Jennifer Trenery
Jennifer Trenery 6 July 2015

Seven Ways To Turn Email Into A Customer Services Opportunity

It may seem obvious that brands should be available to customers via email, yet many businesses neglect this channel. Here are our seven best practice tips .

Modern customers expect to be able to contact you with their complaints, praise, questions and comments by email. If you can’t respond quickly enough, they will turn to a competitor who can.


These are our top seven most important considerations to make the most of email as a customer services channel.

1. Be Available

This may seem obvious — but is it easy for customers to find your email address?

  • Are your newsletters and emails set to ‘no reply’? If so, change them.
  • Is your email address available on your website(s)?

Remember that everyone can make their comment public on social media. Being uncontactable could spawn a PR disaster.

Now that people can get hold of you, you need a response resource in place. This places big demands on your team.

Outsourcing email customer service to a specialist agency might be the answer. However, you will need to establish clear roles within the process.

2. Be Personal

Virgin’s Richard Branson is famous for his personal replies to customers’ complaints and questions. The result? Sir Richard gives his brand a face.

Sir Richard says: “Making customer service key to your company will keep your employees motivated and your customers happy”. Customer conversations can become hostile when people sense they’re receiving templated responses — you must create a conversation.

3. Be Quick When The Email Is Angry

As we all know — when you’re angry, you’re angry now. You want the company to acknowledge and fix your problem before you go to a competitor. The average UK retailer’s email response time is 43 hours 52 minutes, according to the 2015 Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study — which seems slow to us.

4. … And Quick When The Email Is Friendly

Likewise, all leads go cold. If a customer eager to do business with you has one last question, get back to them as quickly as you can.


5. Analyse Email Data

Many organisations don’t realise that customer feedback is a goldmine.

Analyse your customers’ emails, social media posts and online reviews to discover:

  • Is there an issue people regularly complain about? Perhaps your delivery company or cleaning contractor is letting you down?
  • Do customers like a particular product? If so, could you promote it?
  • Is a particular regional branch outshining the others? What are they doing right?
  • Are any employees receiving praise? They deserve to be mentioned in your internal newsletter.

It’s easy to lose touch away from the shop floor, so it pays to listen.

6. Move Good Interactions Onto Social Media

When you receive a volatile tweet, the best move is often to move the conversation to private email. It also works the other way around…

Sainsbury’s delighted a little girl with a personal reply to her letter about renaming Tiger bread ‘Giraffe bread’. When her Mum blogged about the interaction, a huge online audience discovered Sainsbury’s excellent service.

Happy customers should be asked for a testimonial, a TripAdvisor review or to tweet their experience. You’ll be amazed how often people do this — according to a Trustpilot survey, the main reason they post reviews is because the company asked them to.


7. Consider Outsourcing

Answering every email sent 24/7 is too much for any individual — but that’s what customers expect from your brand.

Leading businesses have found a solution in outsourcing online customer services to specialist agencies which can handle the challenges of multiple time zones and platforms. Trusting someone to engage your customers using your voice isn’t easy, though — you must choose the right partner.

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