Handling more and more customer service problems over e-mail? As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rear its ugly head, a lot of customer service remains in the digital sphere. And with children at home and adults trying to operate under the same roof all day long, it can be hard for a customer to pick up the phone and give you a ring.
That’s why e-mailed customer service has become more important than ever. Customers are expecting quick responses and helpful guidance through their in-box, and if you offer an e-mail customer service hotline, you should expect to see increases in questions throughout the remainder of the pandemic and beyond.
Why does e-mail still matter in the days of social media and live chat? First of all, while chatbots can certainly be beneficial to a business, a large number of customers still may not trust the newer technology and prefer to communicate via e-mail. Second, with something like social media, where everything is so public, customers may not feel comfortable sharing the details needed in order to get proper assistance. It’s also hard to stay on top of social media, whereas an in-box feels much more organized and comprehensive. E-mail is a vitally important part of many companies’ customer service efforts and should be treated as such.
But how do you measure customer service effectively? Every customer service effort you utilize should have a way of being quantifiably measured. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to accurately track your time and resources, and you’ll struggle to improve your service efforts. If you’re spending a ton of time having customer service agents monitoring in-boxes only to feel dissatisfied with how customers are reacting, it will be difficult to change course without solid numbers. Here are four benchmarks to track customer service e-mail tactics to ensure you’re serving your customers and helping your business grow.
First Response Time
More of an operational key performance indicator (KPI), first response time is an incredibly important way to measure customer service. When a customer e-mails with an issue, how long does it take for him or her to hear back? This can greatly affect a customer’s attitude about your business. Obviously, it’s all about achieving the balance between answering the person thoroughly and answering quickly.
The most important thing when it comes to response time is the communication of expectations. This should be referenced both on your website and in the auto-responder e-mail the customer receives. Whether it’s that someone will hear back within 24 hours, 72 hours, or a week, make that time frame as clear as possible. That will majorly cut down on follow-up e-mails and help customers feel prioritized, even if they aren’t responded to right away. Most customers are able to understand that they won’t get an answer within 5 minutes, but customers will be understandably upset if they’re responded to outside of the expected time frame. Make sure your first response frame is appropriate for your customer service team (getting back within an hour may be unrealistic, for instance) and that the times and days you respond to e-mails are clear, as well. (There’s a big difference between business hours, Monday through Friday, and 24 days a week!)
Number of Interactions Per Customer Case
Ideally, customers’ difficulties could be solved within one simple e-mail. But even if that’s not the case, you want to make your customer service answers as comprehensive as possible. Long, drawn-out e-mail chains with tons of replies aren’t just a waste of time and resources; they’re also frustrating for customers—they may feel as if the agent isn’t being helpful or understanding their problem. It can be confusing on the agent’s side, as well, to try and track a problem over tons of e-mails. Your goal for number of interactions per customer case should be as low as possible so you know your customers are getting the help they need quickly. Agents should be trained to try and resolve the problem as thoroughly as possible, even going above and beyond to provide additional information the customer may find helpful.
Issue Resolution Rate
While you want your number of interactions to be as low as possible, you want your issue resolution rate to be as high as possible. There are going to be times when e-mail just doesn’t cut it and you need to hop on a phone call or even meet up in person. But if a person e-mailed you initially, that’s a likely indicator that e-mail is his or her preferred mode of communication. That means you should try your hardest to resolve the issue there before taking it elsewhere. Try and keep your issue resolution rate high within each customer service platform you utilize. If, for instance, you find the need to take 50% of your e-mailed queries off of e-mail and onto the phone, your agents can likely grow in the area of e-mail communication and become better-trained to resolve more common issues.
Number of Acquired Reviews
According to the available statistics, people who weren’t satisfied with their customer service experience are more likely to leave a review. And that review will be negative. That means companies need to fight extra hard to make sure they’re acquiring positive reviews. After a positive customer service experience, it should be customary for your agents to request a review and perhaps even supply a link to a place like Yelp or Google. It isn’t begging for positive feedback; it’s simply inviting customers to share how they felt the interaction with the agent went on a public forum. You could even create an auto-responder that reaches out to customers automatically a few days after your interaction, although asking immediately and in a more personal manner can sometimes be more effective. Tracking how effective those review acquisitions are can be an important benchmark—after all, if a customer is satisfied beyond expectations, he or she will be much more motivated to leave a positive review.