Although customers are increasingly turning to social media platforms for support, many still rely on more traditional communication methods. In fact, an Econsultancy report found that 60 percent of consumers still prefer customer service via email, while an American Express study found that 38 percent of customers still turn to online customer support or email for simple issues. This means companies not only have to continue to include email in their larger omni-channel support strategies, but also ensure the quality of service provided. If done well, customer service email can be leveraged to help improve overall customer experience. Each one is a unique interaction and an opportunity to build stronger relationships. Here are some simple, yet effective steps for successful email support that goes beyond simply solving problems.
Make it Personal
It makes sense to have an email template that everyone can use to ensure brand consistency, but that doesn’t mean it has to be cold and impersonal. Your customers crave human interaction. According to Accenture Strategy’s Global Customer Pulse Research, 88 percent of customers use digital channels at some point in their shopping journey. While 41 percent want even more digital options, only 36 percent of customers believe that digital channels are better than human interactions. The lesson? When customers reach out to you via email, make it as personal as possible:
- Address the customer by name
- Introduce yourself (or the service agent) by name (extra credit for including a photo)
- Using a reference number for a service case
- Apologize and/or thank the customer
- Use a conversational tone (yet still professional)
When customers feel they’re getting personal service, they become better (i.e. repeat and loyal) customers. This doesn’t mean every email has to be written from scratch. On the contrary, it’s possible – even advisable – to create customer support systems that increase efficiency while still remaining personal. Many interactions are common (changing an address, for example), and having a quick, simple way to respond to similar questions or issues can save support reps a lot of time. Just be sure to make automated replies as personal as possible.
Make it Quick and Easy
You already know customers want to communicate with you via email, so make it as easy as possible for them to do so:
- Add your email address while submitting your web directory to search engines and verify it immediately.
- Add your email address in Google maps.
- Provide one email address for customer support.
- Include your customer support email on your “Contact us” page and in all correspondence with the customer, both offline and online.
Social media isn’t the only place where customers expect immediate response. Forrester Research found that 41 percent of consumers expect a response to their email within six hours. The lesson here is don’t delay, and never ignore. Use an auto responder to acknowledge a customer’s email as soon as possible. This promptness is the key to quality email support as it helps prevent small issues from growing into large problems.
Make it Informative
The quality of an email counts as much as its timeliness. Let customers know what you are doing to fix an issue and when they can expect resolution. If a customer has to follow up with you to ask about the status of her email, your support process has failed.
- Keep customers updated on things like when a package has been shipped or when a service repair employee will be at the customer’s home. Always promise (and deliver) a resolution
- If you need to provide complex or technical concepts, keep it to no more than three points. Beyond that, provide a link to a knowledge base where customers can find more detailed information.
- In each email response, it’s important to provide customers with any information that might make the service process smoother and allow them to find answers on their own.
These simple steps can help make your email customer support a valuable tool in your overall customer experience strategy by transforming a boring, automatic email into a personal experience. To learn more about how ASK can help streamline your email support process, make it more personal and leverage it as a powerful CX tool, contact us today for a free demo.