Thursday, February 15, 2007

Employees and Email Don’t Always Mix

After leaving several voicemail and email messages for a customer support rep regarding the fact I’d been double-billed for several months for the same service, I finally received proof that my pleas had not been pitched into a black hole.

His eloquent, empathetic response to my last email request?

“Working on it.”

No, I’m not kidding.

Nothing else. No “we apologize for the inconvenience” or anything of the sort. My being financially penalized for being a customer wasn’t even met with an automated response or even with the account rep signing his name.

Chances are his manager may not even know he handled this so poorly (but that will soon change).

If you want your customers to flee like guests at an IRS-sponsored cocktail reception, feel free to duplicate this example. Of course, we know that you want to keep your customers happy; unfortunately, it’s what you may not know that’s costing you money.

Who Gets To Represent Your Company?: Are all of your employees set up to communicate on behalf of your company? If so, do they understand the guidelines and parameters of how to handle an email communication? Email has become such a standard method that we often get sloppy at times in our spelling, punctuation and choice of words. Give employees specific guidelines—including exact phrasing—on how to respond to the most common issues.

Better yet, use an automated system for standard responses. It will not only save you time, it will also ensure that your messaging is consistent and properly articulated. Using automated messaging properly leads to the next item...

Choose Words Wisely: You’d be amazed at how a few poorly chosen words can unravel an entire customer relationship. Perception matters a great deal here and choosing words that extend respect and concern are always a good idea.

Got a Sarcastic Employee? Tell him to save it for the people who aren’t paying for his service. If he wants to give cutting barbs to his buddies or family, that’s his business. Keeping him from doing it to customers is yours.

And as for my current customer service experience?

Well, let’s just say that I’m going to give management a chance to make it right, and if they don’t, they certainly won’t be getting referrals from me.

It will cost them, they won’t know it, and they won’t miss it until it’s too late.