Originally, a reduction in the number of calls to a contact centre was given as the best reason to implement a customer service email solution. Esteban Kolsky explains the other benefits.The thought was that emails were cheaper to process than a phone call (which is not usually the case), and that would bring about a return on the investment.
However, email can bring about additional benefits when more advanced concepts of email management are implemented.
There are five things you must do to adopt email for customer service – helpfully abbreviated by the acronym EMAIL:
1. Embrace – Have a strategy for email that is tied both to your company strategy and to your customer service goals and objectives. If you don’t ensure this correlation, it will be difficult to provide sufficient support for the email solution, which will either be misused or under-utilised.
2. Maintain – Email requires strict and pre-planned maintenance. Even though the requirements increase dramatically as you implement automation as part of your email solution, even the most basic implementation will require non-technical maintenance related to categorisation, basic parsing, or even tying emails to specific processes. The lack of such maintenance will result in lower usage and potential abandonment.
3. Adapt – The pace of business changes dramatically and periodically; your email system must be flexible and dynamic enough to adapt to that. Systems that are planned, deployed, and intended to be single-use and single-purpose are not seen as valuable business tools. Organisations that properly view technology as a tool to aid in solving business problems have embraced the fact that these tools must be adaptable to ever-changing business needs.
4. Integrate – Email should not be used as a stand-alone solution. So ensure that the email solution becomes part of the larger multichannel, multifunction implementation.
5. Leverage – Some components span the different channels of customer service processes. Business rules, for example, should not change based on how a problem is resolved, regardless of the channel the customer chooses. Business-rule repositories should be leveraged across the different processes and channels. Similar approaches should be taken with items such as knowledge repositories, databases, back-office and front-office systems, and corporate compliance rules and regulations.
Always establish a long-term strategy for email with clear objectives that are closely tied to both corporate and customer service strategies. Have clear business rules and strong knowledge management in place, as well as an understanding of where email sits as an additional technological tool to achieve the goals of your strategy. Finally, by taking a slow, methodical approach to email, you can expect clear benefits and results.
Esteban Kolsky is Vice President and Practice Leader at KANA’s strategic services subsidiary, eVergance