We're Enchant and we help companies have better conversations with their customers. Mostly we do this through awesome customer communication software. But today, we're sharing some awesome email templates!

Every company deals with angry customers sometimes. No matter how careful you and your team are, it happens.

What matters is learning how to effectively respond to angry customers. The way you handle customer complaints makes all the difference to your reputation, and whether you can win that customer back. Deloitte found that 32% of dissatisfied customers tell their friends and family. But 42% of satisfied customers spread the word. If you can turn a negative situation around, not only do you increase the chances of keeping the customer, but also the chances of them telling people how satisfied they were with how you handled it.

Customers feel more positively about a business that solves a problem, than they do if there hadn’t been a problem in the first place.

This is what we call the service recovery paradox: Customers feel more positively about a business that solves a problem, than they do if there hadn't been a problem in the first place. Yes, an issue can send your customer to a competitor. But if you handle the situation successfully, you can actually increase customer loyalty.

Which goes to show that problems present you with a brilliant opportunity to boost your reputation with a customer.

Be glad when a customer tells you what went wrong. If you’re unlucky, unhappy customers will go away and complain to their friends and family. You won’t see them again. But if they tell you, you have a chance to make things right.

How to Effectively Respond to Angry Customers

First, let’s look at how not to respond.

You definitely don’t want your team getting defensive. If Anthony emails to say his order is late, “we’ve a backlog in our warehouse so you’ll have to wait a few more days” is not the correct response. Getting defensive is a quick highway to an even unhappier customer.

Likewise, ban non-apologies from your team vocabulary. “I’m sorry if you feel let down” is not an apology. It’s putting the responsibility on the customer. Anthony wants to know what your team is going to do to fix his issue.

A real apology is genuine, and speaks specifically to the situation.

A meaningful apology is one that communicates three R's: regret, responsibility, and remedy.
Beverly Engel, The Power of Apology

With 17% of US customers saying they’ll walk away after just one bad experience, it’s important to get this right. Effective customer replies should:

  • Show Regret and Empathy:Your response should demonstrate a genuine interest in helping.No assigning blame. No getting defensive or argumentative. Showing a sincere effort in solving the problem makes the customer feel that you’re on their side. When you let the customer know you truly understand their frustration, they feel seen instead of dismissed.
  • Take Responsibility: Right now, you’re representing your company. Let the customer know you’re taking responsibility for solving the issue, and always resist the urge to blame them, or pass the buck. If you do have to hand over the responsibility to another team, let the customer know who you’re passing their complaint to, and why.
  • Explain Why it Happened: Something has happened, that in the customer’s eyes shouldn’t have happened. So take the time to explain why it did. Whether there was a supply chain snafu, a shipping mistake, or a software bug, let them know what went wrong.
  • List actions for problem resolution:Your customer wants to know what you’re going to do to resolve their issue. So tell them, and be specific about it. Tell them what you’re going to do as soon as you sign off the email.
  • Provide Guidance to the customer about what they need to do next. Your priority should always be making resolution as easy as possible. But sometimes they’ll need to take a step too, such as updating some information in their account. Make your instructions clear and easy to follow.
  • Set Expectations and Follow up. Tell your customer when they can expect to hear from you again or how long the resolution will take. Encourage the customer to get in touch again if they need further help. Make it a practice to reach out a few days after the problem was resolved to make sure the customer is happy with the resolution.

Pro Tip: Add olive branches to your actions. Make sure your team knows when they’re allowed to offer a sweetener such as a discount, a free replacement, or an extra item.

Remember to always keep your responses timely, respectful, humble, responsible, and action-focused.

9 Email Response Templates For Unhappy Customers

Did you know that only 26% of support leaders feel they have the tools and resources they need? Email response templates for unhappy customers are a fantastic resource that makes it far easier to effectively respond to angry customers. Your team never has to scramble to come up with an answer. This saves time and effort, and it also keeps responses respectful, non-confrontational, and on brand.

Only 26% of customer support agents feel they have the tools and resources they need to succeed.

