Today’s heading could just as well have run for last week’s post about using multiple inboxes for different purposes. And in fact you could argue that customers should get two inboxes – one before they become a customer (with your CRM inbox), and a second inbox once they have bought your product or service.
Why should your customers need their own messaging system once they’re on board? The simple answer is so your business can provide them with the best service.
Great service is a mix of fast response times and high-quality information. If you or your staff respond quickly to a customer inquiry, such as wanting more information about the product they have bought, you have an opportunity to demonstrate competence and professionalism. This will build confidence in your brand and lead to repeat business, up-selling or at the least referrals.
But for all that to happen you need to see your customers’ emails first. If they are buried in your inbox, or auto-filtered to a folder that’s rarely checked, your customer is likely to feel forgotten. Forgotten customers tend to solve this by taking their business elsewhere in the hope of finding someone interested in them.
Most businesses just use personal emails to communicate with customers but this can create problems when an employee goes on holiday or leaves the company. Typically someone has to go through their inbox and find important emails, or set up a redirect to another employee.
One alternative is to give out a single email for all customers such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and direct it to a help-desk app.
Help-desk apps are used by support personnel the world over to keep track of customer complaints or requests. While they have a long history in call centres and telcos and banks, the help-desk app is also appearing among SMBs wanting to improve the quality of their customer care.
The driving force for using a help-desk app is that good-quality service is effectively a sales tool for driving repeat sales. And as everyone as heard, it’s much cheaper to sell again to an existing customer than to find and win new customers.
Some businesses are using help-desk apps commonly used by tech support teams such as ZenDesk. A crop of newer apps for the non-tech crowd include Help Scout, Support Bee and Apoio (BoxFreeIT contributor MC Carter has compared these apps previously).
Customers can still email you as before but now their requests go to a centralised inbox which every authorised person in the business can access at any time. It opens the door to adding a first-stop support person, such as a receptionist who can handle small queries such as copies of invoices, changes of address and so on.
Some CRMs such as Salesforce.com and SugarCRM can manage support as well as sales. (These are two of three branches of enterprise CRM; the third is marketing.) The advantage of integrating support and sales into the one program is that salespeople can easily see whether a customer has been in contact with the company. Those support emails might include opportunities for up-selling or cross-selling, or just a heads-up if the customer has had problems and will likely give the sales executive an earful.
Most businesses don’t know what the left hand is doing from the right. If you are making your business’s sales and are unaware of a customer’s emails because they are buried in a staff member’s primary inbox, then maybe you should re-evaluate a single-inbox policy.