Email is a popular interaction channel - customers find it convenient to use, and companies encourage customers to use email because it is less expensive than phone calls. Yet, customer satisfaction with email customer service is abysmally low. The complaints are almost always the same: delayed or no replies, and poorly composed replies with inadequate or incorrect information.
Is it that hard to make email-based customer service work? Here are 10 tried and true ways to improve email interactions with your customers.
1. Set and manage customer expectations -- Set up your email system to send automatic acknowledgments for all email and webform inquiries received. The acknowledgment must include the expected response time.
2. Monitor, monitor, monitor -- Define service levels based on customer expectations and service level agreements and enforce them with these capabilities:
3. Automate service with intelligent routing -- Create webforms customers can use to submit issues. Webforms make it easy to gather the information agents need to solve problems, classify inquiries, and route queries appropriately. Set up automated workflows to route emails based on the skill and workload of available agents, the nature of the inquiry, and the lifetime value of the customer. Make sure that workflows allow agents to collaborate with subject matter experts. Agents should be able to forward draft responses, and share internal notes.
4. Make complete customer information available -- Give agents easy access to account and billing information as well as complete interaction histories for each customer. Set up quick access to external data sources such as UPS tracking systems that agents frequently refer to while responding to inquiries.
5. Build a knowledge base -- A comprehensive, up-to-date knowledge base is the answer to most service problems.
6. Provide self-service access to the knowledge base --
7. Preempt customer inquiries through proactive communication --
8. Integrate email with other interaction channels -- In a multichannel service environment, create an enterprise-wide view of the customer with a centralized customer database.
9. Respond to customer feedback --
10. Use a proven solution -- In evaluating email management systems, start with those solutions that have been proven in a business environment similar to yours. At a minimum, look for the following capabilities:
If you wish to avoid the IT investment and system administration efforts, opt for a hosted email customer service application. Again, look for a vendor with a proven track record.
Provided by Meenakshi Sharma, Marketing Communications Manager, eGain