Put Down that Phone
By now, a good number of consumers are well familiar with e-mail as a sales and marketing vehicle. Many overlook e-mail’s function as a customer-service channel, however, and that’s a good thing for multichannel marketers. Shockingly low customer-satisfaction ratings plague e-mail customer service. The same complaints are often repeated: delayed or no reply, and poorly composed replies with inadequate or incorrect information.
To ease the burden of call-center customer-service reps by making e-mail a viable and effective customer-service outlet, eGain, a provider of customer-service and contact-center software, recently published a whitepaper, Mission-Critical Email Customer Service: 10 Best Practices for Success, to help companies make this a reality. Below are five takeaway tips from the whitepaper.
1. Acknowledge receipt of the customer’s e-mail.
Consumers’ top complaint with e-mail customer service is that it takes companies too long to respond — if they respond at all. People are much more willing to accept a delay in response as long as they know their service requests are at least being processed. To that, the whitepaper authors suggest that you set up your e-mail system to send automatic acknowledgments for all inquiries received. These acknowledgments should include an expected response time based on customer expectations and customer-specific service-level agreements.
2. Get the inquiry into the hands of the right agent.
To minimize response time, get the inquiry to the agent best suited to handle it. Steps to make this possible include the following:
* Create Web forms for customers to use when submitting inquiries. These help gather the information the agent needs to solve the problem, and also help to classify inquiries and route them to the corresponding agent most likely to solve that problem.
* Incorporate automated workflows to route e-mails based on the skill and workload of available agents, the nature of the inquiry, and the lifetime value of the customer. Allow agents to easily collaborate with subject-matter experts.
Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.