The best “tone” for email customer support

The best “tone” for email customer support

Andrej Csizmadia

Andrej Csizmadia

Last modified on January 7, 2022 at 2:28 pm

When you write emails, do not forget that a receiver doesn’t see you. It’s important to sound like a human being, not a robot using canned messages.
You as well as customer support agents have to rely on punctuation and word choice to convey the appropriate attitude. However, using the wrong tone at the wrong time can be mind-bending.

So how can you know when to use a casual, formal, serious or friendly tone?
Check out the following results of Software Advice‘ Survey:

Do consumers generally like customer support agents to use more casual or formal language when corresponding over email?

casual vs formal email tone graph

65 percent of respondents said they preferred a casual tone, with 35 percent saying they preferred a formal tone in email support correspondence.
The distribution was consistent across all age and gender demographics. Most customers (regardless of age or gender) would like support agents to use natural, friendly language when answering online tickets.

Do tonal preferences vary in different email support situations?

Respondents were asked to express their satisfaction with casual or formal tone in these situations:

Situation 1: A customer support agent uses an overly casual tone (e.g., slang or emoticons) while denying you a request over email.

Situation 2: A customer support agent uses an overly formal tone (e.g., “Sir” or “Madam”) while granting you a request over email.

denying or granting request with email tone graph

Vast majority (78 percent) said agents’ using a casual tone when denying a request would have at least some negative impact on their customer satisfaction. Conversely, only 35 percent said they would be bothered if a support agent used an overly formal tone when granting a request.
This divergence indicates that customers who are in a frustrating situation are likely to be a lot more sensible to tone, especially compared to customers who are getting what they require.

Is using emoticons and colloquialisms inappropriate?

Users were asked to identify which of the following elements they would consider inappropriately casual in an email from a customer service agent:

using emoticons, colloquial words, exclamation points in email-graph

Nearly half didn’t think any of the listed options were inherently too casual. This indicates that many people aren’t opposed to even extremely informal elements. 35 percent of respondents did find the use of emoticons, such as smiley faces, to be too informal for email customer support, and 26 percent said the same about colloquial words such as “ cool” or “awesome.” Agents should, therefore, be particularly careful about using these elements, especially in sensitive situations.


When it comes to emails you don’t have the tone of your voice, so receivers on the other side of the screen will read tone into your email based on the efforts you make, the words you choose to use and the formatting you integrate.
Most people generally prefer a casual tone, agents may use informal, pleasant language when answering tickets. However, in more stressful circumstances, agents should be conscious of how the customer may be feeling, and consider adopting more formal, reserved tone in order to avoid sounding unconcerned or disrespectful. Knowing what kind of language to use requires a skill that representative improve over years of experience.

Remember that the tone of your voice often conveys more accurately what is in your mind than do your words.

Napoleon Hill

Survey source: Software Advice, an online firm that reviews Help Desk software, published this new study based on responses from more than 2,000 consumers.

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