Customer Service Netiquette
Friday, 4.45pm: time for one last check of your email inbox before taking off for the weekend. It's been a long, frustrating day . your headache is getting progressively worse and you can't wait to get home, put your feet up, have a drink and watch some TV.
There's a message - a complaint - something about your company's product (or service, or receptionist, or fees). You immediately feel a shiver down your spine, a knot forms in your stomach, and the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
"WELL EXCUUUUUUUUSE ME!" you fire back, just seconds later. "IF YOU'RE SO UNHAPPY, WHY DON'T YOU GO AND FIND ANOTHER COMPANY TO BOTHER THEN!"
In a matter of moments - you realize afterwards - you've managed to not only offend (and probably lose) a customer, but also potentially damage your company's reputation with other customers and rival businesses, as well as the general public.
This is because, unlike a phone call or face-to-face meeting, an offensive email can be forwarded (again and again and again) to other recipients, literally at the touch of a button, who can just as easily forward it again, and again, and again.
Brad Bond, a director at IT support company Invizage Technology, says situations like this are becoming increasingly commonplace because "the ease and speed at which we can now communicate via email has become one of its greatest downfalls. This can often lead to people making careless mistakes, sometimes with disastrous consequences - such as information being communicated in writing that could be construed as representing the company's viewpoint, or binding the company into an agreement."
As a result, a number of unwritten laws associated with the writing and sending of online messages - a concept loosely defined as 'netiquette' - have emerged.
"The content of a formal message should be structured in much the same manner as you would a letter, beginning at the 'Dear X' line," says Bond. "There is no need to include the date or other address information that you would normally include. Signoff should be as per a letter."
As such, details such as company name, sender's name, sender's job, contact details and even signatures can easily be added to the bottom of every outgoing email. In fact, an email signature automatically added to the bottom of every outgoing message can actually become a powerful advertising tool, especially when someone forwards it many times.
For more guidance on how to provide outstanding customer service, contact us about the Towards Awesome Service training program for your team.