An estimated 11 billion emails are sent everyday worldwide. If your Customer Service Department receives 100 emails a day and each one takes an average of 10 minutes to deal with, that’s more than two full work days involved in simply responding to email coming in on just one day! If this is your situation, your employees are probably overwhelmed and your customers are dissatisfied because they are experiencing unacceptable response delays.
E-Customer Service is supposed to make our lives easier, not harder. When E Customer Service is handled right, it offers many benefits, including increased customer satisfaction and retention, increased productivity, and reduced operations costs.
Moving routine interactions online saves Cisco Systems nearly $270 million annually—with increased customer satisfaction. This week I am sharing with you 4 of the most common costly and time-consuming mistakes companies force their Customer Service Reps to make when handling email consumer response — and I offer solid solutions for each mistake.
1. Replying to Simple Requests and Routine Questions When You Should Be Using Auto Responders
A lot of us waste a lot of time responding to queries that won’t land us new business or even strengthen relationships with current customers when these same queries could be automatically handled. A simple, but often overlooked solution is to use Auto Responders.
Auto responders allow you to send an immediate, pre-written response to anyone sending email to a designated address. For example, anyone sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org could receive an automatic immediate reply with specific product information for Product #44, including a link to a downloadable product manual for Product #44, and no live person would have to read or respond to the message unless the auto responder doesn’t completely answer the customer’s question. To use Auto Responders, you’ll simply need to set up the pre-written messages and attach them to designated email addresses. (Your IT Department can help with this).
2. Typing Routine Messages Over and Over When You Could Save Frequent Reply Messages in Draft Folders
Often, customer service professionals are saying the same thing over and over again to several customers via email. You can type the reply one time and save it as “draft” and then go back and copy the paragraph or phrase and paste in your customer’s email. This draft can be saved on a folder on the company’s network or each customer service representative can have a copy saved in their email manager. Here’s how it works. If you often have to type something similar to:
“We appreciate hearing about your experience, but we cannot compensate you in this matter because you failed to follow instructions for the product.”
You would save this exact phrase in a draft folder and then copy and paste it as needed.
3. Shipping Customers Documents or Explaining to Them Where to Go On Your Website to Find Information When You Could Just Put Commonly Requested Documents In Portable Document Format (PDF)
Don’t waste time and money shipping documents and booklets or telling your customers where to find your docs on your website. Save commonly requested docs in your draft email folder. This way you can immediately send customers documents, even large documents such as User’s Manuals or Warranty Information without expensive postage and time delays by creating PDF (Portable Document Format) documents. Create Adobe® (www.createpdf.com) lets you convert a variety of documents into PDF files that anyone can view using the free Adobe® Reader®.
4. Not Maximizing Technology By Making Your Website a Self-Service Center
Responding to simple routine, non-revenue generating inquires is almost always a waste of your employees’ time. Your people need to be available to handle contacts where they have the opportunity to restore customer confidence, build loyalty, or strengthen relationships with your customers. They don’t need to handle “Can you tell me where the nearest XYZ Outlet is to zip code 74012?” questions.
What you need to do is generate a list of commonly asked questions and put the questions and your answers on your website so customers can search your database and find their own answers. This can save an enormous amount of time and money because customers can serve themselves instead of calling your reps or sending emails for help. One of my clients, Vistakon – a division of Johnson & Johnson, has the best example of online customer service I’ve seen. Check out Vistakon’s FAQ page by going to http://www.jnjvision.com/faq.html.Other great examples include Amazon.com and http://www.callcenterwebinars.com/faq.html.
Bottom Line: Automate as much as you possibly can and always look for ways to automate more of your routine responses. Four out of 10 workers don’t find that email makes them more productive and that’s probably because they haven’t learned to automate common functions. Implement the ideas I presented here and you’ll find that email not only makes you more productive, but it increases customer satisfaction and frees staff up for more tasks.