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Got a serious complaint? Here's the best way to get your email read

23 September 2019 2:58 PM
Here are the distinct characteristics of an email that no one can ignore.

Good to know with Wendy Knowler is a monthly consumer podcast series that gives subscribers insights into the most common mistakes made by consumers in South Africa. If you are in the market for a car, planning your wedding or wondering how to change your travel plans – this series will have something for you. Subscribe so that you don't miss out on the series, here.

When you first fall in love with a leather lounge suite on the showroom floor and an enthusiastic salesperson approaches you with an irresistible discount offer (available only) if you purchase right away – you might consider it perfect timing, right? That's all great, until something goes wrong and you cannot get responses to your complaint.

In this episode, Wendy Knowler offers invaluable advice to make sure that your email is never passed over... not just by herself but, by whomever you are sending a complaint email to.

Here are the distinct characteristics of an email that no one can ignore:

1. Summarise the problem in the subject line

If you don't want your email complaint being left unread in someone's inbox, you're probably going to want to work on your email subject lines. Getting your message across depends on your subject line and, effective subject lines grab the attention of the reader and, gets results. Vague subject lines such as "please help" don't deliver the full message and, prompts the recipient to probe for more information, which is something that they probably don't have the time to do.

Tell me the issue in a few lines and, I'll know if I'll be of assistance or not.

Wendy Knowler

2. Greet the recipient

If you are contacting someone for the first time to ask for help or advice, it is important to take the trouble to use their name. It's a really good start says, Wendy.

3. Spacing, punctuation and font size

When typing your email complaint, it is important to establish a clear timeline of events and, to use a legible font that is large and clear enough to read and understand. In addition, it is also important to separate your thoughts into short paragraphs with the use of commas, paragraph spacing and full stops. To make the process easier and, to prevent the recipient from having to write back to you, include important details such as cell phone numbers, account numbers, dates, company names, and contact numbers. Make reading your email the easiest thing to do in the whole process.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that about 80% of the emails I receive lack vital details.

Wendy Knowler

4. Photos are important but, keep them small and in focus

Taking pictures of defective goods, invoices or sections of contracts can help prove your case but, it is important that those pictures are kept small and, in focus. Sending large files to the recipient means that it would take some time to download, adding to the frustration on the part of the person who wants to resolve your problem, efficiently.

5. State the outcome you want!

Before you hit send, consider whether you have provided all the information needed for the recipient to take the case up with the company. At the end of your email, it is important to state what it is that you want and consider to be a fair resolution of your complaint. This allows the reader to follow the appropriate escalation channels to ensure that your problem is resolved.

Attention to detail matters!

Wendy Knowler

Got an idea that you think would make a great podcast? Send an email to with Good to know with Wendy Knowler in the subject line followed by your podcast pitch.

For more consumer-related stories, tune in or visit the ConsumerTalk feature page.

ConsumerTalk with Wendy Knowler on Afternoons with Pippa Hudson, Wednesdays between 13.00 – 14.00 on Cape Talk.

Knowler Knows Consumer Talk on The Azania Mosaka Show, weekdays between 13:00 – 15:00 on 702.

23 September 2019 2:58 PM


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