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Working in a mobile app development company has given me the unique opportunity to work with thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs. Many of them have shared stories of investing large amounts of time and money to make their app the best it can be.

  • How To Ask Your Customers For A Review, The Right Way. When asking customers for a review via email, it’s important to think from their perspective. After all, they’ve already got what they want from you, be that a product or service, and may need a little encouragement to take the time to leave feedback.
  • Often, your customers will come to you asking if you carry the proverbial quarter-inch drill bit when what they really need is a quarter-inch hole. It’s the principle behind the jobs-to-be-done framework: When a customer asks whether you have a specific solution, take some extra time collect insights and ask what they’re ultimately trying.

I’ve even worked with people who built an app for their church.

Everything from strategically placing the most relevant widgets, beautifully crafted layout designs, and engaging educational content. Yet despite the countless hours and expert attention to detail, many businesses are still not receiving the type of adoption they were hoping for. Instead of thousands of people flooding the app store to download the app, they receive about a dozen.
The initial impression is to assume that maybe the content is not as great as it should have been. Doubt begins to crawl its way in and suddenly we are wondering if maybe creating an app was a wrong move from the start. As compelling as your inner doubts can be, we believe otherwise.

Creating an app opens a whole new channel by which you can interact with your current and potential customers. A haven in which your dedicated audience always has access to you in one simple click. Your app is a space wholly customizable to their needs. The problem in most instances is not the app itself, instead, it is the crucial step so often missed after the app is created, promotion.

Your app has had a lot of time and though sewed into it, the last thing you want to do as a business owner and as a creator is throw it all away by not promoting your app. Imagine a new restaurant opening down the street in your neighborhood. The restaurant opens up its doors bright and early without telling a soul. All it has done to promote itself is place a sign outside its door saying “Come on in!”. On the inside, the restaurant has friendly staff, top of the line cooking equipment, and the most mouthwatering croissants you have ever tasted.

The day passes by and the owner is confused. His restaurant should have been a smashing success. He conducted extensive research to give his customers the greatest experience possible, yet no one was coming in. The day dragged on and by the time of closing, the restaurant had only served around 20 customers. The owner is at home enjoying a hot cup of coffee looking over his business plan, still trying to figure out what was missing.

To anyone reading this, it may already seem obvious that the business owner could have definitely take a better approach to marketing his restaurant. Posters should have been placed all over the city, a large opening ceremony followed by a press release, and a dedicated social media campaign to let everyone know of his grand opening. Yet as silly as it may seem to read this example, this is exactly the type of mistakes I see many business owners make.

All of their resources are focused on creating exceptional products. Which inherently is never a bad thing, products should be as value driven and high-quality as possible. The problem is that the value of those products are not promoted as effectively as they should be. So all that hard work is never given the proper attention it deserves.

A general rule of thumb is to spend about as much time promoting your product as you do creating them. If you spent two days writing a blog post, then spend the next two days distributing your blog post in as many outlets as possible.

The more you promote your content, the easier and faster the process becomes. We know small businesses do not have a large budget to dedicate to marketing or promotional events. Even those that do have the money may find themselves only having a few channels to promote their content.

We have gathered 28 tried and proven methods to guide you on how to market your app effectively. These steps will only cost you time and we are confident that if you follow them, you will have a significant increase in a number of followers and downloads then you have now.

Lets get to it then.

1. Get in Touch

Mobile app marketing starts long before you ever bring it to market. Before you start telling your development team to start building out your app with a million different things, reach out to your customers and talk to them. After all, you want to make sure that whatever you are building, is going to be just right for them

You can begin to reach out to your customers by first creating list of every single person you have ever sold to and even those who have only signed up to your newsletter. Send them an email and ask them for 5 or 10 minutes of their time.

Your customers are busy people so try to give your customers something in return for helping you. Incentivize your customers by offering them a special discount, or some form of educational content. After you have their attention, ask them a few questions to get an idea of what they might be searching for in an app.

You want to understand the expectations your current and potential customers have with your app. In going through this process you will begin to uncover gaps you may have never seen before and you will have successfully build a bridge between yourself and your customers. By including your customers in the app creation process not only are you subtly promoting your app, but you are making sure that the app you make fits the people you are catering to.

Your customer is the backbone of your business, so keep them engaged through every process of the app’s development. The following is a quote from Bain and Co. to further illustrate our message:

…a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%.

Retain your customers by letting them know about your app’s idea and ask them what they would really like to see in it. How can you make the app more savvy and beneficial for them? Remember, your customer has their own audience and if you’re able to convince them, you’ll be hitting all the right notes to bolster your success and staying power.

2. Reach Out To Influencers

Marketing your app can also extend beyond your usual field of influence and often times, these foreign connections are exactly what your company needs. Developing honest, authentic, and mutually beneficial relationships with influencers will go a long way in helping to promote your app.

Influencers are individuals with the power to influence the buying and engagement decisions of a certain group of people. Business owners reaching out influencers or bloggers should be careful to only present content that is truly relevant for the influencers and their target audience. While some marketers often offer monetary compensation in exchange for influencer promotion, we recommend you instead find influencers that truly value your company.

Your viewers and theirs as well will quickly catch on that the influencer is being paid to act on your behalf. The last thing you want is viewers feeling that you are “faking” how great your business is. Genuine sponsorships will aid your company much more and build a stronger following.

Let influencers know you are building or have built an app. Ask if you can get some time with them to discuss the apps development or to gather some feedback. If you really want to have them on board, give them their own section within the app or work towards building an app that caters to both your needs. If you decide to go with either of those choices, make sure your values, interest, and customers align.

3. Leverage Your Mobile Website

If you have an existing website that is fully functional and mobile-friendly, then your site can be one of the greatest assets to promoting your app. At one point or another, all of your customers or anyone interested in your company will find their way to your website. When they do, it is important they all know you have an app.

Including your app in your site could mean sectioning off a part of your site exclusively for the app. Such as the corner of the screen or towards the middle of the web page. While this method can bring in more downloads we recommend taking an alternate approach. Instead of placing it solely on your site, have a pop-up page display whenever someone visits your site.

This way, the app is the first thing your viewers see. The pop-up page is simply a gentle reminder that you have an app and your customers are given either the option to download the app or continue to your mobile site.

4. Feature the App in an Official Blog

In addition to including your app on your website, including it in your regularly scheduled blog post is one of the best mobile app promotion strategies you can leverage. You may do so by creating a complete blog post solely about your app or including a call to action at the end of every blog post to invite your viewers to download the app.

When writing the blog post solely about the app, write a complete story about your app and let your target audience know the purpose behind it. Tell them how this app can facilitate and make things easy for them. Include your app links, screenshots and videos to help them get a good understanding.

