DON’T WAIT to Respond to My Emails!

David Meerman Scott - an online thought leader...

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A look at David Meerman Scott‘s Appendix 2010 Fortune 100 Real-Time Speed Analysis (in his book Real-Time Marketing & PR: How to instantly engage your market, connect with customers, and create products that grow your business now) is shocking.

Ranked #1 in Fortune 100, Walmart Stores did not respond to Scott’s email. Exxon Mobile (#2) was stated as “unable to contact”. On the other hand, I am impressed by those few companies that responded within an hour. That shows the efficiency of the support team when it comes to their customers. Among the top fews are AT&T, Verizon and Microsoft. Kudos!

It is aggravating when you talk about providing the best customer care for your customers but responds to their emails late. Even more annoying when we, customers cannot find the contact form/email or the submission of the form returns with failure to deliver.

Never go beyond 2 days. If you take more than 48 hours to answer your customers’ emails, CHANGE now.

Oblivious Marketing Guy

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I have emailed a number of support questions to many social media and established companies. I am not particularly happy with the response time from SpotXchange (the longest I waited for a reply was 20 days). GoDaddy was fast. Technorati was hellish. Blogger (Google) never replied my emails (at all).

From my experience, only 2/10 replied my inquiries (NO! No automated replies please and thank you) and show empathy as well as assistance towards my queries.

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What excuse could there be? We are living in the 21st century for God’s sake. How long does it take to reply an email? I can fully understand that when email was not as popular as it is today, it takes 2-3 days to answer a posted letter. That’s forgivable. However, an email is just a click away!

I do not need you to reply within seconds. Our life does not revolve around technology only. We do not need to stick to our gadgets all the time but customers’ inquiries should be answered within 48 hours. That’s not too much to ask, right – considering your companies’ support and marketing team consist of more than 3 personnels?

Automated Replies

I dislike automated replies. Seriously. I would rather have a personnel responds personally, letting me know that they are working on a solution than an automated reply that tells me my email will be replied in 48 hours (even more funny when they do not reply me in 48 hours) blah blah blah. If the former method was applied, at least I know who to go to if my query was not answered.

Solution

Dave Taylor recommends to hire someone to answer customer support email, because “email is just as important an avenue for customer queries as telephones, yet many companies hire or outsource a bevy of phone support people and leave email to an intern or as a side job.”

I pretty much agree with Inc.’s guide on some standard steps in using e-mail as part of your overall customer service strategy (How to Use E-mail to Improve Customer Service):

1. Respond promptly. Nothing more outrages a customer with a complaint, a defective product, or questions than sending an e-mail and waiting and waiting for some type of response from a business. You need to respond immediately to each customer e-mail, even if it’s with an automated response that lets them know when they can expect you to respond personally.

2. Solve your customers’ problem. Don’t just send an e-mail saying that you received a customer’s question or complaint. Make sure you find an answer or a solution and get back to them with it ASAP.

3. Send a follow-up e-mail. After you provide information to your customer, send a follow-up note in a few days to make sure your customer was satisfied with your help.

4. Ask them to fill out a survey. If you want feedback about their experience with your business, your product, or your customer service, ask them to fill out a survey.

5. Turn the customer contact into an opportunity. Now that you have started a correspondence with the customers, ask for permission to contact them again or see if they would like to receive promotions or coupons or your e-newsletter.

A quick read on David Meerman Scott’s books will help.

In the emerging real-time business environment, where public discourse is no longer dictated by the mass media, size is no longer a decisive advantage. Speed and agility win.

- Real-time Marketing  & PR by David Meerman Scott

Stumbleupon, I am still waiting for your reply.

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