Those emails count in customer service

Emails can be an important part of business. When customers are looking for information about a company, many will now utilize the convenience of emails since many cell  phones are even equipped with the applications. It can be a great opportunity for a business owner to cultivate new clients, keep current customers interested, and promote the personal touch if needed in particular situations.

I volunteer for a horse rescue whenever I have time, and even though the rescue is an all volunteer organization dedicated to saving and rescuing horses, it is a business; that is to say the horse rescue must run as a business regardless of it being a 501(c)3 non-profit while it is trying to help horses find safe homes. The owners of the rescue are very active, and this rescue is one of the largest operating in the eastern part of the US. Every week the owners of the rescue  travel to nearby auctions and broker barns, list horses,  display their photos and brief videos of the horses’ abilities on a website and use the internet to provide a wider venue other than local auctions for these horses to find homes. The web site attracts thousands of unique visitors every month, and with that the amount of emails are overwhelming. So how does a business effectively handle emails and provide efficient and polite customer service?

Here are a few suggestions I have learned:

  • Use the 24 to 48 hours rule. Answer emails in a timely manner because people no longer have the patience to wait. It isn’t like the “old days” of snail mail; now it is assumed that the email is received immediately, and an answer is expected immediately. In order not to be overwhelmed if there are numerous emails, divide the time on the computer into two or more sessions.
  • Use a filter on your computer. You can eliminate much of the spam. You can also separate sales pitches, entertainment (jokes from your friends) and business which will make you immediately more efficient.
  • Work on some standard replies. We know that many answers  to customer or client questions are readily available on your website, so having some stock answers can relieve you from answering the same inquiries over and over.
  • Act professional. Some people are just not nice, but it can not and should not break you down or make you answer an email in an unprofessional manner. If an email angers you, step away from the computer, relax or take a walk. Then come back, think about your reply and stay cool. Use the delete button if the email is inappropriate.
  • Inform people if you are unable to answer you emails on time. In the case of the horse rescue, if there is an emergency with a horse, ( as sometimes happens) it is difficult to reply to emails. In this particular case, the rescue runs a social and educational internet group. She is then able to notify readers and members that she is unable to answer within 24 to 48 hours.
  • Use other qualified people to help answer all emails. The horse rescue will use volunteers to help answer emails in order to keep everyone notified and answer questions. In other businesses, hire someone knowledgeable to help. It pays.

Answering emails and staying in touch with customers builds loyalty. Never let your customers hang; rest assured that someone else will be there to save them.

photo credit: megwillis