As mentioned previously in the influencer section of this guide, you can also get bloggers on other websites to build hype for your blog.

5. Feature The App in Your Emails

Your new app needs to be engraved into every aspect of your marketing, that includes all of your emails. As a business, you will send out countless emails and not including your app in each of those is a missed opportunity.

Any email that is sent out, whether it be from your tech support, your newsletter or even the payment confirmation email should include a footer with one line advertising your app. Include details such as what can be accomplished through the app and a link redirecting towards the download page.

Emails still have their charm provided they’re used under the right circumstances. According to a study by Exact Target, “91% people check their email daily”. Capitalize by incorporating your app links into newsletters, customer service emails and also make it a habit to use it in email signatures.

For more stats on email marketing, check out this piece.

Example Template:

  • Our new app, (Insert app name here), helps you (insert what the app does). Click here (include hyperlink) to check it out!

6. Create a Demo Video

Videos are an easy way for you to showcase everything your beautiful and well-built app has to offer. For your demo video, create a simple 30 second commercial with the principles of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle: Why, How, and What.

Assign a team to work on bringing this video together. The collective minds of more than one individual will help you to finish projects faster and with fewer errors. Keep in mind that your demo video is not meant to stay the way it is now. Your videos, along with all your content, should be updated weekly or monthly.

Once you are finishing creating your demo video, be sure to leverage your social media channels and other platforms to promote your app. Your demo video can be included in your blog post, Instagram, and Youtube channels.

We have included a link to Feicobol’s app demo video we think you would enjoy. May it inspire you to create exceptional demo videos for your customers:

7. Consider Alternative App Stores

Do not rely only on Google Play & App Store; there are various other app stores on the online market where you can upload your app. According to One Platform Foundation, if an app is submitted on other relatively less popular stores, it will increase the expected downloads 200% more compared to Google Play.

These are some very good app stores that you should consider, and they’re growing in the mobile app market.

For more information, read this useful guide here. Remember, the app market is bigger than those two popular stores.

8. Apply for Awards

Participating in app awards is the most recommended channel and I would highly suggest you take advantage of it. It can give you tons of press, exposure, reviews and plenty of downloads. Although the chances of winning very much depend on your pitch and app idea, however, if you manage to get things right the first time, you can expect to enjoy a little stardom.

These are some of the most famous app awards sites:

9. SEO Matters Here

Yes, I’m talking about SEO not ASO… what happens is your app URL shows up in search results when users key-in related queries; for example when they look up music apps, you want your app to start popping up among the first 5 entries or so, before users hit Enter.

All you need to do is identify “best-targeted” and most relevant keywords that you want to rank for. Also analyze which keywords your app is currently ranking on, build some quality links accordingly to boost rankings.

For this purpose, try these two awesome tools.

10. Reach Out Like Mr. Fantastic

Don’t rely on App Stores alone. Explore Google’s search engine and believe me it can do wonders for your app.

Let’s say your app is related to music; Google the term “best music android apps” and see what results you get.

Out of these 5 top results, at least 4 of them are high authority blogs that can be contacted toyou’re your app featured. If you get this shot, you can kill more than a few birds with one stone. Getting your app featured offers long-term benefits such as:

  • Exposure
  • Targeted Traffic
  • Powerful Link-building
  • Rating & Reviews
Who Do You Want Your Customers To Become PDF Free Download

11. Join Developers & Entrepreneurs Groups on Social Media

Increase your visibility on social media groups & communities, especially Linkedin, Google+ and Facebook, to become better known among entrepreneurs & app developers go.

Ask for their feedback on your app and give them free promo codes to try it out. Discuss current features, bug fixes, future updates and value their opinion. You can build great relationships with them which might present the opportunity to cross promote each other’s apps without spending a cent.

12. Create An Eye Catching App Icon

With over 1.6 million apps in the Google Play Store and 1.5 million in the App Store, there’s a lot of noise in any category you choose you have your app in. Due to that noise, many people choose to take interest in apps, only when the app icon entices them.

To make your app icon stand out, it should:

  1. Have a unique shape that stands out
  2. Have a limited pallet of colors – 2 is enough to create contrast
  3. Avoid using a photo – it blends in too much!
  4. Avoid a lot of text, it’s barely readable anyways
  5. Be creative!

Testing your app icon out on a dozen different wallpapers also doesn’t hurt.

Here are some great examples of great app icons

You’ll notice Squarewallet really stands out by using a simple design but a great use of color to almost make it look like a hologram.

In this image you can see how some top apps make use of a simple pallet of colors to make their icons stand out and build a recognizable brand.

Finally, some of the most popular mobile apps with a great take on the idea of leveraging a logo icon over text.

13. Take GREAT Screenshots

Just taking a screenshot of your app and dropping it in the app store, while simple, does a really poor job of getting across what you’re trying to show that potential user.

Adding captions and adding more visual elements to your screenshots is the best way to turn a boring task management app, into a high download winner.

Take Vine for example:

Vine’s app page is able to put you in a scenario where just by looking at the screenshots, you can fully understand the features offered within that app. It makes it a simple choice to download or not to download.

14. App Store Optimization

App store optimization (ASO) is, at it’s core, search engine optimization (SEO) for the Google Play and App Store. Just like search engine optimization, app store optimization focuses on keyword relevance, search relevance and the keyword density in your description.

With almost half of iPhone users in the US finding apps through search, your app description is one of the most important things you can focus on in your mobile app marketing efforts.

It’s also really easy to get started with competitor research through platforms like App Annie where you can search something like “healthy recipes for women” and see what apps show up and their ranking.

We wrote an entire article just about how app store optimization and mobile search engine optimization work. In it we run through why it’s important and how to get your app listing optimized.

15. Build A Great App Landing Page

A great landing page is must have for any business, even if you don’t have a mobile app. Having a great landing page is like always having a great business card, just in case you ever need it, it’s good to have with you.

Spendee is a great example of a great mobile app landing page that has all the elements needed for user acquisition and engagement.

Breaking it down, while the page has multiple links out, the two most noticeable links are the App Store and Google Play Store buttons. They’re multiple times larger than the social sharing buttons, great to have for helping visitors to the site share the app, and they stand out just as much as the images to the right of them.

As you scroll down, each panel has a single call to action, which leads directly back to the main call to action – to download the app.

The second last panel even has social proof from news outlets as well as actual users of the apps.

If you’re stuck on building your own app landing page, here’s a great template that has all the elements you’ll need. If you need more to choose from, here’s another 20.

16. Include App Download Links On Your Website

Who Do You Want Your Customers To Become PDF Free Download

Having an app landing page is great, but chances are you have traffic going to your business’s website already. Leverage those existing customers and visitors to get more of them to download your app.

