I remember the hopes we all had for the paper-free office. They seem a little naive now of course. But then others are talking of email marketing with fully automated contact with customers. It is theoretically possible but as with the paper-free office, is it worth the effort?
The trick is to aim to cut down the number of calls and emails but to accept that there is no hope of absolute zero. The main difference of email marketing is that there is no-one to question at the early stages, no counter staff to explain what the brown lever is for and no way to ask if it will also fit the Mark 1.5.
Those involved in email marketing have to strike a balance between sufficient information on the marketing email and the need to concentrate on selling rather than informing. You have to accept that whatever you choose will be wrong for some customers so they will want to contact you.
It is a constant regret of email marketing that the frequent in frequently asked questions does not describe how often the page is referred to by those on your email lists. One option is to have a specific type of automated reply to new customers.
You probably send out an automated acknowledgement of an order. You could state that as they have not used your company before they might find the explanation of your policies and procedures useful. ‘Please see below.’
You can mention at this time your preferred method of contact should they wish to ask any questions. If this is email then tell them that it is the quickest way for them. Say what your average reply time is.
That said, a barrier only keeps out those who do not really want to get through so you should have procedures in place to answer that telephone call. Just asking brusquely, “How did you get this number?” is not in the best response if you see your future in email marketing.
If your email lists are on the short side you could consider allowing customers to choose their preferred method of contact. This historically gives excellent customer satisfaction but it does not stop you lobbying for email. Hype the modernity of it, tell them that you have invested a considerable amount in your infrastructure to ensure that the time for reply is amongst the quickest in the business. And if a personal reply is preferred then it can be you who phones them back, emphasising the care that you take with your customers.
You might consider instructing or recruiting specialist staff to answer questions that arise from email marketing. Customers certainly prefer asking someone with in-depth knowledge. Such specialist can often identify problems with your systems.
However, most companies move on to multi-skilling eventually. It is generally cheaper, despite the additional training, and it reduces handing over of problems, especially if the caller has more than one specific query. Many successful companies boast of their one-call solutions, and for good reason.