Our readers answer your email FAQs… From how to perform effective quality monitoring to whether or not you should blend email with other channels.
What should the average email response time be?
- Customer expectation on email seems to be no longer than a day. We tend to get quite a few repeat emails from customers who expect a faster response time than we provide, despite using auto-response to set expectations. – Chloe
- Our customers’ expectation is 24 hours. – Daniel
- We aim to respond within 3 days, but we usually respond within 24 hours. – Raxa
- We give legal advice to people on residential property issues, so some enquiries can be quite long and complex and involve several documents. I think our customers expect to wait a bit longer for such a detailed response. – Shabnam
- Our current response times are around 10 hours, against a 24-hour SLA. – Stewart
- Our SLA is 3 working days, but we usually respond within 90 minutes. – Rowena
Should email be blended with other channels?
- We have a team that deals with only webchat, social media and email. They don’t take calls. – Peter
- I think it is a culture thing. We have a mix of staff that have been here for years and aren’t too open to change, while our newer staff are much more responsive to multi-tasking activities. – Rebecca
- I think that email should be managed alongside social media. This is because we would not be able to run email alongside the phones in our organisation, due to the phone lines being in consistently high demand. – Chloe
- I’m part of a new team set up to incorporate email and social media within the contact centre – so far the blend works well as it enables cross-skilling to be easily managed. – Craig
- I think combining your resources across multiple channels is useful, particularly during busy times. – Katherine
- I feel email should be managed by a separate team. Some agents are great on the phone and don’t seem to type all that well, while others can type really fast and stay on course. In my experience, very few are able to do both. – Mike
- The webchat/social media team deal with general email enquiries, but the other services manage their own emails as they are service specific. – Peter
- I think it is more useful for staff to be multi-skilled so that staff absences are easier to manage. – Raxa
- Our agents deal with the phone lines and email enquiries, as we have quite a small team that would be hard to split. However, we do have a couple of people who are quicker at writing, so I give them a little extra time off the phones to work on it. – Shabnam
- We have a rota set up so a small number of people are just doing emails while the rest manage webchat. This seems to manage it effectively. – Peter
What is the best way to monitor email quality?
- We do between 3 and 5 checks per month for each agent. – Daniel
- We have 300 checks a month from our external QA team and we also internally check new people. – Chloe
- Random selections from each agent are monitored by the quality team, but it’s difficult to truly reflect the agent’s individual quality as so many templates can be used. – Craig
- We perform monthly quality checks on all staff. We also use a quality monitoring log where any errors which are noticed can be logged and reported back to individuals on a weekly basis. This helps us to keep on top of any training needs. – Chloe
- We perform random checks – and all complex emails are seen by a second pair of eyes before being sent to the customer. – Rowena
- We check quality on technical processes, as well as spelling. Agents also get marked down if they do not apologise when a customer is unhappy. – Chloe
- We look at the grammar and spelling, but providing the correct information and transferring the customer to the correct resource is most important. – Mike
- We regard grammar, spelling and punctuation as equally important to the content of the reply. – Rowena
- Each agent’s emails are checked between once and five times a month, depending on the level of service they provide. This is monitored using a scoring template. – Peter
- We place an emphasis on helpfulness. For example, are links used, phone numbers given and people directed to the right area of the website if they require further information? – Craig
- We look at quality as part of our regular one-to-one sessions between our agents and their supervisors. – Rebecca
- The quality team do regular checks to ensure that the templates our agents are using are up to date – and also that any links and phone numbers work. – Craig
- Our team leaders monitor some emails at random and incorporate the feedback into the one-to-one sessions they have with their agents. – Katherine
- Our supervisors check the accuracy of the advice given and then the team leaders check the spelling, grammar, etc. – Peter
- Our bonuses are based on quality. This is a good incentive for all of us to get it right! – Chloe
- Taking the time to discuss “what quality looks like” can lead to great improvements in your processes. The trick is to listen to all angles. – Mike
Do you think webchat will ever fully replace email?
- No, just like you can never stop people from phoning. – Peter
- Yes… As long as it’s the same media channel and it’s free. – Bianca
- No, there’s too much people need to know and too much we send out by email attachment. There may be room for a blended approach, though. – Craig
- At present we don’t even have webchat and don’t find this is a problem for our customers. – Daniel
- I don’t think it will be replaced, but I think social media is going to start to sky rocket over the next year. – Chloe
- No, but it will take a significant chunk of the traffic. – Martin
- I think that it may for the younger generation. – Jonty
- We’re actually trying to move people away from calls and letters into email. We’re not even thinking about webchat yet. – Daniel
- We want to push more calls into emails – not webchat. – Chloe
- We’re currently looking at how cost effective email is compared to calls and webchats. – Peter
- We’ve seen that webchat is replacing calling if anything, especially for our international customers. – Bob
For other trends that have been spotted in the call centre, read this article on what is happening in call centres right now.
How do you transition “phone people” to written channels such as email and chat?