What is the best way to communicate effectively with customers, prospects, website visitors, coworkers, and employees?
Slack, an instant messaging platform that allows for quick responses and chats, maybe a great innovation. It may be a good idea to use chatbots to keep potential customers informed at all times. Companies like Zappos are firmly committed to customer service and have established themselves as leaders in this field.
What if your company doesn’t have a dedicated customer support team or a call center? What if your business doesn’t have the expertise or time to use chatbots?
Email is a straightforward answer that has been around for decades.
Email is a great way to have professional conversations?
Email is still one of the most popular and even preferred forms of communication. It is everywhere, every day.
A large majority of U.S. adults use email. Adobe indicates that Americans are “practically dependent on email, checking it round the clock, no matter where or what they’re doing.”
Marketing Charts shows that email is the most preferred method of sharing positive feedback. It is second only after a phone call to answer a simple question or register a complaint.
Simply put, customers expect to email you and for you to reply quickly.
It is costly to not reply to business emails
Problem is, most companies have terrible skills in responding to emails.
A third of companies do not respond to prospects’ or customers’ emails. Companies that do respond are often incoherent or inaccurate.
This is costly for small businesses.
Accenture’s study found that 91 percent of respondents felt frustrated when they had to contact the company multiple times about the same issue.
The same study found that 66 percent of global customers changed to a competitor following a bad customer experience.
Wired David Pierce stated that email is not dead but is in danger. Perhaps, it is the way to use the email that is broken.
Managing team email is work—but you can improve your responses
Although managing email for a team is a difficult task, you can make your responses more effective
Don’t let these numbers discourage you. Your business still has a lot of potentials. Anyone who works with email can improve their skills by focusing on the process and receiving training.
You can make your customers stay longer by simply improving your email response. You can convert frustrated customers of your competitors if you can quickly respond with accurate and helpful information.
Although it will take some time to get used to, once you and your team are comfortable with it, it will pay off big.
We have created a 6-step checklist to help you improve your email response rates. You can either read the explanation below or download it and share it with your team. It’s a great checklist that you can keep close to your computer.
6 Steps to Writing a Professional Email Response
These steps will help you respond to an email.
1. Please read the message
Done? Great! You can now read it again. It is easy to overlook important details the first time. Email readers scan emails in eight seconds or less.
You can do better than that by reading the message and then re-reading it. Although it may seem like a waste, you will be amazed at how many words your brain adds and subtracts while reading.
2. Find clues
Context is important. Writing can make it difficult to understand and convey emotions and the underlying intention. To get a better understanding of your role, ask yourself these questions.
If there is a problem, what’s it?
What is the goal or intention of your sender?
Are you able to tell what they are feeling? Are they mad? Happy? Neutral?
Which priority level does the email have? Normal, high, or urgent?
Is it urgent? You will need to assess two factors to determine the urgency of your email: the nature of your problem (something broken versus something generic) and the expected time to provide a solution (does it require an answer as soon as possible).
When working with a group, there is a third consideration to think about: Does the problem need to be solved by someone more knowledgeable or authoritative on your team?
You might not have access to the private information you need or you may require a colleague from IT to help you with a technical problem. You’ll need to raise the priority of the issue if that’s the case. Make sure your team is on the same page regarding message priority. You might need or have to develop specific guidelines for your organization.
Do not delay. Customers expect prompt responses. Customers expect prompt responses. You should aim to respond within 24 to 48 hours. However, you can work with your team and establish a goal for the response time.
3. It’s worth it
If the issue is simple and easy to solve, you can skip writing your reply.
Are you looking for additional information such as account numbers, supporting documentation, or other details? If so, you should take the time to collect all of your resources.
Are you looking for team support? Perhaps you are looking to offer a discount but need approval from a supervisor. Maybe the issue with the sender is more of a misunderstanding than a problem that needs to be addressed. You might want to talk with your team if the priority is urgent or the sender seems hostile.
4. Your response should be written
Empathy is the first step. Empathy is one of the most important customer service skills you can develop. It is easy to look at the text on a screen without realizing that it was written by a human being with real emotions. You can understand their feelings and respond accordingly.
Recognizing the perspective of another person does not mean you are accepting responsibility. However, it is a huge difference when they know that you understand them.
Confirm the goal and problem. You accomplish two things by reiterating the problem or goal you have understood from the sender. You’re making them feel heard. You’re giving your recipient the chance to express their purpose and clarify any issues that you may have misunderstood.
You must commit to a solution. It is important to let your reader know that you will be there for them until the issue is resolved. Nobody wants to feel that they have been added to a list of customers or lost in a void where they may never receive a reply. Your reader should always be there for you.
Provide a concise and clear solution. You can also use the internal notes function of your shared inbox to reach a team member directly and ask them for assistance. Use this opportunity to educate your reader about how they can solve the problem. Provide links to support documentation if you have one.
5. Invite a reply
Maintain a healthy relationship and avoid a “one-and-done” response. Never respond to a “do not reply” address. Invite a reply. Invite your reader to reply.
Be sure to go through your email once more before you hit the send button. You don’t have to be an expert writer to help you write your reply.
Send the email when you are ready.
6. Get feedback
What did you do? It doesn’t matter if your reader replies, it is nice to check in with them again after a few days. If you follow up, you can include a satisfaction survey or ask them to respond with feedback about how they responded to their initial request.
You can use customer satisfaction scores to measure and quantify how your entire team responds to emails. These scores can help you to identify areas for improvement.
What can you do to improve? You should also create a feedback loop with your team. Ask your coworkers to offer suggestions for ways you can improve your future responses.
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