Our clients often come to us asking to help their company become more customer friendly and then expect that they will respond to email quicker. On that last one, we may let them down, deliberately.
As a customer, I would like to be taken seriously. That does not mean that you need to respond to an email instantly (otherwise I would have called). It means that I expect you to deliver what you promise. And one of the big issues with email and other digital forms of communication is that our promises and performances are often ill matched. “Please leave a voicemail with your name and number and I will get back to you as soon as possible” …. and I never heard back from then since.
Our customers rely on how well we collaborate, with them but also with colleagues. And of course, communication is the oil to that engine. I would rather hear from a supplier or colleague “Thanks for calling, you can NOT leave a voicemail. Please text me if it is urgent or send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org” and then when I do, the person acts accordingly. Now that is professional customer friendliness!
The Email Handyman
Communication Channel Chart
Great to hear from you. How can I help?
Is it urgent?
Call me, call me, text me, text me, and then find out from my colleague that I am in training and they will ask you if they can fix it for you (we know it can’t wait, you said it was urgent).
Is it important?
Mail me the details, so I can work with them correctly. But not until after you spoke with me about how important it is, and why it is important. I might tell you to add some detail to your email briefing so we can get a better result. I might tell you to talk to someone else for a better result. Now, I understand that you understand that we both understand that it is one was the important one??”.
Is it for my information?
Really? Do I really really need to know about it? Ok then send it to me please. But not via CC or Reply-to-all. Just forward the info with a brief remark at the top why I am getting this so I can process the information efficiently.
Did we win?
Yeeeaaah, let’s celebrate. Jump on your desk, set off the fire alarm and broadcast it in our group app for instant gratification. Of course it could also be celebrated in a weekly or monthly update. But does it need to be in everyone’s mailbox provoking dozens of congratulations and thank you’s … well … avoiding those is why we started the group app in the first place.
Do you expect a response?
When? How? What? The more explicit you manage your expectations the better I will be at meeting them. Put questions and tasks at the top. Use the right channel for effective follow-up. Let me know when you need it and please give me some head warning so I can do a good job at planning it alongside my other promises.
And yes, of course I will treat you the same way :)