Existing Website Banner

Make a small banner for your website that pops up somewhere non-intrusive. I find HelloBar is a great way to do this:

It’s simple, stays at the top of all your pages and you can just get the most essential information across with a link to your app landing page or directly to the App Store.

Social Media Marketing

Who Do You Want Your Customers To Become PDF Free Download Adobe Reader

If you’re already in the social media promotion game and have a Twitter profile, Facebook page or Linkedin page, make use of that space to promote your app.

A simple banner with the name of your app and where to find it is all you need:

17. Get Featured On Mobile App Review Sites

Getting on an App Review Site means you are going to have to send them a pitch. Meaning you have to convince the website that your app is good enough to be reviewed by them and therefore featured on their site. Many of these app review sites are looking for things such as:

  • Beautiful graphical designs in high quality
  • Original and unique content, mechanics, themes, and art
  • Stable apps with no glitches, crashes, overwhelming loading times or poorly pieced together content

When you reach out, you will most likely have to provide support material for your app. This is usually done in the form of a document containing the following items:

  • A link to your app in the app store
  • A summary paragraph describing your app and what makes your app stand out
  • Screen shots of your app logo, title screen, and in-app content
  • Links to videos of your app from youtube or vimeo
  • A promo code which are keys giving anyone who has them access to download the app for free. If your app is free, you do not need to worry about this.

Getting press and reviews about your app is an easy way to capitalize on another site’s traffic.

If you get featured on The Next Web, you can expect tens of thousands of unique visitors in the first 24 hours to hit your website and your App Store page. If you get reviewed by a popular app blog like AppAdvice, you can expect a similar amount of traffic to flow through to your website and App Store listing.

We’ve compiled a list of 113 of the BEST places for you to submit your app for review and to get press. With a cumulative total of over 11 million Twitter followers, over 6 million Facebook fans and tens of millions of unique visitors per month, features on any of these websites can mean lots and lots of downloads for your app.

Be sure to read the next promotion method below to get your app promotion materials in order!

18. Be Prepared For Press

Most journalists are pressured by deadlines to have new content out and because of that, they don’t have time to spend following up leads or trying to find more information on stories that are sent in.

To make sure you have the best chance of getting your story published, you’ll want to make sure you have everything a journalist will need in your PR kit.

A good mobile app PR kit consists of:

A) An App Summary Guide

Your app summary guide is a walkthrough of what the app is, how it’s used, target audience, the problems it solves and any other information surrounding why the app was created as well as why it matters.

B) Your Press Release

The press release is the main story behind why you’re reaching out for press. It should cover off the problem your app solves, why it’s being released now and any other stats or facts surrounding the benefits of using the app. This is where you make the sale to the journalist to publish the story.

C) Screenshots (App & Lifestyle)

You’ll need both app screenshots (like you would have in your app store listing) as well as lifestyle pictures in your PR kit. Be sure to include lots of screenshots, more than you think reasonable. If you’re sending this PR kit to a few dozen news outlets, you want to ensure they’ll have the option of not choosing images other news outlets have already used.

D) Design Collateral (Icons, Logos, Banners, etc)

Give the news outlet all the icon sizes, logo sizes and other design collateral they’ll need so they can keep your branding in the article clean. The last thing you want is to be featured on TechCrunch with a blurry logo because you only sent them one image size.

Changes to those articles can often take weeks to get through because they’re taken as the lowest of priorities.

E) Videos (Walkthroughs, Intro Video, etc)

A good promo video can do wonders for helping people understand what your app is all about. By seeing it in action, they can make a very conscious decision about their choice to test out your app.

F) Founder Bios & Pictures

Often you’ll see quotes from the founders about their decision to build an app or about their decision on the market they’re after. These types of quotes help set a message about the company behind the app and build a strong brand for the company behind the app.

When you have your press kit and press release ready to go, here’s 20 free press release distribution sites to get you started thanks to Mashable.

19. Promote Your App Through A Promo Video

Having a good promo video is a staple of any mobile app. It’s a quick and easy way for someone to understand the most common use case behind the app and how they could use it too.

Clear for iPhone – Available Now! from Realmac Software on Vimeo.

Clear’s promo video is a great example of how simple it should be to get across just enough information to entice a download. While this video may seem simple compared to other app promo videos, the video generated over 1.2 million views.

The additional benefit of a promo video is that you can take advantage of video SEO.

For example, if people search for “the best list making app” and you’re YouTube video title matches, your video will show up before the rest of the search results.

A great example is if you search “hello” in Google. Despite it returning over 800 million results, the first thing it displays is Adele’s song Hello.

20. Use Your Social Network

Social media, despite the heavy focus by most businesses, is still a very under utilized channel of promotion. Sending the message once is good, but sending it multiple times over a month or two is even better.

The typical Facebook page post reaches 16% of the page’s fan base. Now if you were to take the same message, re-write it 4 or 5 times and send it out once a week for 5 weeks, you’re theoretically reaching 80% of your Facebook page audience.

See how that makes a big difference.

When you launch something like a mobile app, it’s a big achievement for the company and it can mean any number of things for your customers. Make sure they’re getting the message by re-posting the same content but with a different message.

21. Write An Announcement Blog

Announcing your app launch as a company update is a great way to keep your customers informed about a major company change. You can leverage your social network to drive traffic and cite the blog post in your email signature to make sure those you’re in contact with know your have a mobile app.

22. Link To Your App In Your Email Signature

It can often take weeks if not months for all of your existing customers to know that you’ve finally launched a mobile app. But those same customers that don’t know, likely get emails from you weekly or maybe even daily.

Add your app download links or a link to your app landing page to your email signature as a really easy way to drive downloads over time simply by sending the emails you normally send.

If you have a few people in your business, make sure they do the same.

For example, if you had 4 people in your business each sending out an average of 20 emails a day (that’s a really low estimate), that’s 80 people that you’re able to inform per day about your mobile app. That’s 560 a week or over 2,400 a month!

The simplest things can be the most effective in the long run.

23. Promote Your App In-Store

If you run a brick and mortar business, the best way to drive ongoing app downloads is to leverage your foot traffic.

By placing a QR code, or even just a sticker for the Google Play Store and App Store in your window, you’re informing your customers that you have a mobile app. Something they may not know at the time.

Similarly, by having a QR code on your business cards, everyone that get’s a card can have a direct link to download your app in their pocket.

24. Join Linkedin & Facebook Groups

Linkedin is a massive social network with 400 million business professionals and Facebook has over 1 billion users. They represent many markets, many industries and has groups for just about everything you can think of.

