Why customer service emails are like a fine wine

Let’s face it, we all know that, no matter how technologically advanced we become in this crazy AI world we live in, customers will ALWAYS want to interact with a real human being at some point, especially if their enquiry or query escalates into a ‘situation.’

And you & I also know that human interaction “face to face” (F2F) is the best kind there is and it’s followed very swiftly with speaking to people over the ‘phone.

However, in between what some now see as an ‘the old-fashioned’ means of communicating (the ‘phone) and the weird & wonderful stuff AI can do from a CX perspective, we also have the new big boy on the block – social media & online chat. I mean, just trying to keep up with customer interactions across these particular channels can be really thirsty work.

Over the past five years, online chat has moved from being an added extra to becoming an integral part of the customer service mix. Consumers are starting to understand how chat operates and understand the speed it offers in answering their queries.

And then we have the accessibility of Facebook and Twitter. Most people have an account and can tweet or post in a matter of seconds. It’s seamless and a logical means of communicating in this modern digital world, especially if there’s a rant to be made!

The question is, where does this leave our old trusted friend, who compliments the human interaction of the telephone so beautifully – the humble email?

Laptop on desk

Technology evolves at such a rate these days that it’s hard to comprehend that the first email management program was developed back in 1972. However, despite originating the same year Donny Osmond released Puppy Love , it remains a certified banger in the customer service mix. And here’s why…

The stats don’t lie!

Email might not be the sexiest communication channel available, but there’s no escaping the stats. As it stands, there are 5.59 billion active email accounts worldwide, which is way over 50% of the world’s total population. In total, 247 billion emails are sent every day, equating to one email every 0.00000035 seconds. Coincidentally, about the same time it takes me to divert myself out of the room the minute my lads start discussing politics!

More specifically, consumers like email. In fact, findings taken from Eptica’s Digital Customer Experience Study reveal that customers actually prefer using email than Twitter and Facebook, when they want to speak to a customer support representative.

Yet, despite this fact, only 52% of companies offer email, down from 64% in 2019 and a high of 70% in 2017. This is particularly true with banks and insurance companies.

What makes this revelation worrying is that even though a lot of businesses are continuing to favour customer support on Twitter and Facebook, they’re failing to deliver the fast response times customers demand on those platforms. To be precise, Eptica’s report states the average response time is 1 hour and 36 minutes on Twitter and 36 minutes on Facebook. Yet between 25% and 28% of people expect a response on both social media channels within 5 minutes.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a love letter declaring my eternal love for email communication. It’s just a reminder that great customer service starts by listening to what your customer WANTS and shifting your approach to meet those demands.

WE may think email is dead & gone, but the facts and stats prove differently, and we must be proactive in our response to customer needs and demands – it’s the ONLY way to build a truly loyal and raving fan-base.

Admittedly, the average cost per email interaction service stands at £3.89 compared to £3.39 for chat and £3.18 for social media. But when you consider the fact that telephone calls cost £4.53, there’s definitely a strong argument to keep email in the mix.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”

I see email as a fine wine. Yes, it’s old. However, it’s something we all love and what most of us need after a long day at the office, especially if we have something important to get off our chest!

Email is still important to those customers who don’t have the time for long call queues in the Contact Centre or to engage in online interaction or wait around for slow responses on social media. It’s a timeless selection in the omni-channel mix – a Domaine de la Romanee-Conti if you will.

However, it’s snubbed by the masses because they only see the price tag and the age, not the value it brings. The remedy to this problem is through education and sharing knowledge. The only way your customer support team will use email more quickly and know what they have to say, is if they’re given the right training and have a strategy in place to help them flourish. It’s like sticking someone from the bakery aisle in the wine section at your local supermarket and expecting them to suddenly become wine connoisseurs. Sure, they may love a glass of wine while they watch Celebrity MasterChef, but the chances of them knowing what bottle goes perfectly with a steak tartare are slim.

You must teach your team to buy into the power of email. For example:

• Introduce a blueprint by providing a set of automated templates and guidelines on how to respond to customer queries AND ensure the language used and the tone & style of writing mirrors & matches the spoken word – this ensures you communicate as ONE brand, whether that’s F2F, over the ‘phone, online or through the written word.

• Show your staff how to identify a sales opportunity when a customer gets in touch.

• Invest in an email response management system to automate certain messages and buy your team some more time.

But most importantly, incentivise speed and accuracy. If you dangle a carrot and encourage everyone to drink in their moments of success, you’ll build a team of email connoisseurs, who love to transform customer brand perceptions from ‘half-empty’ to ‘half-full’.


Until next time….keep FIT!

Best regs

Marie x

Hello... I'm Marie Cross

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