If everything is equal, the methodology you apply for professional email support can be the difference between you and the competition. Let's be honest, your business email support is definitely not where you want to be outperformed. Offering best-in-class professional email support gives you the competitive edge!
Business email policy
If you have more than one person responding to customer service inquiries, best practices for professional email support require that you have a solid policy in place.
Having an email policy ensures that all customer support personnel are on the same page and know what is expected of them.
Take a second to consider why you need a business email policy.
In addition to your policy, create a step-by-step outline on how to deal with both satisfied and dissatisfied customers, including verbiage for when to escalate if necessary. Setting guidelines and creating templates to respond to customers in various situations is key. Create several typical scenarios to start, then expand your email templates as patterns form. This enables you to offer prompt, customer-centric responses with your professional email support.
Professionalism with your professional email support
Let's cover each component of the messages you send out with your professional email support.
Specific addresses for customer service
Using an address firstname.lastname@example.org is much more professional than hotmail.com, gmail.com or yahoo.com addresses. This allows each email to be clearly from your company while building credibility for your brand. Better organize your customer support efforts by setting up the appropriate addresses for other activities — like billing@, sales@, etc.
The subject field is the window into your email and can many times determine even if your email will be opened. Be sure to craft a short, properly typed subject line that clearly indicates what the topic of the email is (YourDomain.com Inquiry). This will make sure that your reply is recognized.
Level of formality
Try to avoid the assumption that email by its very nature allows you to be informal in your business communications. Only time and relationship-building efforts can guide when you can be less formal in your email's tone.
This is your business's image you are branding!
Communicate at all times as if your customer service emails are on your company letterhead. This means black text and standard fonts, too. No abbreviations with proper punctuation and sentence structure.
Cc and Bcc
Use the Cc field in your professional email support to bring others into a discussion that requires everyone be on the same page. The Bcc field can be used for internal contacts that you would like to inform — without exposing their email address to outside parties.
For professional email support, the Bcc field can also be used for an archive address to keep all communications on hand in one email box.
This is helpful if multiple personnel are communicating on customer service issues. Each would then Bcc the archive address on all support emails thereby storing a copy in that designated archive box for future reference if need be. Examples could be archives@, custsupport@, esupport@, etc.
Reply to all
Use this button with discretion! You need to carefully think about whether "all" really need to be aware of your reply in order to conduct business. Always prune the addresses from any field to only those to which your comments will apply.
Start every email by greeting your customer by name Hello, Jane or Hey, John. Then start by thanking them for contacting you. Review before sending to confirm that you addressed their questions and concerns point by point.
Close by letting the customer know how you can be reached if they have additional questions followed by noting your name above your signature file.
In your zeal to impress a potential new contact, you send them a 10MB PowerPoint presentation they did not request. What if they do not have PowerPoint? What about their data allowance? Not a great first impression.
Never assume your potential customers have the software or resources to open any file you may arbitrarily send.
If you need to send large files or combination of files, zip them or use a service like DropBox. Always ask the recipient first if it is OK to send any files. Next, confirm they have the same software and version you do and the best time of day to send it. Refrain from sending large attachments without warning, on weekends or after business hours.
All involved in your professional email support should use the same signature file. Limit your signature to name, website link, company name and phone number.
Do your best to respond to your professional email support communications as quickly as possible — not at your convenience or when you get around to it. This is a customer service issue that should never be underestimated.
By not responding promptly, you might be viewed as unorganized — or worse — risk being outperformed by your competitors who understand the importance of appearing efficient and on the ball.
Customer service texting
Never text for business without asking for permission to do so. Even with permission, refrain from texting outside of business hours unless your customer service issue is time sensitive.
Closing thoughts on professional email support
There you have it! These basic best practices for professional email support will certainly allow your business communications to rise above the majority who do not take the time to understand and master these issues.
The hallmark of professional email support is to be consistent and have a professional tone from the start of every communication to the last character typed.
This applies whether you are a sole proprietor and the only person responding to customer inquiries, or have a staff doing so on your behalf.
When forging new business relationships and solidifying established partnerships, the level of professionalism and courtesy you relay in your business customer service email communications will always gain clients over the competition that may be anemic, uninformed or just plain lazy.
Remember, each business email you send is an opportunity to impress!