Inbound email can be one of the most disorganized, inefficient, unsupervised, and unmeasured communication channels in the contact center. With our customers’ expectations climbing at an unprecedented rate, it is a communication channel that can’t be left behind.
Through experience and research, I have discovered 10 effective ways to help contact center supervisors overcome the inbound email challenge.
Here are the first 5 tips (in my next post, I'll cover tips 6-10):
1. Initial Automated Response and Answer
Initial Automated Response: As soon as a customer sends an email they should get a confirmation from your organization that their email was received. I have heard organizations say that they want a personalized touch with every communication, however, a large percentage of customers believe nobody will ever respond to their email. After not receiving a quick response, the customer then calls in, doubling the workload of your center. A simple email stating that their response has been received and that you are working on resolving their question or concern will not only improve the customer experience but reduce your workload too.
Initial Automated Answer: Our team has worked with organizations to take the initial email response to a whole new level. If your organization, like many, has a number of common requests, there is technology available that can actually read the email, understand the customer’s intent, and respond immediately with a personalized email; completely bypassing human intervention and providing unbelievably fast customer service.
I have seen a number of contact centers that don’t queue email but rather send them to a general “shared” inbox. This method is horribly inefficient not to mention emails will ultimately fall through the cracks! The fact is contact centers have been honing their skills on queuing voice communications for decades. Email should be treated the same way and routed and prioritized by skills, availability, presence, agent workload, nature of the question, or customer status (gold, silver, etc.) with measured service level agreements. I could write an entire blog post on this subject alone! If you are not queuing your contact center’s email today, I strongly encourage you to start.
Email remains the most popular method for online shoppers to communicate with customer services,
with 54% saying they prefer this method.
- Bold Chat
3. Tied to Customer Record
I can’t even begin to say how important this is. We have all received “that” call from a customer asking if we had received her email and have had absolutely no way to see it. Nothing says to a customer that she is not important like not knowing her communication history. Then to top it off, a few hours later, she actually receives an email response as though her earlier phone call did not exist.
It is critically important to empower your agents with a view into all of the customer service emails and other correspondences that have come in from that particular customer. If not handled properly, this can really hurt efficiency as well as the customer experience.
The more you can personalize an email to that specific customer, the better. Obviously using a customer’s name is top of the list, but there is also opportunity to include past service history, past purchase history, loyalty information and so on. The more you can make the communication specific to that particular customer and add value to the transaction, the better.
5. Pre-built "Commonly Asked Questions" Templates for Agents
Here is a real opportunity to positively impact efficiency, consistency, as well as customer experience. By empowering your agents with well-written, informative, pre-canned responses to commonly asked questions, you can dramatically reduce the time it takes for an agent to respond to an email. This can include personalized fields that pull in the customer’s information making this process even simpler.
Are you ready to implement one of these tips today? Let me know how it goes and feel free to reach out with any questions. Stay tuned for the next post when I wrap up the last 5 insights for managing inbound emails in your contact center.
Click here to read Part 2 (tips 6-10) of this blog post.