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Email Support: Are Your Agents in the Danger Zone?

This post was originally published on the MKCallConsult Blog.

We talk a lot about monitoring phone interactions between Customers and our Agents but from my Consulting experience, not enough quality coaching is focused on monitoring Email communications.

Many of our best phone skill Agents are poor writers.  We are dealing with different skill sets for verbal and written and need to plan for hiring, training and selecting those who will have to do both communications with Customers.

As part of my skills coaching, I often review emails for quality and customer experience.  The Manager or Supervisor will pull these for me with a few comments about an Agent having “strong” writing skills or not.  Not much else is said.  When asked if they have a skill monitoring for the emails similar to how they review calls for quality, most of them say no.

I highly recommend setting email quality expectations, how you will review for quality and then train and coach your Agents to meet those expectations.

Here are a few of the email skill Danger Zones that Managers need to watch out for:

  1. Too much Agent personal chat in emails: I’m all for rapport and empathy, but should your Agent mention their surgery or flat tire to the Customer.  Unfortunately some Agents love to bare their souls in emails which can be quite embarrassing for your Company and take focus off of the Customer and their needs.  Let the Customer tell you about their problems, not the reverse.
  2. Misspelled words/ poor grammar/ poor etiquette:  We all work with systems that have spell or grammar check but apparently some Agents ignore these or don’t have enabled.
  3. Adding quirky clip art in Signatures or quotes:  Where do you draw the line?  At one client’s email review session, I found an Agent who had added pink prancing ponies below her signature.  Another had political quotes that made it very clear where she stood on issues.
  4. Lack of any signature details:  Signing Mary Smith alone doesn’t tell me if you are an Agent in Customer Service or work in Accounting.  Make sure your Agents have the appropriate contact information you want them to display at the end of emails such as name, title, company, phone number (and extension if appropriate) and company email/website and other information for marketing purposes.
  5. Rambling emails and jargon:  An email written to a Customer by an insurance Customer Service Agent went on for two pages of “insurance-ese” technical talk.  It clearly meant nothing to the Customer based on her email back to the Agent the next day.  The Customer  asked the Agent to call her to discuss instead of writing as she was confused.  A one contact resolution opportunity became two emails and a call to solve a relatively simple problem made complicated by the Agents writing style.
  6. Inappropriate Jokes to Internal or External Customers:  No explanation needed here.
  7. Too Direct Style: These are Agents who write as if they are the dictators of their own small Service country.  YOU WILL ….  YOU MUST… (yes, some even write a sentence in Caps just to make sure the Customer knows they mean business).

What is my best advice for Agents before sending an Email? First, read it out loud since emails do have a “tone” of voice based on word choices and sentence structure. Second, never email a response to a Customer or co-worker if you are angry or upset. Save a draft, then calm down and read again.

For More Customer Service tips and sharing, please join me on Twitter: @mkcallconsult or visit my website.

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