Here are some customer email templates you can use for those sticky situations. Simply fill in the [placeholder information] with whatever fits your specific situation.

1. Delayed or no response to customer emails or calls

Have you ever been stuck on hold, or waiting for an email that never comes? Customers hate wasting their time and still not getting an answer. You can’t grab a time machine, go back, and fix their wait time. But you can explain the delay, apologize, and make their issue a priority.

Hi [First name],

I’m sorry that you experienced delays when trying to reach our customer support team. We aim to answer all queries quickly but in this instance, we failed you. [Problem incident that occurred] is not acceptable and should not have happened.

I’ve looked into it and I can see that this happened because [reason]. I’ve marked your issue as high priority and you should receive a response within the [reasonable time frame].

Thank you for the opportunity to review our customer response times. We’re committed to doing better in the future, starting by [specific action.] As an apology for the inconvenience caused, I’d like to offer you [sweetener / discount.]

Apologies again,
[your signature]

2. The customer is getting conflicting information

We’ve all been there. You contact customer support with a problem. They tell you what to do. But it doesn’t work, so you get back in touch, and the next rep tells you something different. If this happens to one of your customers, your team needs to take responsibility, and clear the confusion.

Hi [First name],

I’m sorry to hear you received conflicting information from our customer service team. I can see how confusing and frustrating that must be. We aim to make sure all our agents have the most up to date information to help them respond to issues like yours. We regret that in this instance, we failed to do so.

I’ve looked into this, and [insert correct information.]

You can also find [additional information] here: [link]

I’ve passed this issue on to our head of customer experience so we can explore the cause of this breakdown and ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.

Once again, I apologize for the miscommunication on our part. Thank you for taking the time to let us know,
[your signature]

3. Customer complains about a service representative

A complaint about a specific service agent is serious. Let the customer know that you’ve looked into the issue and discussed it with the staff member involved.

Hi [First name],

I’m sorry to hear you had a negative experience with our customer support team. We are committed to providing high quality service, and in this instance we missed the mark, for which I apologize.

I’ve spoken to [the team member involved] and reviewed the [call or email transcript.] I can see where [team member] [didn’t understand / didn’t explain clearly / another issue that happened.] I will [offer further training or other appropriate reparative action].

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to do better in the future. Once again, I’m sorry for your poor experience. Please get in touch again if you have further questions or concerns.
[your signature]

4. Problem with the sales process

Sometimes the sales process goes awry. A customer might misunderstand shipping fees, or try to get an offer that’s already expired. They might feel they were misinformed by a team member. Even in situations where the misunderstanding was on the customer’s end, don’t lay blame at their feet. Instead, explain what you’re going to do to resolve the situation.

Hi [First name],

I’m sorry to hear you had trouble with your order. I know it must be frustrating that [specific thing that went wrong.]

We always strive to deliver our products quickly and to fulfill customer expectations. I’m sorry that on this occasion we failed to do that.

I’ve looked into it and I can see this problem was caused by [thing that caused the issue.] In this instance, the best way to resolve the issue is to [what you’re going to do to resolve it.]

We will also use this opportunity to [ take corrective measures] so that [our shipping fees or whatever caused confusion] is layed out more clearly on our website and checkout pages.

As an apology I would like to offer you [code, discount, or other sweetener].

Again, I’m sorry this happened,
[your signature]

5. Customer isn’t happy with their purchase

Maybe the item is defective in some way. Or maybe the customer had different expectations, such as a feature that wasn’t advertised (it happens). Whatever the cause, acknowledge their frustration and let them know what you’re going to do to remedy the situation.

Hi [First name],

I’m sorry to hear that your [item they ordered] is [defective / not what you expected.] Delivering the high quality items our customers expect is important to us. I apologize that in this case we fell short.

I’ve looked into this and discovered that [reason item was incorrect or fell short.]

I understand how disappointing this must be. To remedy the situation, I am going to [send you a replacement / refund / other appropriate action.]

[There’s no need to return the defective item to us / you can return the defective item using the free shipping label which you can download here.]

