team can adopt as you respond to angry emails in an attempt to boost customer satisfaction.

1. Read The Email First

This may seem obvious, but unless you address every point the customer makes, you’re only prolonging the correspondence and further irritating them. 

It’s easy to overlook something the customer says, particularly if the email’s pretty emotive or raises several points. So, try to summarise what they’re complaining about in a separate text document. You could even bullet point each issue to ensure you answer every aspect of their message. 

So, above all else, make sure you thoroughly read the email and respond to every aspect of the message. 

2. Thank Them For Writing

Yes, you've already done this in your automated message – but it doesn't hurt to do it again. So, always say thank you at the start of your email. It’s imperative you acknowledge their complaint and show you care about their grievance.  

For instance, if a customer has written to complain, you could start with something along the lines of:

‘Thank you for contacting [insert company name] and letting us know about your experiences with our [insert name of the product/situation]. We appreciate you contacting us to let us know. We value customer feedback so that we can work to provide you with gold-plated customer service.’ 

3. Use Their Name

If you're not already, it's time to take a personalized approach. At the very least, you should always address the customer by their name. Look at how they sign off their complaint and reflect that back. 

These days, ‘Dear Sir/Madam' just doesn't cut the biscuit. It shows insufficient attention to detail. Consumers crave a personalized experience; they want to be treated as individuals, not as another cog in a gigantic wheel.

4. Acknowledge Their Problem

If your customer has taken the time to bring an issue to your attention, it’s polite and good practice to acknowledge that. So, in your response, reflect back on what they’ve told you. 

For example, you could write something like this:

‘I can see that you’re frustrated [insert a suitable empathic summary of the customer’s feelings] about your experiences with our product/customer service. We can see how, on this occasion, we didn’t reach our normally high standards of delivery.

5. Provide A Solution

Always focus on solving the customer’s problem. No one wants to hear a bunch of excuses. That just sounds unprofessional and gives the impression that you don’t care. Instead, find a solution and clearly explain to your customer what the resolution is. 

A good customer service team should have protocols in place for finding solutions to customer complaints. For example, if they’re upset about a product’s quality or performance, you need to refer them to your returns and replacements policy. 

On some occasions, it may be necessary to escalate a complaint if it’s not within your power to resolve. In which case, again, follow the protocol your company has to handle the specific issue so that it complements your current chain of command. 

6. Grammar And Spelling

There’s nothing worse than grammatical howlers and spelling errors. Re-read your response and run it through a spelling and grammar checker. If in doubt, ask a colleague to double-check it for you. 

Some reputable online spell checkers include Grammarly, Reverso, and Language Tool. It may be that your organization has a subscription with such software, so it’s worth finding out if that’s the case. 

7. Your Language and Tone

Use clear language and show empathy. Corporate-speak won't win you any favors- neither will hiding behind technical terminology. If you have to tell your customer something complicated, do so using plain English. Always remember your audience and its potential reading level. Don’t write like you’re talking to a friend or colleague; remember, your audience doesn’t know your organization's internal workings or technical aspects. 

Interestingly, 65% of online shoppers prefer casual over a formal tone in their customer service interactions. That said, if the customer isn’t happy with your response or solution, 78% said that an overly casual style would elicit an adverse reaction from them. 

Why? Because it sounds like you're not taking their problem seriously.  

Also, consider the words you use. For example, remove any uses of the “but” from your responses. By eliminating negative terms like this, you’ll exude more of a positive tone, which works wonders for altering perception. 

For example:

“Thank you for contacting us, but we don’t provide that service.”


“Thank you for contacting us. Unfortunately, we're unable to provide that service. We do, however, provide the following….”

See the difference?

Through practice and experience, you’ll be better positioned to sense your customer’s tone. For example, if the customer’s frustration radiates through their message, show empathy by offering reassurance and the right level of apology. If their email demonstrates that English may not be their first language, be sensitive to that, and avoid slang. 

Putting it All Together: A Sample Email Reply To a Customer Complaint

You may already have a series of customer service email templates you and your team use to handle various customer complaints. However, it’s always worth doing a little housekeeping to ensure they reflect your commitment to great customer service.

This is especially true if your customer service software comes with a set of templates already in existence. Don't make the mistake of just using these as they are. Instead, personalize them to engage with the recipient better. 

Remember your audience – they'll know or sense when they're being fobbed off with standard text that took no thought for the customer service rep to copy, paste, and send.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a summary version of some of the examples above to illustrate how to respond to an upset customer:

Dear [insert customer name],

Thank you for contacting us. I'm very sorry to hear you experienced poor customer service from the [insert your brand name] team.  

It’s important to us that our customers are happy, so we're sorry we could not provide our usual high service standards to you.

Possible paragraph:

Having investigated your complaint about [insert a summary of the complaint]. I'm happy to tell you; we can offer you the following solution [insert an explanation of the answer]. 

Alternative paragraph:

We're currently investigating your complaint about [insert a summary of the complaint]. Because your complaint involves several departments/strands/suppliers, it will take us a couple of days to get to the bottom of why, on this occasion, you received less than a gold standard of service from us. Thank you for your patience while we investigate this matter. I'll get in contact with you in two days to update you on our progress. 

Once the complaint is resolved, you could add:

We’d like to prove just how important you are to us by offering you a discount of [x%] on your next purchase.  

Sign off:

Thank you for bringing this negative experience to our attention. Once again, I apologize for any inconvenience caused. 

If there's anything else I can help you with, please feel free to contact me. 

Best wishes,

[Insert name and contact details]

Are You Ready to Improve Your Customer Service Copy?

Hopefully, you’re now fully prepped to polish your customer support email copy, so even the most unhappy customers walk away happy. Exceptional copywriting isn’t rocket science; it's a skill you can certainly nurture over time, so keep practicing, and you're sure to wow your customers! 

Trust us, for nurturing your customer relationships and boosting customer retention rates alone; it’s worth sticking with! It’s one of the easiest ways to provide shoppers a positive experience with your brand – and you don’t need us to tell you that happy customers = higher profits.

Let us know how you get along in the comments box below, and send across some positive examples of your exceptional copy. We'd love to hear from you!

Special thanks to our friends at Gorgias for their insights on this topic.
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