Newsletter #174 Don't You Want Me as a Customer?
I help organise a charity running event here in Auckland, New Zealand and there are a number of services that we require. One that needs to be sorted out pretty early on is traffic management, as we are going to partially close a road, and for that we need a traffic management company.
Now we already have a quote for this but we may want to seek funding and need two, plus it's always worth checking. So about a week ago I sent off three emails to companies that apparently offer this service. You probably know what comes next because it's happened to you.
Yep not a single reply.
Now it's not a massive job but it's worth approximately $7K - enough to reply you'd think?
It's a huge issue for businesses today because many people will prefer to contact your business this way. It may be at the weekend, late in the evening or they just prefer email or enquiry forms because then it is recorded.
Your business needs processes in place to handle Web-based or email enquiries as, unless you don't want more business, it should be a vital sales channel. So here's what you should do:
- Someone must be responsible for all email enquiries and making sure they're answered within 24 hours
- Your Website contact or quote form should be checked every month by someone with a non-work email address. Make it a process. If they're not arriving or going to spam get your IT or Web person to sort it out.
- Have a process where you and your team can see any actionable email that hasn't been dealt with. You can use a CRM system, make written notes or just highlight the email in your email program. Whatever it is, have a process.
- If your email is swamped by spam so you 'lose' your legitimate email in the flood, again sort it out.
- If there are periods when you can't answer emails quickly like weekends or holidays, setup an autorespond email to let the enquirer know you have received their email and will respond. Then respond.
- If you don't know the answer right away, communicate with the sender, don't ignore them and have the email disappear out of your view. Get back to them with something like 'Sorry the resident expert on partial road closures is away, I'll make sure we get back to you on Thursday when she returns...'
Ignoring a legitimate email enquiry is like, in a retail setting, turning your back on a customer who asks you a question.
It's bad business and it's bad manners.