JOHANNESBURG – August 19, 2019 – In today’s fast-paced, highly competitive markets, attracting new customers while retaining existing ones requires a meticulous approach from companies. It has become clear that in a connected world, customers expect a positive experience and outcome every time they interact with a company. Whilst this has become more complex with the advent of new technologies such as social media, chat bots, AI and instant messaging, one stalwart remains, yet many companies still drop the ball when it comes to what many expect to be the easiest channel through which to enhance customer experience – good ol’ email.
In this article we share five tips that can enrich the productivity of your Email Management department to improve overall business results. These tips are based on the collective experiences of numero and local partner, Intuate Group.
Manage resources and escalations
“If we saw this email sooner and responded to the customer in a timely and appropriate manner, we wouldn’t have this problem.” Even though these types of issues should no longer be an issue in customer centric organisations, it still proves to be a common problem.
The problem is intensified where teams are using a shared inbox, as employees’ take time to cherry pick the messages that require a minimal or repetitive response in an effort to clear out work items. Unfortunately, this results in the deprioritising of difficult or complex queries which leads to a delayed response to the customer and ultimately, not meeting SLA’s.
Two things can be done to eliminate the aforesaid issues. Firstly, identify cases requiring extra focus and consideration using a real-time view of operational performance. Being aware of unresolved emails within your SLA will make delegation seamless and efficient. Secondly, automatically distribute urgent emails to employees, eliminating the possibility of them ignoring complex cases.
Focus on quality and consistency
Email remains a preferred channel for many customers and it is important for organisations to align the quality of tone and content with the essence of their brand. Timely responses that are personalised to customers’ needs are the expectation, yet many customers do not receive the experience that they expect. How can this be rectified?
- Enable consistency for all communications – Start by creating templates with placeholders for personalisation. In addition, ensure that employees have access to all customer and case information via a centralised managed location. This will ensure that the information in your correspondence aligns with the information that the customer receives from other touchpoints, whether it be online or in-store.
- Manage customer expectations – Provide timely acknowledgements and regular progress updates, preventing the customer from having to make contact for an update.
- Ongoing communication management – Have a QA process in place, ensure regular template updates and review select outbound communications to ensure that consistency and brand essence is maintained.
A software solution that offers a toolbox containing suggested template responses, built-in spelling / profanity checks and multi-language support services could prove to be a great aid in ensuring quality and consistency.
Automate simple tasks
Multitasking can impact productivity by up to 40% due to the fact that our mind needs time to adjust in order to work efficiently. The economic consequence of this can be vast in addition to an increased risk of human error.
In the context of work emails, this is easy to relate to. It is human nature to tackle the easy mundane tasks first, deviating from strategic initiatives. These days, machines should be able to handle automated processing, leaving teams to focus on handling more complex cases.
In order to achieve this, your Email Management solution should be able to identify ‘simple’ emails, categorise, and prioritise them. After this, you can apply your business scenarios and let the system handle the responses. For example, if a customer is seeking a status update or if their query can be addressed via one of your identified FAQ’s.
This automation should be extended to trigger proactive updates, reminders, and follow-up actions – meaning nothing gets missed, thereby reducing inbound contacts.
Keep an eye on things
It is imperative for managers to have access to accurate and real-time operational management information, yet many still spend countless hours collecting and analysing information before they can make sense of it. Manual report generation is error-prone, time consuming and a far cry from real-time.
With an email management software solution, managers are empowered with real-time information that will allow them to:
- Know exactly what their teams’ workload and throughput is
- Easily compare and contrast work changes during specified periods and date ranges
- Identify top performers and those not performing adequately
- Identify contacts that are at risk of breaching SLA’s
Being able to do these things should be a given, however the ability to ‘keep an eye on things’ goes beyond simply having accurate information. It’s also about having escalation processes in place that avoid problems with work not being processed due to holidays or sick leave; and proactively flagging high risk items in a timely manner.
Manage processes with context
Handling customer interactions is a complex task, regardless of whether you are in the front or back office. It requires the ability to switch between customer situations, having an understanding of all historical interactions and navigating between multiple systems; all whilst maintaining customer focus, handling the interaction as quickly as possible, and trying to exceed the customer’s expectations whilst correcting their problem first time.
It is common practise for organisations to have 2-3 weeks’ classroom training, followed by 1-3 weeks of on-the-job training. Even after this, it can still take 3-6 months to become reasonably proficient. The problem is that what employees are tasked with doing, often isn’t intuitive. This is why, when implementing an email management system, process management with context is so important.
The following points are all key for any organisation looking to implement an email management system:
- All information that relates to a current case must be available on a single system so that employees don’t need to switch applications or navigate multiple screens for basic information.
- Information must be captured in a structured manner, with validation around the service request to reduce the need for unnecessary follow up communications.
- Use workflow and case management to model and manage the end-to-end process so the business process is easy to follow, and allows tracking through to successful completion.
- Try to identify repeat tasks which could be automated via workflow.
- Expose a complete view of the contact history that relates to the current case across all channels, enabling an omni-channel view of the customer journey – meaning the customer never has to repeat themselves.
- Consolidate all previous customer engagements, events and cases outside of the current engagement, and provide easy access for employees.
What this really points to is a single integrated employee desktop with omni-channel and case management capabilities. One system for all employees, creating a Single Customer View, where they can perform any task for any customer.