Find groups that are made up of people that closely resemble your existing customers or your ideal customers and share the app with them. Explain the benefit of using the app and why they should use the app.

If you find a big group, contact the admin of the group and ask them to partner with you to promote the app. It could be in exchange for money as a paid promotion or it could be a referral partnership where you pay for each download or each new customer.

25. Recruit Customers Locally

Meetups, events and conferences can be a great place to recruit new mobile app users. Simply bring along a stack of business cards with your app download link on them and give them out to everyone you speak to.

Some larger meetups can involve hundreds of people while a decent size conference can attract thousands. Have a brief initial conversation with the people at the event and then hand them the business card. Suggest that they check out the app and get in touch with you to give feedback. It’s a great way to get lots of new users on the app and also get feedback for improvement.

26. Blog Commenting

Take a look at blogs in the space that are relevant to your mobile app. Identify the opportunity to add value by commenting on relevant blogs that makes sense. Be sure to provide valuable insight and also link to your mobile app or to your mobile app’s landing page. Typically this is seen in the internet marketer space but it can also be used in mobile app promotion in order to drive high-quality relevant links and traffic to your mobile app’s landing page or download link.

27. Influencer Sharing

Leveraging the power of influencers can be the best way to drive mass amounts of traffic to your mobile. To do this you simply have to go to a website like buzzsumo.com to find a list of relevant influencers in your mobile app’s space.

You can work with these influencers in two ways.

  • You can do a joint venture, where they get involved in promoting your app for a price or in exchange for something on your end
  • You can simply ask for a share if the mobile app is relevant and adds value to them

You can also automate this slightly, using tools like contentmarketer.io, where you can schedule a bunch of tweets through Buffer to be drip fed over time.

You can also try networks like copromote.com to leverage the influence of others in a share for share manor.

28. Do The Unexpected

In the world of digital, it’s highly unexpected to do anything fully offline and see results. The guys over at Dojo have had amazing success in doing the unexpected and just appealing to people on an offline and one to one medium.

They needed to get an initial base of customers for a localized app fast. They decided to take to the streets with a simple and super effective letter to appeal to the interest and curiosity of people. They handed out 19,000 of these letters and during prime commute hours, hand them out to commuters.

The result was over 3,000 downloads (a ~15% conversion rate) and amazing social media exposure.

Be unexpected and amazing results can come of it.

29. Post On Pinterest

Pinterest is a social network in which users are able to share and discover through pinning images and videos on their own boards and on others’ boards. Users are able to have their own board, search for content to place on their board, and search through the content others have on their board. Pinterest is made to hold on to the best of what you can find on the internet into neatly categorized boards. Having your product on someone’s board means they have chosen to hold on to you and that anyone who views their board will be exposed to you.

Pinterest has released a new feature that allows people to download IOS apps directly from Pinterest known as App Pin. Meaning you can have pictures of your beautiful app and right next to the red “Pin it” button there is a blue “Install” button. More information on how to app pin can be found on Pinterest’s official blog here.

30. Run a Contest

Promoting your app does not always mean having to distribute it yourself across every channel, it can also mean lighting a small spark and letting your customers run towards the finish line. Creating a contest within your app will incentivize your users to download the app and keep it for the remainder of the contest.

Your app can have a live leaderboard so customers are always aware of where they stand in the rankings. Set up your contest so customers have various ways to climb up the ranks either by engaging with your company, sharing the app, or having their friends sign up. Customers should also know when they should tune in for updates.

31. Sincerely Respond To All Your Reviews

If your customers take the time to write out a review, no matter how long, you should take the time to answer back to them. So many companies make the mistake of simply leaving an automated message to all their customer. Not only will this turn away customers but your ranking score will also drop significantly with customers who feel their concerns are not being taken care of.

Regardless of what your customers say, let them know you are trying to resolve the problem by listing out what steps you are taking to solve their issue. Make sure to apologize in your comment if they are not satisfied and offer some way to make the experience better for them. If your customer is satisfied, thank them for their patronage and find some way to repay them for their kindness. After all, they are putting in the effort to help you succeed

32. Integrate Social share Within The App

Take app promotion one step deeper by having your own app promote itself. Your customers will make endless discoveries as they explore your app and nothing is more satisfying than sharing those discoveries with the world. By including the option within your app to share their screens and share in-app content, you broaden your app’s visibility and create a platform by which your users can express themselves.

33. Roll Out New Updates Constantly

Your customers need to know you are always making the app better for them. Apps that are not being cared for will be thrown away. Users will feel betrayed if you are not doing all you can to make the experience better for them. This is especially true of you still have not addressed many of the issues that customers rage about in the review sections. Keep your app content fresh and let your customers know that you are always planning something more for them to enjoy.


You don’t need to spend a ton of money to promote your mobile app. Smartphone apps that rely on mobile app promotion strategies like Apple search ads alone won’t prosper long-term. You need a way to get organic downloads without paying for ads.
Feel I missed any note-worthy points in this post? What is your secret app promotion weapon? Let’s discuss that at length in the comments section.

More from the blog

Great communication is an art. Honing it to a keen edge is a science.

The way you talk to customers has a big impact on your brand, and nothing delivers customer satisfaction quite like consistently delightful communication.

When you’re thoughtful about the way you convey information to (and receive feedback from!) customers, that yields better results than any splashy new logo or 20 percent off coupon ever could.

But what does “thoughtful” communication mean when you’re talking to a customer? What’s the strategy behind successful conversations?

World-class customer service begins with treating humans like humans. Follow the tips on how to talk to customers in this guide, and we guarantee you’ll be on your way!

Download the ebook

Download this free guide by filling out the form below.

Maintaining a consistent tone

Just as in music, if your tone is off, the whole piece falls flat. For example, “Anything else?” and “What else can I help you with?” ask the same question, but they are wildly different in terms of tone.


As you define your support team’s collective voice, develop a set of standards for personal and human conversations. This allows each member to maintain their unique voice without sounding like they’re talking from a script.

1. Think of tone on a spectrum

Take the examples above: “Anything else?” and “What else can I help you with?”

One is clearly sliding into bitter-sounding territory, while the other feels friendly but still professional. That’s where you’ll want to be for the large majority of customer interactions.

For Example

Conversation reply thread from Help Scout

2. Use positive language

Positive language keeps the conversation moving forward and prevents accidental conflicts due to miscommunication. Words like can’t, won’t, and didn’t — and phrases like “you have to” or “you need to” — are usually interpreted as negative.

Focus on how you’re going to fix the problem, and avoid words that cause knee-jerk reactions.

