Great Customer Service through Email

“Email is a critical medium for online customer service.” The only thing more important than response time and personalization is the quality of your response. Go the extra mile to resolve questions in a single email.” – The Bottom Line

With the advancement in technology, customers expect faster, easier and more efficient support and service. It has become simple to get this support and one of the easiest methods is getting customer service through email. Even though a company may not be interfacing with customers directly, providing top class customer service through email could leave a positive and lasting impression on customers. Your company and its service should come across as competent, caring, and empathetic for customers to trust it and want to come back seeking its offerings. Well-trained and proficient service personnel would be able to convey this impression of the company with ease through their brand of outstanding customer service through email.

Despite a number of new service channels, seeking customer service through email is still very popular. In fact providing customer service through email has been the backbone of digital service for companies to interact positively with their customers. Statistics reveal that email still commands at least 69% of all customer-company contact. Even in midsized companies, at least 30% of all interactions with customers happen through email – which is at least hundreds of emails on any given day. Despite these statistics, companies must remember that email is no longer the only digital channel through which customers connect and hence it would make sense to incorporate customer service through email in the larger gamut of the overall customer interaction strategy.

Are there reasons due to which customers still use email to seek service? Is your company aware of these reasons and do you have suitable responses and are able to provide great customer service through email? Email still seems to be the preferred mode of interaction by customers given their need for speed, ease of interaction, and efficiency, when dealing with companies. They would tend to use this mode when their queries may be too long or complicated or when they were unable to find suitable self-help options on the company’s website. Companies must ensure that they have a team of service personnel dedicated to responding speedily and effectively to these queries. The service staff must have access to updated information and be properly equipped with tools to provide such service and ensure that each response be personalized to the respective customer. This would ensure that the company gains a reputation of a caring, trustworthy, efficient, and knowledgeable entity – which in turn would ensure repeat business and customer referrals.

Seeking customer service through email is the chosen path of customers making a complaint. The written ‘conversations’ via email provide an accurate record of the interactions with the company – something that is not possible over mediums such as a telephone conversation.  Email interactions ensure that vital facts such as time, date, and company representative being spoken to, are clearly recorded in the mail trail. In addition, both the company and customers would remain aware of using appropriate language, tone, and responses that meet regulatory and company parameters. A company could land in serious trouble if its representatives use inappropriate language or do not respond in the manner that they should – the transparency and clarity of email interactions would be enough to implicate them.

As customer service evolved, companies put in the facility of self-service where customers can simply access, and can ‘troubleshoot’ their way through a problem. However, there is no personalization and when a customer is frustrated or would like to compliment a company, they would much rather have a human interaction. By providing customer service through email, the responses provided to customers could be personalized through using the customer’s name, referring to their particular query / problem, and providing a tailor-made response / solution to them. Companies and their representatives, must however, be mindful of the fact that even though they might receive several emails in the day, for a customer their email is possibly the only interaction they may have had with the company in the day or even over several days. This means that the customer would expect that the response ‘speaks’ only about their problem and engages with them at a personalized level.

Failure to provide such personalized customer service through email could cause significant and irreparable damage to the relationship with the customer. In addition, as mentioned, given that the communication is written and transparent, customers could easily share it with others, even via social media, thereby negatively influencing a large base of customers – existing and potential. As a practice, companies must ensure that customer service through email is customized, personalized, consistent, and properly structured to keep such issues and negative publicity at bay. Companies must remain mindful of the language and tone they use with customers – friendliness and empathy must never crossover to the side of being fickle and casual. This is especially true when certain customer demands cannot be accommodated or the company would be denying a request via email. At least 78% customers agree that such language could make them feel poorly about the company.

When customers seek customer service through email, it usually means that they are not in a time-bound situation or in too much of a hurry. Rushed customers usually make contact with a company via the telephone and or use the live chat option. A customer would typically write an email to send out their query or problem to the company and would prefer to receive a well thought out, personalized and articulated response, which would save them time and effort. Of course, this does not mean that companies can defer the responses for too long – a research showed that customers would like to have responses within 2 hours, which is a lot longer than the wait times through other channels of communication.  Companies must be equipped to provide expected responses and customer service through email within this timeframe. Not doing so could make a simple query take the form of a problem and blow into a vicious complaint. Many customer relationships can potentially be damaged and customers could either seek other methods of gaining a response – such as the highly visible social media platforms. Having to follow up for simple queries is a leading cause of customers to write negative comments and possibly even switch companies.

It is vital for companies to acknowledge every request for customer service through email and provide a fixed yet realistic timeline for the resolution of a problem. An email with a simple query should be answered in the first instance – customers appreciate such speedy and efficient service. The fact is that if a customer is taking the time and making the effort to write an email, the company must acknowledge this effort. While a customer would be seeking customer service through email because it is convenient and transparent, they expect the company to put as much time and effort in putting together a top class response. A response that would answer their queries / provide solutions and may be, also provide some extra and useful information would raise the satisfaction level of the experience and could encourage repeat interactions.

Clear, precise, personalized, and speedy responses are the expectation from customer service through email and companies that are able to provide it consistently would become the preferred business ‘partners’ now and in the future for customers. Email is still highly used and remains the mainstay channel for customer service and will remain so until customers decide otherwise.

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