As it appeared in the Daily Nation on August 9th 2016
Last week in this column, we talked about the email overload that many people are facing today. This is not reason enough to not respond to our customers’ emails in a professional and timely manner. One of the best emails I have ever received as a customer was an exit email sent to me by audible.com an amazon.com company. I had by mistake signed up for Audible Listener membership. My call to cancel the membership was immediately followed by a personalized email from the representative that I had spoken to. The email read in part, “Hi Lucy, Thank you for contacting Audible, my name is Leo, your Audible specialist. I’m glad that I was able to help you today”. Leo further alerted me that a refund would appear in my account within 7-10 days but to my surprise, the refund reflected in the account within minutes.
I wonder if any of us has ever received an email after they closed their bank account that read in part, “we are sad to see you go”. Key questions we need to ponder – Do our companies have a structured way of communicating to customers via email from entry to exit? Have we captured the correct email details of our customers? Do we keep our customers informed without spamming them with too many emails? A few days ago, I took a representative from a supplier to task because she was calling to find out what my email address was despite having communicated with the organization on many occasions. I mentioned to her that the email address was somewhere in her organization and sure enough she traced it. It is evident that such a company has a gap in the management of their customer database. Without effectively managing your customers’ emails database, it is difficult to communicate with them via email.
The email from Leo may have been from a template that audible.com uses but since it was personalized, it seemed like it was crafted just for me. With a structured email communication system, email communication with customers becomes easier. Other key questions to ponder are – How often should you email a customer? How many marketing emails should be sent to customers? The number of times one can exchange an email with a customer is dependent on nature of business interactions. My advice though is that sometimes it is better to just pick up the phone and call the customer. Regarding general information or marketing emails sent to customers in bulk, I always find that these should not exceed one per week at most for retailers. For many other companies a monthly or even a quarterly email is adequate. In addition, such emails need to be catchy and targeted because they will otherwise be deleted without being read. It is also important for organizations to have a clear policy on access and use of the bulk-emailing list. Unless in case of an emergency only prescheduled and approved email messages should be sent in bulk.
Personalizing every customer email is vital. Even bulk emails need to capture the customer’s name. It is also important to spell check prior to hitting send because once an email is sent it is gone. Lastly include your contact details especially a phone number through which the customer can reach you directly.
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer and can be reached on email@example.com/old or via twitter @kiruthulucy