Please accept my apologies for this inconvenience,
[your signature]

6. Wrong item or incomplete order received

No one wants to open a parcel to find missing or wrong items! Take the time to show empathy with the customer’s disappointment. Let them know what you’re doing to fix the problem, and when they can expect their replacement items.

Hi [First name],

I’m sorry that your order [was incomplete / contained wrong or missing items.] Delivering high quality products is important to us, but I can see that in this case we failed to live up to that promise.

I can understand how frustrating this must be. I’ve looked into your order and I can see that this was caused by [reason.]

This should not have happened. I have dispatched a replacement [item] today, and it should be delivered by [date.] You can track your order here: [link]

As an additional apology, [details of free item, money off coupon, or other apology].

Thank you for your understanding. Please let me know if I can help further.
[your signature]

7. Delayed or missing delivery

No matter how careful you are, deliveries sometimes get delayed, or go astray altogether. Waiting for an item that doesn’t arrive when it should is frustrating. Let the customer know what went wrong, and what you’re doing to get their order to them. Offer tracking details if you can.

Hi [First name],

I’m so sorry to hear that you are still waiting for your order. We always aim to deliver orders in a timely manner, and in this case we have failed to do that.

I understand how frustrating this must be for you. I’ve looked into it, and I can see that due to [reason] some of our deliveries are taking longer than they should.

I’ve tracked your package with [carrier] and I see that the status is currently listed as [status.] If you would like to track the progress you can use this link: [link]

Please get in touch if your package has not arrived by [date.] You can reply to this email, or you can call me directly at [number.]

As a thank you for your patience, here is a [discount code or other offer] you can use with your next order.

Once again, my sincere apologies for this delay.
[your signature]

8. Customer wants an exception

Customers don’t always read the terms and conditions. If you have a 30 day refund policy, or you only offer refunds on specific items, you can bet at some point a customer will want you to make an exception for them. Even if you can’t make an exception, you can handle the communication in a kind and understanding way.

Hi [First name],

I’m sorry to hear you were [unhappy with an item that is not returnable / were not able to meet the return deadline].

I understand that this must be frustrating. Unfortunately, our company policy is that [policy.] You can read more about this on our website: [link]

While I am not able to [accept a return / offer a refund], I can offer you [a gift card, partial credit, a complementary item] as an apology for the inconvenience this has caused you.

Please let me know if I can help further.
[your signature]

9. Customer left a negative review

No matter how committed you are to customer service, you’ll probably receive a negative customer feedback at some point. Even majestic national parks get bad reviews sometimes. You can’t prevent negative ratings, but you can control how you respond to them.

Photo Credit: AtlasObscura.com

Because reviews are public, the way you respond shows people who you are as a company. In fact, 79% of customers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

The best way to respond to a negative review is the same as for any other complaint: with empathy and responsibility. But unlike email complaints, it’s better to keep responses as short as possible and take the discussion elsewhere. A review is not the place for a long exchange with the customer.

Hi [name],

I’m sorry to hear your [product / service / experience of our company] fell short. We value our customers and would like to make this right if we can. Please DM me or call us at [number] and ask to speak to [name] so we can get this resolved for you,

Thank you for your patience,
[your signature]

You can use these templates as-is, or tweak them further to suit your business. You can also identify common customer service scenarios in your company, and use these as a starting point to create your own templates for how to effectively respond to angry customers.

Make sure to store your email response templates for unhappy customers where your support team can easily access and use them. If you have helpdesk software, add them as canned responses.

A complaint isn’t the end of a customer relationship. In fact, 83% of customers are more loyal to brands that resolve their complaints.

83% of customers are more loyal to brands that are able to resolve their complaints successfully

When something goes wrong, customers are looking for someone to take responsibility and make it right. With a carefully worded response, you can show customers that you understand, and you care about solving their issue.

Keep these principles in mind and you can use customer complaints as an opportunity to resolve issues and demonstrate understanding. When you turn a negative experience into a positive one, you build more loyalty because your customers learn they can rely on you when something goes wrong.