For Example

  • Bad: “No, we don’t have that.”
  • Less bad: “I can see how that would be useful, but I’m afraid we don’t have plans to add that functionality.”
  • Good: “While there’s currently no way to do that, we appreciate you taking the time to let us know what you’re looking for — most of the improvements we make come from ideas and suggestions like yours, so thank you for reaching out!”

Say one of your products is backordered for a month and you need to relay this information to a customer immediately. Consider the following responses:

With negative language

I can't get you that product until next month; it's back ordered and unavailable at this time. You'll have to wait a few weeks, but I'm happy to place the order for you right now!'

With positive language

It looks like that product will be re-stocked and available next month. I can place the order for you right now and we'll make sure it's sent to you as soon as it reaches our warehouse!'

Redirecting the conversation from negative to positive places focus on the proposed solution. When the outcome takes center stage, it reduces the odds that customers will be upset.

Customers don’t care about what you can’t do; they want to hear what’s going to be done.

For those tricky situations where customers “have to” do something, you can use positive language to remind them (and yourself) that this is a team effort:

With negative language

  • First, you'll have to check...
  • Now, you'll need to set up...
  • After that, I need you to...

With positive language

  • First, let's verify...
  • Now, we can set up...
  • After that, the best solution is if we..

Positive language keeps the door open for future interactions, and the customer won’t feel as though it was a waste of time to get in touch.

3. Be brief but not brusque

It doesn’t matter how amazing your reply is — most customers are going to ignore a 1,000-word email. Keep both sentences and paragraphs short. Large blocks of text will get skipped right over.

Use images, videos, and links to knowledge base articles to keep your replies concise. Bonus: When your knowledge base is integrated with your help desk, the process is easy because you can pull in articles without leaving your reply!

The goals of a support reply are to answer the customer’s question and to make them feel heard. You might be able to answer a question with a link to an article in your knowledge base, but couching that in a sentence or two is more human.

4. Reply in a timely manner

When you can modify your saved reply with the customer’s name and an acknowledgement of their specific issue within 30 seconds, it can make some people wonder if their email even got read. It’s okay to let non-urgent emails sit a few extra minutes.

Of course, customers who are in a “pulling my hair out” situation want a resolution yesterday. Make responding to them a priority.

Try setting up a folder separate from the main support queue where you can filter less-than-ecstatic messages. Here, the team can see immediately which emails are from customers who need help right away.

5. Always use your customer’s name

If you’re not using the customer’s name in your greeting, you’re missing an opportunity to use the psychology of consumer behavior to your advantage. Dale Carnegie advised readers to “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Your help desk should allow you to automate using the customer’s name.

Just be sure to get it right — use the name they use! Sérgio is Sérgio, not Sergio. Katie is Katie, not Kate. If you don’t have the person’s name, go with a friendly, generic greeting: “Hey there!”

6. Talk their talk

Mirroring your customer’s tone lets them know you’re on their side. If a customer is formal, for example, hold back on the LOLs. If they’re more casual, relax your tone. Adjust based on the tone of the customer’s email. If they’re clearly angry, don’t be a chipper do-gooder — take it down a notch. If they’re excited about something, bring the energy.

For a majority of interactions, the sweet spot is almost always “somewhat like your customer” but not a caricature of your customer.

Mirroring builds rapport and puts your customer at ease, reducing the amount of interpretation needed to understand what you’re trying to communicate.

7. Be careful with jokes

Gauge your rapport with the customer before attempting any jokes, sarcasm or irony — they don’t translate easily through text, so your intent can easily be misunderstood. While emoji and GIFs certainly help, there’s still no sarcasm font, so choose every word with thoughtfulness and care.

If your customer comes in cracking jokes, though, mirroring their humor is a surefire way to make their day!

8. Create a support style guide

Style guides document all the unique elements that make up your brand so everyone on your team can provide a consistent experience across the board. It should provide guidelines but not stifle creativity. Focus on the dos and don’ts of tone and language, and outline the sort of customer service you admire.

The customer support section in Help Scout’s style guide, for instance, covers everything from what to call emails from customers (“conversations,” not “tickets”) to words to avoid (“inconvenience,” “unfortunately”) to how to format telephone numbers.

Creating a distinct language or using specific phrases reflects and instills the values of the company across every team member, reminding them of what they represent and the standards by which they must abide.

Pro Tip: Develop your own vocabulary

Consider creating a “support lexicon” of phrases for your team to live by, such as “My pleasure” and “Right away.” A support lexicon is like wearing your team’s colors. It signals, “This is who we are; this is how we do things.” When those values and beliefs are fostered at the start, helping the employee form an identity around these beliefs and behaviors, remarkable service ensues.

9. Build templates for saved replies

A living database of saved replies that your team can actively build on saves time by streamlining how you answer common questions.

Saved replies can be used to reduce the number of conversations that are not valuable to your company. A new customer who needs to know how to reset her password still deserves help, but this is a conversation that warrants a template. You’ll gain more time to have high-value conversations, which result in real insights.

Establishing a relaxed set of guidelines encourages the team to use their gut to decide when a new saved reply needs to be added; “I feel like we get this question a lot” is often all the justification you need.

Pro Tip: Don't hold back on saved replies

Be liberal with adding new saved replies. There is little downside to having a large library of replies other than getting somewhat trigger-happy and ending up with replies you rarely use. However, it’s easy to access them via your shared inbox's search feature, so this won’t generally be a problem.

10. Give directions chronologically

If you can do something for a customer, by all means, do it. The lower their perceived effort, the better they’ll rate your customer service.

When you really do need a customer to carry out a lengthy set of instructions on their own, use numbers or bullet points. Say, for instance, you need the customer to perform a traceroute to help you troubleshoot why a certain page is loading slowly, and you’ve already exhausted the other possibilities, you can advise the following:

Customer response from Help Scout

Who Do You Want Your Customers To Become PDF Free Download And Install

Who Do You Want Your Customers To Become PDF Free Download

11. Cross-check whole-company support replies

Whole-company support is fantastic for a number of reasons, but don’t let people who aren’t trained in the art of support fire off replies without the sign-off of a seasoned pro.

Have non-support folks use your help desk’s @mentions feature in an internal note to a support team member so they can quickly review your draft reply before shipping it. Remember, customer support is challenging, specialized work — not just anyone can do it.

Taylor Morgan of SurveyGizmo on the value of customer support.

12. Offer to help further

Avoid ending conversations so bluntly that the customer feels you are hurrying them out the door. Instead, invite them to continue the conversation.

“Let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you. I’m happy to help.”

Make sure you customer knows you’re happy to assist with any lingering concerns or answer questions they may feel are “silly.” There are no silly questions in support.

