Here at SendGrid, we not only send billions of emails a month on behalf of our customers, but we’re also responsible for sending emails to our own customers. Over the years, the email team (known as Nurture and Conversion internally) has juggled the art of sending out mass email communications while responding to customer replies.
We want to share our experience with you along with suggestions on how to approach recipient replies and what constitutes a good response. From fun responses to tricky questions, this blog will help you solidify your customers’ trust and create an open line of communication between yourself and your oh-so-valued customers. Believe us when we say, it’s worth it…
1. Make sure you have a reply-to address
First and foremost, it’s important to include a reply-to address. A reply-to address is the “From” address, coming from you, that allows recipients to receive your emails and reply back. Not only does a reply-to address help avoid customer confusion and frustration, but it improves your email deliverability.
A reply-to address will show your recipients that you are on the other side of the computer, and care about their questions, comments, or concerns. By setting up this capability and paying attention to your recipients’ replies, you can improve your email strategy or learn from potential email mishaps (we’ve all had them!).
Having a reply-to address can also improve your deliverability. Email Service Providers (ESPs) often identify reply-to addresses as legitimate sources–in other words, not spam. However, if you have a no-reply address, both ESPs and your recipients might mark your email as spam, having lasting effects on your deliverability. We can’t stress enough the importance of having a reply-to address to steer clear of spam and boost your customers’ overall experience.
2. Be timely
Now that you have a reply-to address, it’s time that you consider…time! We understand that having a reply-to address might sequentially result in your inbox being flooded with automated replies from recipients. However, taking an hour or two out of your day to look at every response ensures you don’t miss important communications that truly matter to your customers.
Try to avoid having your customer wait for multiple days before you respond. Typically, our team tries to respond within 24 hours or sooner of getting a reply. Consider periodically rotating who is in charge of your reply-to inbox, to avoid fatigue. If you anticipate not being able to respond on weekends, we suggest setting up an automated response during weekends, letting your customers know you will be back on Monday and providing them with an urgent number to call in the meantime.
Responding in a timely manner shows your customers that their needs aren’t taken lightly and that you appreciate their willingness to reach out. It will also prompt recipients to associate your brand with a good experience, resulting in higher customer retention.
3. Show compassion when receiving negative replies
Here’s the not-so-fun (but worth it!) part–responding to negative replies. Our first recommendation is to take every negative reply with a grain of salt. Customers who send negative messages might be having a bad day, or don’t anticipate a real human actually reading their messages.
Understand that this is a learning opportunity for both you and your team. That being said, not all replies may be worth responding to. Trust your judgment on deciding which replies are fit for a response and which replies can be left alone.
When responding to negative replies, show compassion for your recipient. Even if you may feel indifferent or disagree with the customer’s message, continue to put your brand’s best image forward.
To establish a relationship with your recipient, make sure your responses are personalized. We suggest including your first name, the recipient’s name, and “I” as much as possible. For example, you might start off your response with something like, “Thank you for reaching out, recipient’s name. I apologize for your difficulty.”
Once you feel like you have addressed the customer’s comment or concern to the best of your ability, make sure you offer further assistance in case they still need help.
For example, you could end your response by saying, “Please do not hesitate to reach out again with any questions or concerns by replying directly to this email.” This follow-up sentence builds trust and ensures your customers feel comfortable communicating with you.
4. When applicable, forward a reply
Although we strive to answer customer questions to the best of our ability, we want to recognize that it’s not possible to answer every question that comes into the inbox–especially if these questions are super technical or account related.
Forward any tricky customer questions or sales inquiries to other employees or departments that can use their expertise to better assist your recipient. Align with any stakeholders who will be involved with this process to coordinate and agree to who will respond to what types of questions. Here at SendGrid, we forward technical account questions like “How do I get rid of this IP?” and “I forgot my username and password, can you help?“ to our Support Team.
We also forward sales related questions such as “Can I speak with someone to talk about the benefits of upgrading?” to our Sales Team.
Don’t have a Support or Sales Team? Don’t worry! You can forward messages to colleagues who have proven their knowledge of the topic your recipient is inquiring about. Or, you can address the question or concern yourself with a little preparation…you’ve got this!
5. Respond to positive feedback
Not only is it important to respond to negative replies, it’s equally as important (and fun) to respond to positive replies! Recently, SendGrid sent out a highly personalized email, Your Year In Email, highlighting our customers’ 2018 email performance and statistics. After hitting send, we received an abundance of positive replies.
In this type of situation, show your recipients some love and let them know they made your day. This positive communication will help you establish a relationship with your recipients, put a friendly face behind your emails, and create a positive brand association. Oh, and pat yourself on the back, you deserve it.
6. Use some of SendGrid’s pre-prepared responses
We’ve created some pre-prepared email responses below to help you get started responding to recipients. Copy, paste, and tweak them as you please! You can even tailor these responses to be specific to your style of writing or your company. We recommend saving your most frequently used responses to a document and sharing them with your team to create a quick and efficient response process.
- “Hello, recipient’s name! My name is your name. Thank you for contacting us. I am happy to help…”
- “Hi recipient’s name, thank you for the reply. I am sorry for the confusion….”
- “I am sorry for the inconvenience, recipient’s name. I am happy to help…”
- “Hey there, recipient’s name. Thank you for reaching out!…”
- “Thank you for your response! Please forgive us…”
- Hey, recipient’s name. Thank you for reaching out! I am happy to provide an explanation…”
- “I look forward to resolving this issue with you!”
- “As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with further questions or concerns.”
- “Let me know if I can point you to additional resources or get you in touch with our Support Team!”
- “I’m here to help! Don’t hesitate to reach out again with any questions or concerns by replying directly to this email. I will get back to you shortly.”
- “I hope I was able to answer your question. If not, feel free to reply directly to this email and I will further assist you!”
Make sure you’ve established a reply-to address to open the door to direct customer communication. It could take some time getting used to, but work with your team and your colleagues to build an action plan around owning responses. Use your best judgment when it comes to who you respond to–positive replies deserve a response, too!
Regardless of the situation, always put your best image forward and avoid letting your customers wait multiple days for a response. By doing all these things, we’re sure you’ll eliminate customer distrust, improve deliverability, and make for happy email recipients. Plus, think of all the things you’ll learn along the way!
Need help setting up a reply-to address? We’ve got you. Check out this tutorial in our Knowledge Center.
Need more convincing? Read our blog post, Do Not Reply Email Best Practices, for more facts on why a reply-to address is so important.