Email communications are inherently social; but of course, social in a very different context than communicating via today's social networks. Many e-commerce companies are charged with delivering customer service through email; and that is not an easy task. Intentions, tone, and meaning can often be misconstrued in writing. Here are 5 tips for making your intentions clear and delivering a great customer service experience via email communications:
- Answer Quickly: Most customers who email have an expectation of receiving a very quick response. Therefore, emails should be answered as soon as possible. Common sense dictates that someone is not always sitting on the other end waiting to reply immediately. That being said, emails should be answered the same business day or by the following morning. Answering quickly not only satisfies customers, but can be better at converting sales, and can also cut down on more work within your company. If the customer gets tired of waiting for an email, they may call and then you will still end up responding to them as well. Remember that quick doesn't mean callous. It is imperative that you read over your emails and plot out a careful, well-thought-out, and thorough response.
- Include All the Details: One of the goals of your email communications is to minimize the back and forth. It takes up your time but also prolongs the time frame of satisfying the customer. When you include all details about what you are talking about, this helps you reach your goal sooner. The details you should include are complete descriptions, links, and your company policies. Much of the details that you want to include can be template to save you time.
- Predict and Answer the Next Questions: In addition to including the details mentioned above, you should also try to predict what the next questions might be and answer them. Some of the success with your predictability will come from experience and eventually knowing what your customers will commonly ask. More of your success at predicting and answering the next possible questions will come from knowing your products or services inside and out. It is important to capture both areas of expertise in writing and develop a standard operating procedure that includes templates and guidelines in the form of "if, then" scenarios. Predicting next questions can come into play if you see that a customer is emailing from a geographic location with a country specific email, or maybe a region specific email address; then you could include shipping details that are specific to their country or location. If they are asking about sending an order as a gift, include information such as directions, letting them know how to indicate that their order is a gift, or let them know whether or not you ship to alternate addresses other than the shipping address. If they ask about sizing, you should include sizing information on every product you send information about.
- Find the Right Balance between Jargon and Professionalism: Email communications from a company should always be professional and free from chat shortcuts, slang, or jargon. However, there is still that social aspect of email. Make sure to follow your company culture first and foremost; but being friendly and courteous should always be a part of your communications. Always start out with a greeting and close with well wishes.
- Follow Up: Organization is a big part of handling the job of email communications for a company. Marking customers for follow up and creating a schedule of following up at the right time is very important. It shows customers that you care, one of the greatest aspects of customer service.
Carefully read and re-read each email before you click that send button. Think about how your email will be received. Could a customer misinterpret what you wrote? Is there another way to word it so that it is clearer? If you are unsure about the tone, check with a manager or a colleague. It is also very important to balance the time spent on an email. The purpose of email is to streamline communications, not make the job more complicated. Know when it's time to pick up the phone and make a call. Rather than wasting time on too much back and forth or risking being misunderstood, sometimes it is better to pick up the phone and speak to the customer. Remember that every communication via email is written evidence of what you have told the customer. Be sure to stay organized and keep track of what you say and always make sure that you are truthful and represent your company details correctly.