13. Show, don’t just tell

When possible, take a quick screen recording to show customers what to do versus typing it out in steps. This tip comes from Denise Twum, Customer Support at issuu:

“Instead of telling customers what to do, show them! I use Recordit for screencasts — it’s free and generates a link, instead of having to attach a bulky file to your responses.

Now when someone writes in asking how to find a particular page in their account, I can log into the account and record the steps, versus typing out “1. Go here, 2. Click here, 3. Click this green button.”

It’s fast and doesn’t need to be super polished since it’s not for your knowledge base or a blog post. It saves a lot of back-and-forth and has made all the difference!”

Denise Twum, issuu

14. Clarity, clarity, clarity

Use accessible, candid, precise, plain language. Avoid using passive-aggressive or didactic language (“actually,” “ought to,” “should”), slang, colloquialisms, and technical jargon. For a refresher on clarity, we recommend The Elements of Style or these writing guides.

15. Steer clear of customer service clichés

Which one of the following statements do you think is more appropriate?

“You are being transferred. Your call is very important to us.”

“Hi Angela, I’m going to introduce you to Tim, our customer success specialist who will be better able to answer your question!”

Easy. One is a trite platitude that people are sick of hearing. The other explains to customers why the transfer is to their benefit. Wording makes all the difference.

16. Talk to your customers like people

… because they are. Consider the following disappointing example:


We just received your inquiry. We'll get back to you about your order as soon as possible. For your records your support ticket number is #1234567. Include it in any future correspondence you might send.

— The App Team

The customer is literally treated like a number. The overly formal tone doesn’t engage the customer at all — is this an “inquiry” or a conversation with a real person?

Be friendly, personable, and casual. A follow-up email like this works better:

Hi there!

Thanks for your order with us! This is an automatic email just to let you know I've received your email. I'll get you an answer shortly.


Rick Smithson, Customer Support

Customers want to be treated with respect. The day you stop talking to them like regular people is the day you lose touch and relevance. After that, you start losing customers.

17. Simplify for foreign-language customers

When a customer contacts you in another language, use a translation tool (such as Google Translate), and write for translation by using active voice and simple words. Skip the idioms. Lean on visuals more heavily than text. If anyone on your team speaks the customer’s language, ask them to check your reply!

18. End on a high note

Make sure you always get to a place where, “Yes, I’m all set!” rings loud and clear. Try ending your conversation with a phrase like this:

“Excellent! I’m glad we were able to get that sorted out for you. Before you go, is there anything else I can assist you with today? I’m happy to help.”

Believe it or not, some customers might not mention that they have another problem if you don’t ask them about it. Adding “I’m happy to help” shows the customer that answering another question isn’t a burden; in fact, you’d be happy to do it.

Mastering difficult conversations

Feature requests that aren’t on the roadmap, items you don’t have in stock, rules that can’t be bent — you can’t always say yes, but you don’t have to be a meanie about it.

Whether you end up with a satisfied customer or an unhappy one might come down to how you phrase your response.

Difficult support situations aren’t easy (or fun) to handle, and there’s rarely a “perfect” solution to any problem. But with a little preparation, you can approach challenges with tact and grace, allowing you to keep standards high and make better decisions no matter what comes your way.

These techniques will help strengthen your personal relationships with customers as well as your reputation as a company who cares.

19. Apologize sincerely

As the ambassador of your company, you accept responsibility for the customer’s unhappiness. This doesn’t make you “at fault,” nor does it give the customer leeway to demand whatever they want. But it does give them someone to talk to instead of being angry at a faceless company.

“I’m sorry” is mandatory even in situations that aren’t your fault. Consider your “I’m truly sorry about that” a personal apology to the customer that the experience wasn’t up to their expectations — not that you are to blame.

20. But don’t linger on the apology

Focus your reply on action. Acknowledge the problem the customer is reporting, but spend most of your time focusing on what you’re going to do about it.

Say you’re sorry when it’s genuine, empathize, then move on to solving the problem or giving them context to their issue.

21. Be direct

When a customer reports a bug, they’re likely pretty frustrated. For both the initial report and your follow-up, cut to the chase and don’t waste their time.

Overtures, no matter how well intentioned, just delay the message, so keep your communication focused before adding any warm fuzzies.

22. Admit when you’re in the wrong

Whoops! Say a bug deletes some of a user’s settings or your site is under a DDoS attack. Excessive technical details won’t placate many customers or make the inability to use your product or access your site any less annoying. Instead, do the following:

  • Apologize outright

  • Explain the game plan

  • Let them know how you’ll be in touch

  • Follow up when it’s fixed

In 2016, Help Scout faced some uncharacteristic downtime. It was a terrible feeling, but we knew we couldn’t just stick our heads in the sand and hope people wouldn’t notice. We sent our customers the following email:

Nearly all the replies we received were along the lines of, “That’s okay, folks; we know how it goes sometimes! Keep up the great work!” Own up to your mistakes, follow up promptly, and take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. You’ll find your customers are a forgiving bunch.

23. Get personal

Great support is defined by genuine compassion. Use the first-person pronoun to demonstrate yours: “I completely understand why you’d want that,” or “I know how {blank} that can be.”

What you use in that {blank} will greatly affect the tone of your message — one that is obviously being used with an upset customer. Read the customer’s mood and relate with how he or she feels.

24. Admit what you don’t know

Don’t beat yourself up for not knowing an answer. A support rep’s responsibility is to have the tenacity to make things right, not to be perfect (especially true if you’re new).

Being speedy is never as important as communicating with accuracy. If you need time to dig into an issue, simply state that you’re going to find out the exact answer they need, and do just that.

The important thing is that you communicate. If your average response time is 30 minutes, don’t leave a customer hanging for hours just because you don’t know how to answer their question. Reply to let them know you’re looking into it and you’ll be in touch as soon as you know more.

Should you need to assign the conversation to another team, they may realize the issue could take a while. Have processes in place for situations like this. Allow other teams to reply to the customer directly to tell them they’re working on it, or flip the conversation back to support so the customer isn’t left hanging.

25. Ask for their “why”

When customers are vague about why they’re upset, they’re handing you the opportunity to request specifics.

Customer:Your update looks terrible. Make it more like it was before!”

Customer Support:“Oh no, sorry to hear that! Would you mind telling me a little more about what you liked better about the old version?”

You may do something with that intel and you may not, but it’s a win either way: They walk away pleased someone is listening and flattered someone cares enough to want their opinion.

People will complain about your product no matter how well it’s built, so just make sure your language is level-headed and professional.

26. Thank them for the heads up

People who offer detailed information about a bug they encountered are the unsung heroes of your product’s quality control.

Most customers don’t speak up, so you should cherish those who do.

