Emails that go nowhere…

I’m annoyed this afternoon and I thought it was worth a blog post. WHY would you ever send an email that could not be replied to – especially if that email is in response to a customer support issue? This practice continually both amazes and infuriates me.

Case in point, web hosting companies that send you email updates on a support issue but if you try to email back a response to their update, put your message in the great void. How do you think you are making your customers feel when they are trying to communicate with you and they get an email back that says something like this:

Thank you for contacting Company X Customer Support.
The mailbox that your message was sent to is unmonitored, and as a result your e-mail will not receive a response.

If you require support for problem A go here: www.companyx.com/problemA
If you require support for problem B go here: www.companyx.com/problemB
If you require support for problem C go here: www.companyx.com/problemC
ETC…

So, now I have just spent time writing my message in response to the email you sent me (usually telling me how you have not yet solved my problem) and now I can’t just reply to the email to continue the thread and get my issue resolved. Why must I wade through 10 options to figure out where I should go next? How is this servicing your customer? The answer – it is not.

Even companies who are well-known for their customer service can fall into this trap. Southwest Airlines, which is generally a fantastic example of customer service, uses this same type of system for Customer Service emails. We had an issue on a recent flight experience and after receiving a long and thoughtful reply from their Customer Service Department, with a case reference number, I had to go back to the web site and fill out their comment form again, to send a follow up to their reply – not very user-friendly!

We could probably all benefit from taking an objective view of our communication and customer support practices. Try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes – is your customer service department easy to contact and quick to respond OR does it function more like a complicated choose-your-own-adventure story?

It is worth taking a look at your process and discovering if you’re treating your customers the way you’d want to be treated if you had an issue. If we all took the time to follow the golden rule when designing customer service responses, the world would be a much less frustrating place!

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