During a recent Q&A after a talk I gave on support language, an attendee asked me what I felt about using, “Regards,” to end emails. I have to admit I gave an involuntary shudder and might have said, “Gah! No!”
I don’t hate “regards” like I hate, for instance, thank you for your feedback. But I really, really dislike it, because it doesn’t in any way make me feel welcome.
I’m a big believer that there’s full words and there’s empty words. Full words are casual, inviting, and pleasant, and can’t easily be interpreted as the opposite. If I end an email with the phrase, “Let me know if you need anything else,” it’s pretty clear I mean it.
Conversely, empty words shut down conversations harshly, and don’t encourage more discussion. Words are doors that we’re either opening wide so our customers can come through or we’re slamming closed in their faces. Ending an email with, “Regards,” tells me that you’re done talking. It tells me you’ve had your say, and my reply isn’t welcome.
When working with customers and users, we should use language that only encourages more conversation, whether it’s in support emails, social media, or in our documentation. When you’re typing words into a box and sending them to the screen, say those words out loud as if you’re finishing up a conversation with a coworker who’d asked you a question. You’d probably say to that person something like, “Feel free to let me know if you need more help with this,” not, “Regards.”
Ok, so maybe you don’t actually want a customer to write back and add another email to your queue, but there still has to be a door left open for customers to ask more questions or share more ideas with you. If you’re worried that inviting more emails is going to suddenly cause some great correspondence avalanche you don’t have the bandwidth for, think about inviting customers to post in your online forums to engage some other users. Adding a link with the line, “Check out our community forum to get answers from other users like you,” flows a customer into a place of more information without shutting them down.
Whatever you do, use your words to keep the door open. Think about creating a short email signature with an invitation for a customer to write back if they need more help so it’s included in every email you send. If you’re stuck in a language rut, here’s some alternative lines you can start experimenting with in your support emails:
- Let me know if you need anything else!
- Don’t hesitate to write back if you have more questions.
- Hope this helps!
- You can always contact us again if you need more help.
- We’re always here to answer any questions you may have!