Why better email management is vital for customer service
While channels such as social media are rapidly increasing in importance, for the majority of organisations email is still the communication channel of choice for customer service. It has the advantages of being quick for the customer, has an audit trail and is available outside normal office hours.
Yet judging by customer complaints and even the views of industry figures many companies still don’t know how to handle email in a way that meets customer needs. From Eptica’s experience here are six ways of ensuring email management adds value to the customer experience:
1 Make email visible and available
It should be obvious, but our research has found that some companies, particularly in consumer electronics, still don’t allow non-customers to email their customer service team. This is the equivalent of slamming the door in a prospect’s face – make email contact options visible and open to all.
2 Build in workflow
Rather than a generic email, use online forms and drop down options to help route the query to the right place. If customers can select that their email concerns returns for example, they have greater confidence in getting an answer and you can automatically send it to the right agent.
3 Acknowledge email
Customers fear that emails sent to contact centres will disappear into a black hole. So put in place an autoresponder that acknowledges receipt and sets out the timescales for responding.
4 Give clear timescales – and stick to them
It is amazing the number of companies that set a timescale for response – and then completely fail to stick to it. Once you’ve set an expectation with a customer make sure you get back to them – even if it is to let them know progress to date rather than a solution to their more complex query.
5 Integrate email with other channels
Email isn’t a customer service channel that works in isolation. Integrate it with your overall contact centre infrastructure and share a single knowledgebase that spans all channels.
6 Answer the question!
Some websites seem to favour speed of response over accuracy but there’s no point sending an email that doesn’t answer the actual question that the customer has asked. Make it easy for agents by using the knowledgebase to auto suggest answers and put in place a clear process for new content to be added in response to customer email queries.
Email may not be making the news as much as social media, but with 107 trillion emails sent in 2010 it needs to be the bedrock of your customer service strategy for the foreseeable future.