How to reply to an angry email

We’ve all had an angry email sent to us. Perhaps the author of the email wants to get taken off the mailing list or they feel they are being sent spam. Sometimes it can be hard to know what to say in response to these emails. So I’m going to explain exactly what you need to know to create the perfect response. 

1 – Read between the lines

Angry emails are written in the heat of the moment, so they come across as quite brash and rude. But tone of voice is hard to digest via email. Don’t take a short, snippy email personally. Instead, read what the person is saying. Do they find your emails annoying because you send them too often or do they not find the content useful? Feedback, even negative, can help you improve your emails for others.

2 – Understand where they are coming from

The email is emotional and, therefore, you need to be emotional back. Be “sorry” for intruding on their time, “understanding” of what they are asking for and “happy” to help resolve their problem. Your response email needs to be as personal as possible to remind the prospect on the other side of the email that they are interacting with a human being. Using emotive language can help them remember this fact and often soften them up to be more accepting of any future emails they may get.

3 – Keep your response short and sweet

Once you’ve identified the real issue in the email, find a way to fix the problem immediately. Then explain to them exactly what you are going to do in your response in a short and simple email. Being personal and using emotive language is good, but waffling on will only annoy them more. So be personal, but get to the point if you want them to reconsider.

4– Ask questions 

If you’ve pitched your response email in a personal but prompt manner, you may be able to ask the recipient a few questions. Ask for feedback on what they would change, or if they would consider signing up for your newsletter again if you changed things in a way that suited them. There is no harm in asking. You might just find you get a response.

5 – Write a draft and email it to yourself

It can be very tempting to respond to angry emails immediately. Don’t do it! Your own temper will get the better of you. Instead, write a draft and email it to yourself. After a couple of hours (or even the next day), take a look at the email again and think if what you are saying will come across in the right way. If it doesn’t, amend your draft before sending the email to the correct recipient.

6 – Give them something valuable

In the B2C world, unhappy customers usually get something to keep them happy. A voucher, discount or some other form of apology. In the B2B world, we don’t seem to do that. However, there’s no reason you can’t respond to an angry email with something you believe is valuable. Perhaps a piece of content or a link to a web page they may enjoy (even link them to this blog post about angry emails for a laugh). By using a PURL in the email you send back, you’ll be able to see if they interact with this content and then know if your response email worked.

Here’s an angry email response I created just the other day. Feel free to use it or send me examples of your own angry response emails on Twitter or LinkedIn.

“[Name],

I understand your frustration and I have now, personally, removed you from our mailing list. However, if you do change your mind, I’ve attached a guide on lead scoring and why it could work for you.

Again, my apologies for upsetting you.

Shelley Turner”

You can even use our F in Email Guide to help you!


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