Show them your gratitude by replying with a “Thanks so much for the heads up!” or preferably, “Hey, I really appreciate you taking the time to bring this to our attention!”

If they went above and beyond to help you fix something, send a handwritten thank-you note, or perhaps even a gift.

27. Let customers know they can hold you personally accountable

This tip comes from Matt Hunter, Technical Support for Evisions:

“When you need to forward a conversation to another department, include the phrase ‘Let me know if they don’t get back to you’ in your reply to the customer. It shows them you’re their ally in case someone else drops the ball.

Once I started making sure the customer knew it was okay to hold me accountable, it ended any bad feedback when the other department forgot to follow up. Customers feel like they can contact support and get instant results, which is great.

When the customer does reply to tell me they haven’t gotten a response, I always thank them for the follow up, so they know it’s mutually beneficial. Making the customer feel like they are part of the troubleshooting process and solution is huge.”

28. Feel free to “sandwich” bad news

When you can’t give a customer what they want, try to sandwich the bad news between two hopeful pieces of bread:

“Hey, that’s a great idea! I’m sorry we can’t do that right now because XYZ, but we’ll keep you posted if anything changes!”

“Good catch on that bug; you have an eagle eye. It might be a while before we can get that one fixed. We’re keeping an eye on other reports and will let you know if we have news!”

Never stop at no. Instead, offer a workaround, explain the reasoning behind why you’re not working on a certain issue, or suggest another product or service that might be a better fit.

29. Take a breather

When you feel a strong negative emotion, make sure to double and even triple check what you’ve written to a customer before you send it. No matter how their message made you feel, it’s your job to keep the conversation productive, so go back and read what you’ve written to make sure your emotions didn’t end up in your reply.

Would you use those same words in a conversation with a friend? If not, find new words.

Use your team for gut checks — ping your teammate in a note and ask them to review your draft reply to see if they catch anything you might have missed or have suggestions for framing your message more positively.

30. Let the customer know you’re their advocate

Showing customers how you’re advocating for their needs can lead to a 77% reduction in their perceived effort.

Clearly align yourself with them in favor of getting their problem solved without deferring blame or muddying the situation by over-explaining what you can’t do. Instead, reiterate your commitment to solving the problem by describing the following:

  • What you’ve just done
  • What you will do
  • How your actions are in support of their desired outcome
  • Why you genuinely sympathize with any frustrations they may have faced

“I can’t replicate your issue” is a good example here. It may be true, but without context, this reply feels flippant and lazy. You can accidentally leave the customer with the impression that you’d rather blame them instead of investigating the problem.

Quickly explaining the paths you already explored shows your thought process so the customer knows what you’ve tried and can see what lead you to suggest the non-ideal solution.

31. Focus on the end, not the means

The best solution you can provide isn’t always a solution the customer asked for. Getting to the bottom of what a customer is trying to accomplish can help you solve the problem in a way they haven’t considered.

With a little back-and-forth, you might discover that the customer asking for sub-projects really just needs a way to organize different teams sharing the same account, and hey, your product can do that!

Once you know what their real goal is, suggest that “it may take a bit of an adjustment to your current workflow, but there’s still a way to do what you’re ultimately trying to do!”

Customers care more about the end than the means. If you’re aware of the customer’s desired outcome and speak to that, your alternative might not look so bad after all.

32. Explain what’s going to happen next

When customers make requests you’re unable to fulfill right away, you can still give them something — often, just knowing someone is listening is enough.

“I’m so sorry there’s no way to do that at this time, but I’ll share your request with the product team! They’ll review it and scope it in relation to other initiatives. They also share how approved requests are placed on their road map, followed by coding and testing to ensure a smooth integration with their existing product.”

As a customer, it’s comforting to be assured your request won’t disappear into the ether — there’s a process for handling requests, and you’re being taken seriously.

33. Honesty is always the best policy

It’s better to say no and potentially disappoint a customer than hedge with falsehoods such as “hmm, good idea, let me check with the product team and get back to you.” If the answer is really no, it’s best to be upfront about that.

People can generally spot insincerity when they see it, so if you don’t think it’s a good idea to add yet another checkbox on the settings page, don’t make them think you do. Dishonesty will always come back to bite you.

34. Make your customers feel heard

The next best thing to giving customers what they want is showing them you take their ideas seriously.

Often, people just want to know you’re listening. Small touches like using the customer’s name and phrases such as “I understand” or “I can see why you’d want that feature” go a long way.

Thank customers for telling you what they’re looking for. Whatever their issue, it was important enough to take time out of their day to contact you. Acknowledge the effort and your gratitude for it.

Angry customers are often just as interested (if not more interested) in hearing that someone empathizes with their situation over getting the actual problem fixed. When you have to refuse a request, show your empathy and willingness to find an alternative solution. It is one of the best ways to lessen the sting of saying no.

35. Offer alternatives

You want to create happy customers, not marginally satisfied ones. When you don’t have what they’re looking for, you still have the opportunity to generate goodwill by pointing them toward a workaround or even a competitor.

Zappos, for example, refers customers elsewhere when they don’t have an item in stock — CEO Tony Hsieh has said that while they may lose the sale, in the long run it’s best for Zappos because “the customer appreciates the help and tells their friends the story.”

The resulting long-term loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising outweigh any short-term loss.

36. Explain the reasoning behind the issue

When people understand the “why,” they’re more likely to be forgiving. Say, for example, a customer wants to change another user’s email address but can’t. Don’t just tell them no; explain why.

It may not be the answer the customer wanted to hear, but an honest explanation and workaround is often enough to make them forget they didn’t get what they originally asked for.

37. Resist the temptation to mirror negativity

Here’s where “mirroring” doesn’t apply. Even when the customer is being unreasonable, apologize outright and ask how you might help resolve the issue.

“We’re sorry that you are having this problem” is an infuriating phrase for a customer to hear. It is nothing more than the deferment of blame.The attempt to apologize comes off as dismissive, all thanks to a misuse of tone.

If you come across a lost cause, keep it friendly, keep it professional, and keep it moving.

38. Transfer quickly, but explain why

Handing people off should be handled with care — never miss an opportunity to briefly explain to a customer why this movement will be to their benefit. It’s nearly impossible to get anyone excited about being transferred, but consider the two choices you have:

“I’ll have to transfer you for that.”

“I’m going to set you up with our specialist, Laura, who will get that squared away for you right away.”

Without this brief but relevant insertion, customers won’t know that you are actually doing the best thing, and second only to doing the best thing is letting people know you are.

39. Don’t drag out a lost cause

If a customer wants to cancel their account, do it right away. Nothing makes for a bitter departure quite like running your customers through the gauntlet when all they want to do is leave.

