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At Twilio SendGrid, we’re professionals at sending billions of emails a month—on behalf of our customers and to our customers. Over the years, our email team has juggled the art of sending out mass email communications while responding to customer replies.
Here, we’ll share our experience and best practices to help you learn how to respond properly to an email. From fun responses to tricky questions, this blog will help you solidify your customers’ trust and create an open line of communication between you.
Let’s start with the best practices.
First and foremost, it’s crucial to include a reply-to address. This is your sending address, which allows recipients to receive emails and reply. Not only does this address help avoid customer confusion and frustration, but it improves your email deliverability (more on that in a minute).
A reply-to address also shows your recipients that you’re on the other side of the computer and care about their questions, comments, or concerns. By setting up this capability and paying attention to your recipients’ replies, you can improve your email strategy or learn from potential email mishaps. We’ve all had them.
As mentioned, having a reply-to address can also improve your deliverability. Email service providers (ESPs) often identify reply-to addresses as legitimate sources—in other words, not spam. However, if you have a no-reply address, ESPs and recipients might mark your email as spam, having lasting effects on deliverability.
We can’t stress enough the importance of having a reply-to address to steer clear of spam and boost your customers’ overall experience. Plus, it’s a great way to drop potential customers into your sales funnel.
Need more convincing? Read our blog post, What Is a No-Reply Email (And Why You Should Never Use Them), for more facts on why a reply-to address is crucial.
Now that you have a reply-to address, it’s time to consider your email response time. Although having a reply-to address might result in an inbox flooded with automated email replies, taking an hour or 2 out of your day to look at every response ensures you don’t miss critical communication that matters to customers.
Avoid having customers wait for multiple days before they receive a response and try to respond within 24 hours or sooner of getting a reply. Then, consider periodically rotating who’s in charge of your reply-to inbox to avoid fatigue.
And if you anticipate the inability to respond on weekends, we suggest setting up an automated response to let your customers know you will be back on Monday. Just be sure to provide them with a number to call in the meantime—for emergencies or urgent requests.
A prompt email response time shows your customers that their needs matter to you and that you appreciate their willingness to reach out. And when you give recipients a good brand experience, you can expect higher customer retention to follow.
Here’s the not-so-fun part about responding to email recipients: responding to negative replies. It’s crucial to keep in mind that customers who send negative messages might be having a bad day. They may not even anticipate that a real human will read their messages.
Still, negative replies are a learning opportunity for you and your team. That said, not all replies may be worth a response. Best practice is to trust your judgment on deciding which replies are fit for a response and which replies aren’t.
When responding to negative replies, show compassion for your recipient. Even if you may feel indifferent or disagree with their message, continue to put your brand’s best image forward.
To establish a relationship with your recipient, craft personalized responses. For instance, use your first name, the recipient’s name, and “I” as much as possible. You even might start off your response with something like, “Thank you for reaching out, [recipient’s name]. I apologize for your difficulty.”
Once you feel you’ve addressed the customer’s comment or concern to the best of your ability, offer further assistance in case they still need help.
For instance, you could end your response by saying, “Please don’t hesitate to reach out again with any questions or concerns by replying directly to this email.” This follow-up sentence builds trust and ensures your customers feel comfortable communicating with you.
For more inspiration on writing top-notch emails, check out Email Writing 101: How to Write Better Emails in 2021 (14+ Ways).
Although we strive to answer customer questions to the best of our ability, sometimes it’s impossible to answer every question that comes into your inbox–especially if it’s super technical or account related.
If you ever come across a tricky question or sales inquiry, best practice is to forward it to other employees or departments that can use their expertise to better assist your recipient. Align with any other stakeholders to coordinate and agree on who will respond to what types of questions.
At SendGrid, we forward technical account questions like “How do I get rid of this IP?” and “I forgot my username and password, can you help?“ to our Support team. We also forward sales-related questions such as “Can I speak with someone to talk about the benefits of upgrading?” to our Sales team.
Don’t have a support or sales team? Not to worry. You can forward messages to colleagues who are experts in the topic. Or you can address your recipient’s question or concern yourself with a little preparation.
It’s just as crucial (and fun) to respond to positive replies as to respond to negative ones.
In a situation like this, show your recipients some love and let them know they made your day. This positive communication will help you establish a relationship with them, put a friendly face behind your emails, and create a positive brand experience.
Now that you know our best tips on how to reply to an email, let’s put that knowledge to work. We’ve created some email responses below to help you respond to your email recipients. Copy, paste, and tweak them as you please. You can even tailor these responses specifically to your brand’s style.
We recommend saving your most frequently used responses to a document and sharing them with your team to create a quick and efficient response process. Here are our best responses that illustrate how to respond properly to an email.
When emailing, especially if you’re job hunting, impressions matter. The initial email you send in response to an interview request might be the first time the company or hiring manager has a direct exchange with you, so you should make it count.
The most effective ways to stay professional in your response email are to reply in a timely manner while keeping the email formal and error-free. This means spell-checking twice (maybe even 3 times) and remaining mindful of your email response time. For instance, if you received an interview invitation on a Monday, don’t wait a week to respond—respond as soon as you see the invitation and during business hours.
When you’re confident in your email reply process, it shows. So does when you overthink the reply process. While you want to stay professional and adhere to the rules of proper email etiquette, it’s crucial to relax and be yourself.
Although it’s sometimes easier said than done, confidently responding to emails can set your business up for success by creating a positive brand experience with recipients. As long as you’re clear, concise, polite, and timely, you’ll accomplish your task and email with confidence.
Before you do anything, make sure you’ve established a reply-to address to open the door to direct customer communication. It could take some time getting used to, but work with your team and your colleagues to build an action plan around owning responses. You’ll also need to use your best judgment regarding who you respond to, and remember positive replies deserve a response too.
Regardless of the situation, always put your best image forward and avoid letting your customers wait multiple days for a response. By doing all these things, we’re sure you’ll eliminate customer distrust, improve deliverability, and make for happy email recipients.
Need help setting up a reply-to address? Twilio SendGrid’s got you. Check out this tutorial in our knowledge center.