Email Cheaper for Customer Service, But You Gotta Use it Right

Most companies that aren’t still waiting to approve funds for mimeograph machines have focused on using e-mail to handle customer service issues. But a new Jupiter research study finds it takes companies longer than answer online than it did two years ago, reports Wired.

Juicy stats and ironic twists, after the jump…

Of businesses surveyed, 25% responded to email inquiries within 24 hours, down from 27% did so two years ago. Also, companies are taking over three days to respond.

    “When consulting firm Marketspace Advisory tested 30 companies with e-mail queries, fewer than half even answered the questions. Moreover, for those who did bother to reply, the answers were often confusing and offered no method of pursuing inquiries.”

Companies often used incomprehensible subject lines and gave customers no way to follow up. Keys to giving good email include:

  • An automated reply to tell customers when a more detailed answer will come.

  • Subject line with company’s name.
  • Easy to scan message for pertinent info and easy way for customers to respond with follow-up questions.

Take care of the problem by email and save money. If a customer can’t understand the email, they’re going to call up and increase call center costs. Or you could do the whole thing back-asswards:

    “When Forrester e-mailed Chase a question about mortgages, the bank sent back an e-mail with a toll-free phone number.”

Customer Service Goes to Hell” [Wired] (Thanks to Gina!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. EagleEyez says:

    The response to a customer e-mail inquiry with nothing more than a phone number irks me to no end.

    In a recent query to Amtrak Guest Rewards, where I supplied them with transaction details, order numbers, and dates, I waited 24 hours for an e-mail response and received just this:

    Thank you for contacting Amtrak Guest Rewards.

    Please contact us at 1-800-307-5000 so we may research this further for

    Thank you

    They need me to call so they can research it further? What more can I say that wasn’t already in my initial inquiry?

  2. OkiMike says:

    I don’t see what their fear of responding to emails is.

    At least it DOES feel like a fear when I don’t hear from them after 3 days.

  3. x23 says:

    i’ve emailed JVC 3 times over the past 6 weeks or so. trying to get someone to call me back about a broken DV deck i need fixed/replaced/etc. finally i gave up and realized they were never going to email back. so i gave them a call… guess what? first thing the phoen said was to use the email form online for expedited service. rrrrright. the phone system had no applicable options. so i hung up.