Winning customers back with exceptional service is fundamental, but when they already have one foot out the door, you’re better off reducing friction as they part. Learn what you can, see if there is a way to resolve the issue, and accept the outcome if there isn’t.

Customers aren’t necessarily gone for good just because they cancel their account. Hassling upon exit, however, will ensure they never return.

40. Remain firm when security is at stake

Support professionals’ natural inclination to help can leave team members open to social engineering if they aren’t careful. If your product has different permissions that deal with security or payment responsibilities, for example, you’ll have customers ask you to switch their roles, such as transferring account ownership.

You’ll want to assist right away, but you’ll need approval from the current account owner.

Email that person (separately, so the reply can’t be spoofed), and let the person making the request know you’ve done so and that it’s all about keeping their account safe. When the owner responds, check to make sure the original message you sent is included in the reply. No detail is too small when it comes to security.

You may still run into something like, “But the account owner is on vacation/has been fired/is very busy and important!” There’s always something, isn’t there?

For these situations, it helps to have a policy you can point to on your website. That way, they know you’re not being obstinate; rather, you’re serious about security and unable to make exceptions. That isn’t always easy for people to stomach, but you’ve still got to do the right thing.

41. Don’t pass the buck

If you messed up, pass the conversation on (with context) to your supervisor to figure it out from there together. Mistakes happen.

The buck should stop with you, however, if a customer requests “the manager” just to get around an accurate, honest response. When you’re acting with certainty, speak with kind authority:

“I’m afraid management would have to tell you the same thing. I’m really sorry we don’t have a better answer for you!”

It can also work to hand off the conversation to a teammate, who reiterates the message in different words:

“I’m afraid June is right — we currently don’t have a feasible workaround. I’m so sorry about that!”

Often, a second opinion is enough to convince the customer there’s nothing more to be done.

42. Don’t tolerate outright abuse

Should a customer cross the line and mistreat a team member, shut it down. The team needs to feel safe and like leadership has their backs.

Your reply to the customer should point out the abusive language and state that while you wish to be their advocate, that requires mutual respect. In most cases, that’s enough to de-escalate the situation. If not, you’re within your rights to cancel the account.

It’s hard to come up with a perfect solution for a customer in this state, and know that even if you handle things perfectly, some people simply cannot be appeased. Don’t let that stop you from making your best effort.

Delighting your customers

Beyond providing basic friendly service and turning bad situations around, how you talk to your customers also goes a long way in creating a delightful experience for them. These techniques will help you delight every customer you talk to.

43. Ask questions to get to the bottom of what they’re really trying to accomplish

Often, your customers will come to you asking if you carry the proverbial quarter-inch drill bit when what they really need is a quarter-inch hole.

It’s the principle behind the jobs-to-be-done framework: When a customer asks whether you have a specific solution, take some extra time collect insights and ask what they’re ultimately trying to do.

Ann Goliak, who moved into quality assurance from a support role at Basecamp, began her career as a librarian in a physics and astronomy library. She recalls speaking with a group of undergrads who showed up looking for a basic book on astronomy.

They weren’t, however, really interested in the physical and chemical properties of the cosmos. “It took a lot of back and forth but in the end, what they really wanted was a star chart because they wanted to go stargazing and make out.”

Aside from helping you better understand your customers’ use cases, asking questions and receiving input from your customers builds relationships and generates trust.

That trust will allow you to guide them toward better solutions they haven’t considered, even when it means going through the pain of making a shift in the way they work. If these conversations ultimately lead to a shift in how your product works, then all the better.

44. Boost happiness with GIFs, exclamation points, and emoji

Concerned that using “fun” elements in your customer support correspondence will come across as frivolous or unprofessional? Don’t be! Research shows that subject-matter experts who use emoticons are perceived as more “friendly and competent” than those who don’t.

Contractions, exclamation points, emoticons/emoji and even GIFs are great ways to convey meaning with humanity. In text communications, cues like exclamation points and emoticons can help the sender convey a positive tone the recipient may not otherwise assume.

Remember to modulate your tone for the situation. When a customer initiates the conversation with a greeting like “Hey folks!” that’s a good indication you can exclaim and emote to your heart’s content in your reply.

And GIFs aren’t only fun and games: They can also help you deliver better customer support. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then animated GIFs are worth millions in instructional wisdom.

45. Fix problems that aren’t your fault

Forces outside your control — email clients not playing nicely, your customer’s IT department delaying a company-wide upgrade from Internet Explorer 8 — are going to conspire and make doing business with you harder than it should be.

But if you don’t want to lose business, you can’t throw your hands up and blame those external forces — you won’t win any positive word-of-mouth about your support by treating the symptom rather than the cause.

Sometimes, you need to fix problems you didn’t create. You have a responsibility to help your customer even when the issue is with a tool you don’t support.

It may mean working with third-party tools; it may mean stopping to teach less savvy users about how saving to a PDF works. You can at least answer their immediate questions, then direct them to resources to help them learn.

Your customer doesn’t care whose fault the problem is. They just want it fixed.

46. Build relationships by picking up on personal details

Even when you think you can anticipate the customer’s core need because you’ve seen it before, think twice about shutting down the conversation with a single reply. Take the opportunity to build a relationship.

Basecamp CEO Jason Fried says the thing he envies about brick-and-mortar businesses is the opportunity to engage face-to-face with customers.

Customer service teams don’t have as many opportunities to connect personally over the phone or via email, so when the opportunity arises, seize it! When you can pick up on a detail in their email signature or Twitter bio (“Oh, you’re from Tucson? I went to school at ASU!”), take advantage of connecting like humans.

47. Give thanks in the real world

Time to bring the personal touch back to the real world — send your customers handwritten thank-you notes.

What other 5-minute task creates as much ROI as thanking your customers? You won’t have time to hand-write every customer, but if there is one activity that should never get lost in the shuffle of building a business, it’s thanking the people who make it possible.

One last word

“I just want to speak to a real human!” is one of the most common complaints customers have when dealing with customer support.

Who Do You Want Your Customers To Become Pdf Free Download Online

Selecting one for this and two for that, listening to tinny hold music, being transferred to another department and accidentally hung up on … years of dealing with that kind of insensitive, robotic, inhuman customer service has hardened us all.

We can (and should) do better. As we say in our customer support style guide,

“Clarity and humanity (your own and the recipient’s) above everything else.”

When the choice is between speed and humanity, choose humanity. When the choice is between closing a huge deal and humanity, choose humanity. When the choice is between meeting some key performance indicator and humanity … you got it.

Who Do You Want Your Customers To Become Pdf free. download full

Always err on the side of humanity. The rest will take care of itself.