The Customer is Engaging…Now What?

Written by Chris Lucas on May 22, 2009

Posted in Form Hacks, Lead Generation

We wrap up our 5 Day blog series with a look at what do with your customer once you have collected their information. This is written by Jason Gallic of Email Center Pro. Learn more about Jason and Email Center Pro below this post.

If you’re already managing a crucial component of your online communication technique with Formspring, then congratulations. You understand what it means to reach out to members or potential members of your community.

If you’re not yet using forms for things like initial contact, surveys, event registration or order fulfillment, don’t worry. Now is the time to consider doing so.

And why is that important, you ask? Because aside from the obvious benefit of streamlining information transfer and encouraging customer engagement, what forms really allow you to do is start a relationship.

From the contact page form to the order payment processing to newsletter sign up, a form simplifies the initial encounter and significantly lowers the barrier to entry for those interested in your company or organization.

Initiating this first touch, however, is only half the battle. Once the conversation is started, it’s incumbent upon you to continue it. Not doing so can jeopardize sales opportunities, brand equity and customer or member confidence. And, based on the channel through which information is changing hands, the most appropriate vehicle for continuing or developing that relationship is email.

Email is versatile for many reasons — most of which you already know, but which get lost in the shuffle of negativity that afflicts it. As it piles mercilessly in your inbox, email might look to you like a necessary evil. In fact, if managed effectively, it can provide the strongest building blocks for the relationships you want to create — the ones that will benefit your bottom line. So what’s it going to take to do this right?

  • Reply to messages or submissions: I know this one sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s not. The number of people to whom I’ve spoken who admit to this being an issue might surprise you.
  • Reply promptly: It’s hard to impress an existing or potential customer/member more than you will if you respond to them quickly. Talk about making a deposit in the credibility bank.
  • Reply accurately: Don’t let your need for speed trump the inarguable mandate for accuracy. Failure to do so will mean quickly suffering a credibility withdraw.
  • Build continuity: Email is a chance to create one-on-one relationships. Don’t blow that.

While this list isn’t necessarily rocket science in action, it’s often overlooked in magnitude of importance. What you do with customer engagement AFTER the first volley will go a long way toward determing the degree of loyalty shown to your organization.

But the management of email is not easy, you say. It’s an inexact science. For many, this is true, but it needn’t be. You can bring order to your email, and effectively execute on the four-point list above, by using an email management service that accomplishes the following:

  • Centralizes business-related email messages (those that come into boxes like info@, sales@ and help@)
  • Makes those messages transparent to everyone in your organization
  • Provides collaborative tools for improving the quality of your team’s response

Once your business begins this approach to email, you’ll find an undeniable lift both to your customer engagements and to your bottom line.

Jason Gallic is the Product Marketing Manager for Email Center Pro. He can be reached at jason (at) paloalto (dot) com and directly at 541.284.1221. Email Center Pro is the smartest, most affordable way to provide customer service support and email management. Whether you’re a company of 4, 40 or 400, this service provides all of the tools you need to more efficiently operate your business. With features like message assignment, collaborative notes, contact management and email analytics you’ll increase productivity, decrease operational costs and improve your customers’ experience. It’s time to start thinking about email as actual people.