We know that customer service cannot be an afterthought when so much customer decisionmaking is affected by satisfaction levels. But we’re not all going to be able to answer customer service requests within 10 seconds via a live video support session like Amazon.

So how can smaller operations provide top-quality customer service? Find ways to anticipate your customers’ needs and focus on personal service. Use your data and automation to pinpoint customer needs and then use live staff to ensure a personal response. Remember that it’s all about that right blend of automation and human input: automated-only response systems offer only about a 10-20% resolve rate.

Today we’re going to look more closely at one option for finding this right blend of speedy and personal customer service: automated customer service emails.

Automated Email to Proactively Address Customer Needs

Use a triggered email system to infuse a connection between your customer and customer service. Try some of the following:

⋅  Welcome emails. Send a triggered email to new customers and site visitors as both a way to give and get information.

⋅  Personal welcome message that informs the customer how to get in touch. Let the customer know up front that you customer service is available to answer questions and invite them to connect. Think about offering a greeting from a particular employee, using a conversational tone, that reinforces a sense of human connection.

⋅  Ask the customer about their interests. Ask the customer what interested her in the company’s products or what particular service the customer is looking for. Use an option that permits a fast and easy response, such as asking the customer to simply select from 5 options. Then use the information to segment your customers and provide future updates and information in their areas of interest.

⋅  Triggered emails based on browsing behavior. Proactively address problems that lead to abandoned purchases with follow-up emails to certain browsing behavior. Did a customer visit certain FAQs or did they search your help database? Create a system that sends a follow-up email asking if the customer needs any additional help if they fail to complete their purchase. Consider sending specific help documents or information in response to certain triggering search inquiries. Show your customer that you want to quickly resolve their concerns.

⋅  Follow-up satisfaction emails. When your customer has interacted with customer service, you want to double-check that they are satisfied with the service they received. Send an automated email that allows a customer to quickly respond with their level of satisfaction.

⋅  Use a human follow-up for negative responses. Don’t just send a follow-up email and fail to actually follow-up. The automated post-customer-service email is not just for gathering information, but also for proactively reaching out to customers who are unsatisfied. Make sure that your system is set up to notify the right response team when a customer has outstanding concerns.

The importance of ensuring that your automated system is supported by a sufficient number of live customer service agents cannot be overstated. When using an automated email system, plan for live intervention to address the data you gather from automation. Use this combination to expand your customer service abilities, but never forget to focus on quality.