JCPenney WOWs Customer with Empathic, Heartfelt Email Response

A few years ago one of my clients sent me a copy of an email she’d received from JCPenney Portrait Studio. My client, Angela, had taken her 2-month old daughter to the studio to have her very first professional photo taken. Though Angela had an appointment, she, her husband and infant daughter waited for more than 45 minutes past their appointment time.

As you can imagine, 45 minutes of waiting with a 2-month old is challenging. Angela said that by the time they got in the studio for photos, her daughter was tired, cranky and hungry. Because of her daughter’s understandable disposition, they just couldn’t get a quality photo of the precious baby girl. Angela went home and emailed JCPenney to express her disappointment. Forty-eight hours later Angela received what she described as “The best customer service email I have ever received.”

Here’s an excerpt from the original email Angela received:

“As a mother of three children, I can certainly understand the frustration and disappointment you had with having to wait so long and then not having the quality sitting you are entitled to.”


That WOWed me too. This representative related to Angela and responded with sincere empathy. That really resonated with Angela.

Take a look at how the representative offered a recovery and apology:

“You will be receiving a letter for four free sheets of portraits at a future sitting as a way of apology. I realize that this does not make up for the time and effort already spent with all of this but I do hope that it does in some way show how truly regretful I am.”


Don’t you just love that last sentence? “I realize that this does not make up for the time and effort already spent with all of this but I do hope that it does in some way show how truly regretful I am.” The representative is offering a personal, heartfelt apology.

Click image to read entire email response from JCPenney


The bottom line: When you are responding to customer complaint emails, take the time to express sincere empathy by relating to the customer and responding based on this empathic relation. Also be sure to always offer a heartfelt apology. When you do, you will not only solve the problem the customer experienced, but you will restore their confidence and regain goodwill.

Now you can give your representatives even more great skills for delivering the best customer experience and for handling difficult customer situations. Sign up for my email list and learn specific tips, approaches, and phrases to help your employees help your customers.

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