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Minimize Customer Service Support Emails?

     
3:03 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

I enjoy everything about running my own ecommerce website, but one thing that I hate and wish I can do without is handling "customer service support" emails. Customers seem to ask questions regarding every little thing, and just seeing new emails from customers makes me cringe. And obviously; these emails tend to increase the more orders you receive, or customer replies from emails that I initially send.

I can see now why some of the large ecommerce sites use "no-reply@domain.com" type email addresses when emailing customers this way it isn't as easy for customers to reply back if they want to follow up again, but need to use the contact form listed on the website instead.

Do you guys find yourself in the same situation daily dealing with "customer service support" emails?

Are there any methods that you guys use to try to minimize "customer service support" emails?

Thank you,

olimits7
3:26 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Even small companies will use standard forms to reply and increase efficiency.
This is usual practice...
4:26 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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You can use an integrated helpdesk with your store. With osCommerce I use, there are various modules that can streamline customer emails, assign them to departments, creating tickets automatically, custom responses via email templates etc., speed up customer support emails a lot.
4:37 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like a good problem to have. If you try to go a different direction than providing the best customer service around then you're going to lose customers.

Sometimes the customers that ask the most questions also come back and shop from you again and again. I would embrace it if I were you or find someone who can.
5:27 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Especially when you know that people who ask the most are people who buy the less...

Most of my best customers never asked anything, but how many axx keep asking stupid questions without buying anything ! They are lucky that this business in online !
5:31 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Customers seem to ask questions regarding every little thing


Are these questions answered on your web site? (presuming yes.) Then this could mean that your vision of how easy that is to find is not as easy as you thought. True though, often people don't bother to look and just send the email, no matter how easy it is.

One approach is as you said, a contact form but with a twist - set it up so it does a post via Ajax for the terms as they type them, and if results are found, a section appears: "Do these links answer your question?"

Personally I agree with others, these aren't annoyances, they are leads.
7:29 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Yes, these questions are answered on the website but like most customers I feel they never read anything that is listed on websites.

That is a good twist to add to my contact form. I think I've seen this used on other websites, and it can definitely help point customers to answers that are already listed on my site.

I do agree that usually the people that ask the most questions are the ones that end up being more of a pain, and usually don't even place an order. On the other hand, I have had repeat customers that never sent me a single email but keep on returning for purchases.
7:40 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I agree with the OP, and cringe when I see a full Inbox.

I always laugh at the rediculous emails similar to this: "I'm looking at your Widget, and was wondering if it would work in the spaceship I'm building. Do you have any experience using this to build spaceships?"

Or: "I want to order 3 of your heavy-widgets, but does it really cost more to ship three than to ship one?"

Or, from a work email address, but the order was placed from home: "Did my order ship? Signed, Bob"
8:29 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I don't think you'll ever stop all of it. It's just part of the game. No car salesman sells a car with every person. I have people recommend me all the time because I helped them. It pays off down the road.
8:32 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I had the same problem and I solved the problem like this:

1. I looked through customer emails and checked for questions and problems that came up again and again.

Then I looked at the underlying reasons for the problems.

For example one problem was that customers forgot the password, requested a new one on my website and then claimed the new password did not work. I solved this problem by removing the letters 0,O,I,l from automatically generated passwords. Since then, not one email about passwords not working.

I got lots of emails asking if I would send to specific countries, despite the fact that it said "delivery to all EU countries" on my website. Especially our friends from across the English Channel seem to be not really sure if they are an EU member or not. I got rid of the problem by listing all countries speratly.

For other questions where this approach did not work I generated a FAQ section and placed a link to the FAQ on the contact form. "You have a question? Please check our FAQ before submitting."

If the FAQ do not work for you you can even do it a little more sophisticated: Create a contact form using a dropdown menu where customers can select a "subject" for their email. If they select "Question about shipping costs" automatically display the shipping costs or a link to the shipping costs, below the subject line.

2. I don't use an email program but a ticket system for customer service. All emails that are submitted with the contact form or are sent to my email address go into the ticket system and automatically create a new ticket.

That's a big time safer even if you are a small company and complaining about a "full inbox" actually means you got five or six emails on a day.
- All your emails and replys to your emails are displayed on one page. You see the whole conversation and not only the last email. Especially good if you do not work alone.
- You can see all previous tickets from the customer on one mouseclick.
- You can easily create predefined answers for questions that are asked very often and insert them with one click.
- You can add notes to tickets
9:46 pm on Nov 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@olimits7 I'd encourage you to rethink how you perceive customer service. Certainly the instant value of some of those seemingly pointless questions from your customers may be small or nil, but like dpd1 said, it's really a brand and reputation builder that can lead to lots of business in the future.

If you rethink of your customer service strategy as a brand builder and not a time waster I think that mindset will go a long way. How can you make your customer service even more comprehensive? Can you give coupons to customers that ask questions?

Weird thought, but you might be surprised with the results. Just one idea of many when you think of customer service as a brand building machine.
8:04 am on Nov 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Make your "Contact Us" page an FAQ list that answers all of the most-asked questions. At the bottom of the page make a JavaSctipt link that says, "I've read this FAQ and still need to ask a question" that reveals your email address. I've got a few sites with "needy" users that this has helped with. It forces people to truly evaluate if they've looked for the answer on the website.
8:24 am on Nov 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Management of standard text is the most important thing to react.Options are tickets or free sources.

There are many:
1. [osticket.com...]
2. [eticketsupport.com...]
3. [zendesk.com...]


I wonder which is the best for small and medium companies as you post.
10:13 pm on Nov 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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if you're getting questions over and over again then your website isn't doing a good job providing the information to the customers.

Using a boxed reply system isn't you answer - your answer is improving your website and content.

Remember for every one person that bothered to message you with a question, 10 more are probably living your site right frustrated but not bothering to email you.

Step your game up son.
2:15 am on Dec 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@jecasc, what ticket system do you use? One of my 2012 goals is to implement a customer support ticket system.
9:29 am on Dec 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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if you're getting questions over and over again then your website isn't doing a good job providing the information to the customers

Up to a point but when I get phone calls asking me what the address is for sending a cheque when the only place the phone number is found is next to the address I do wonder!
9:04 pm on Dec 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Then clearly state next to the address what it is / isn't for:
sending cheques, returning products, visiting your store in person
10:16 pm on Dec 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

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As they say, you can't fix stupid. I think your site could be perfect, and you will still get that stuff. Just have to put up with it. My favorites are the ones where they email and ask how much an item is. Or ask how they can purchase one. "Hi... I saw your product on your website where you sell them... Where can I buy one of those?" I'm like... Really? Or the people that asked you a question like, 4 months ago... and they email again and go... "Hi, it's Bob... So I think I'm ready to buy that item we talked about". No quote, no nothing. Oh yeah! Bob! How could I forget you!