Your business needs a rapid response email system. Without such a service your company or organisation will lose reputation as well as custom. In other words if you do not have a rapid response email system in place, you will lose money and could damage the entire future of your business.
Research suggests that customers want you to respond within one hour of their email. They find that waiting any longer is annoying and is deemed rude. So if you do not reply within the hour you are damaging your reputation and storing up negative feelings about your company within your audience.
So how do you organise a one-hour response system? There are two difficulties that you will face however you do this. Firstly, you may work alone or in a small organisation where one-hour responses are difficult to organise as you have so much else to do. Secondly, your business may be so busy generally that you cannot cope with the volume of emails you receive and that need answering within an hour.
The first step to take is to analyze the kind of emails you receive from customers. Do they ask similar questions? Are they on recurring topics? Who are they addressed to? What are the most frequent things you are asked about?
Once you have done some analysis of your emails you can then work out what to do with them to reduce the volume that you need to handle, but also to ensure that people get a reply within the hour. The best way of doing this is to publish several different email addresses that will focus on the specific areas your customers want to contact you about. Then each email address should be set up as an autoresponder so that an immediate response is provided.
An example of a rapid response email system
Here is an example that will help you see what you can do to improve your email response.
An Internet marketer sells information in a subscription-only membership site. The members of the site contact the owner for several reasons including:
- Payment issues
- Navigation problems
- Information suggestions
The company has set up three email addresses, one for each of these areas:
Then for each of those email addresses they have used Marketer’s Choice to establish an autoresponder. So, as soon as someone sends a question to ‘payments’ for instance an email is sent out which says that a detailed response will be provided soon, but in the meantime ‘here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we get about payments’. In this way, anyone asking about payment information is provided with a personal response, immediately upon sending an email. If they subsequently respond to that autoresponder email (because their question is not covered in the FAQs) the reply is diverted to another email address which alerts the Internet marketer with an SMS text message. In that way they know they have an urgent email which requires immediate response.
My own example
In my case as a single Internet marketer I have found that most of the emails I get from customers relate to issues at the final stages of the buying process. Things like not getting the download link, or the non delivery of a receipt are the kind of things that most people ask about. Often, the answer is simply that their spam filtering system has blocked the emails. So, I have set up a “support@” email which goes out to anyone requesting support.
Using the Marketer’s Choice system means an immediate response goes out. I then get a message telling me who is looking for support. I also build up a mailing list of people who asked for support, which I can then use for further contacts or market research. If I used my ISPs autoresponder system I would not have any of these advantages.
By having this immediate response I have found that people trust me and like my business more than similar businesses. The people who have emailed my “support@” email address tell me they were impressed by the quick response and that they found the FAQs in the email very helpful. Indeed, only a handful of people have needed further help. What this has all meant is that I have provided rapid response to emails from my customers, keeping them happy and enhancing my business reputation. In addition, it has reduced my email workflow, freeing up time to work on the business.
Your volume of emails, of course, may be greater. Or you may have a kind of business that needs a more individual response. In this case you could delegate much of your email answering to a call centre. Many of the online 24/7 call centres will now also answer emails for you. The basis for each response can be provided by you in the form of templates. But these email centres mean you can respond to customers within an hour, even if they need an individual response and you are asleep.
Whatever you do to arrange rapid response emails, though, you need to ensure your system can respond to customers quickly. Otherwise you will lose their income and they will start telling other people how bad you are.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+