As e-commerce businesses, we have a variety of reasons to email our customers. These emails include order confirmations, shipping notifications, customer service response emails, marketing emails, and much more. In this post, I want to focus primarily on customer service emails. Shoppers have come to expect the human touch almost as much online as they do when they visit a store in person at their local mall.
Given this expectation, let’s discuss how you can optimize customer service emails to create a stronger relationship with your customers.
When you contact a customer via email, what email address do you use? Have you considered the impressions that you give simply based on your email address? In my opinion, the following is a best-to-worst ordered list of email addresses used by e-commerce companies.
- email@example.com – Using the name of a person, whether it’s a customer service rep of a major brand or the owner of a part-time hobby business, gives customers the impression that there’s a dedicated person willing to help them complete a purchase and support them after the sale. You can use full names or, for privacy purposes, shorten it to first names or first-name-and-last-initial. This kind of email address allows customers to create a mental image of the person behind the keyboard, and is the best way to create a relationship between the customer and your store.
- firstname.lastname@example.org – Any variation on support or service indicates that you at least have a dedicated email account for helping customers with any issues they may have. It might be monitored by one person or many, but there’s the idea of a dedicated department willing to handle the customer’s questions or problems.
- email@example.com – This is my least favorite kind of email address – another variation is firstname.lastname@example.org. This gives customers the impression that the store’s main focus is on income and sales. And of course it is, otherwise you wouldn’t be in business – but a customer wants to feel like THEIR business, and therefore their experience, is your primary objective. Not your overall profit and loss statement.
The obvious goal your customer service email should have is to answer the customer’s question or address their issue. Beyond that, you can do much more to strengthen the sense of a relationship that your customer perceives by doing the following:
- First of all, address all responses with the customer’s name, just like you do on formal correspondence. Your policy might be to use the customer’s first name, or to address a customer as Mr. or Ms. Lastname, but be consistent.
- Restate their question or concern in your own words, so that it’s clear that you have read their email and aren’t an automated software bot guessing at an answer.
- Then offer the solution or answer.
- Finally, sign your name and let the customer know they can respond to the email to contact the same person again. Even better, offer a direct phone number or extension they can use if they would like to continue the discussion by phone.
If the response leads to a sale, provide the “wow factor” by having the CSR sign his or her name and a short “thank you” on the packing slip or as an insert in the box.
Is a Helpdesk OK?
What if your communications require a CRM or helpdesk type of solution?
That’s understandable. Even if customers can tell the email comes from a piece of software, it’s still better than no response at all! If your volume of correspondence requires this kind of software, just make sure to optimize your emails and CSR accounts to keep them as personalized as possible. And if you use canned responses, at least make sure to sign them with a real person’s name.