With the numerous studies showing the popularity of social media for customer service, it can be easy to forget that traditional channels still have a great impact. Voice is far from obsolete, SMS is still alive, and video chat is an increasingly popular channel as well. So what about the channel nearly all of us use in our daily lives: the all-important e-mail?
According to an Econsultancy report, 60% of consumers prefer customer service via email. What's more, 41% of consumers expect an email within 6 hours, but only 36% percent of retailers answered that quickly, according to Forrester Research. And how are companies responding to this demand? In a Benchmark Portal study in which businesses were contacted for product and service information, 83% of small and medium-sized businesses responded with inaccurate or incomplete responses. The answer is clear: companies need to make a greater effort, and these best practices can help deliver exceptional email customer service.
Use templates, with a touch of personalization. Template email responses are good for communicating information clearly, efficiently, and consistently across a brand (as they are sent by multiple agents), but customers should feel that they are valued as individuals. Inserting the customer's name is essential, and including any pertinent information regarding a recent purchase is great for marketing emails. Customers will appreciate a humanized and customized approach.
Keep customers updated. If a customer reaches out to a brand for service by email, auto-responses are important for acknowledging that the email was received. Customers should then be updated on a reasonable basis on open service cases-for example, if a service repair employee will be sent to the customer's home, if a package has been shipped, and the like, with detailed product or service information included. If service is taking longer than expected, customers should be notified as well. Once the transaction is considered complete, a feedback survey email is a good way to close.
Make online contact forms comprehensive. When inviting customers to contact your brand by email, providing them with a clear contact form is one way to gain more pertinent information from them and later classify their requests by topic. Ask for as much information as your brand will need: complete customer contact information, the product or service for which customer service is requested (think "phone", "cable" or "internet" in the context of telecommunications companies), and always a field for free-response comments or questions so customers feel they can freely communicate as much as they need to. This will save everyone's time and enable agents to more efficiently handle service.
Organize customers' emails by topic. Keep track of the service requests that customers send by email and classify them by topic. In this way, companies will better understand which requests are most frequent, leading to improved customer service and insight that will create better FAQs and training material for agents.
Give customers extra support. In each email response, provide customers with important information to make the service process smoother and enable them to find answers on their own. For example, emails may include toll-free phone numbers to call for voice support, information on all social media channels on which the brand is present, and links to frequently asked questions along with a direct link to the company's website.
Given the quotidian nature of email in most people's lives, it makes sense that many customers continue to reach out for service on this channel. By establishing and following best practices, companies are geared to deliver truly exceptional customer service through email. Learn about excellent Contact Center Software solutions optimized for email.