We’ve all had this experience: you send an email message to an organization, and you never hear back from them. It’s a story as old as the Web. Why don’t organizations respond? They typically cite excuses like resourcing, workflow and so forth.
It’s 2007, and every organization on the planet understands the limitations of email. Yet, many still publish an email address as the exclusive means of contacting them online. The most recent culprits I’ve found are BC’s property tax office and British Jet (a nightmarish organization for the customer service, incidentally).
A web form is a slight improvement, but most of these exist solely to make life easier for the organization–they reduce spam. On the back end, form queries usually just get sent by email, so the result is the same.
There is a better way. It’s simple, proven and cheap. Most of all, it makes life easier for organizations and customers, and it demonstrates a commitment to service.
I’m speaking here of the lowly support ticket system. You submit a query via a web form, and you get assigned a virtual ‘support ticket’, a number which enables you to track your conversation with the company. In my experience, even the automated response is a huge reassurance. I suddenly have confidence that my issue’s in the support queue, and that it will be answered. And it usually is.
The organization gets more efficient, and can do useful things like add answers to the public knowledge base, reducing the number of future inquiries on the same topic.
World of Warcraft Europe has one. I’m sure they receive thousands of queries a day, but I got my obscure question answer in 48 hours.
There’s a zillion such systems out there, and they’re super cheap or free. They’re certainly not a panacea, but they will make your support staff more efficient. In my anecdotal experience, I’ve received far more reliable support from companies with support ticket systems than your bog-standard email address.
More importantly, they show that you actually care what your customers think. An email address, on the other hand, sends a very clear message: “bugger off, we can’t be arsed.”
I was looking for an appropriate photo to accompany this post, and happened upon this awesome one. “Help me, Obiwan, you’re my only hope!”