The customer service representatives at XYZ Company include the sentence "Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you" at the end of every email–at least on every email they send externally.
When Ashlee, one of XYZ's customer service reps, writes to me for feedback on her business writing, her message always ends "Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you." (Note: All names used here are fictitious.) When I asked Ashlee about the closing sentence, she said, "Our senior executive requires us to include it on every email."
No doubt the executive wants the reps to communicate a consistent customer service message. But when does repetition become mindless rather than meaningful? After all, when Ashlee writes to me for feedback, I am providing a service to her–not the other way around.
What if the senior executive directed the service reps to include that closing sentence only on messages to customers? Would that change make the sentence more sincere?
I don't think that step is enough.
If "Thank you for giving us the opportunity . . . " appears at the end of every email to customers, it may litter an email thread unnecessarily. Also, the obvious repetition would reveal the sentence as automatic rather than authentic.
If "Thank you for giving us the opportunity . . . " appears at the end of an email in which the service rep could not meet the customer's need, it may come across as ironic–or even sarcastic. It may encourage the customer to deny the "opportunity" next time.
When sentences like "Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you" appear constantly, they detract from a company's efforts to make customers feel special and important. They ring hollow, like the infamous voicemail message "We are unable to answer your call, which is important to us."
I recommend having customer service agents end their emails a variety of ways, choosing the way that suits the individual message. To reduce the time it takes to compose a sentence, service reps may have a menu of closing auto-messages to choose from. Here are just 10 possibilities:
- Thank you for the opportunity to resolve this situation for you.
- Thanks for the opportunity to help.
- I am [or We are] always happy to help.
- It was a pleasure to help you.
- It is a pleasure to serve you.
- Please let me [us] know if you have any other questions.
- Please let me [us] know if you need anything else.
- We value your business and are always happy to serve you.
- It was a pleasure working with you.
- We are available 24 hours a day if you have any other questions.
Any of the examples above can include the customer's name, followed by a comma, at the beginning of the sentence; for example, "Dr. Adams, I am glad we were able to solve this problem for you."
What do you think about repetition in customer service messages, as either a customer or a service provider?
If you would like to assess and improve your writing skills, I am teaching a business writing course in Seattle on October 20 and online on December 4 and 5. I would appreciate the opportunity to serve you. (I intend just a hint of irony in that closing sentence.)