11 things to consider if you use Outlook for your customer service

11 things to consider if you use Outlook for shared email folders

11 things to consider if you use Outlook for shared email folders

1: Are response times influenced by internal factors such as: “Who’s doing what?”

How long do you need to respond to an enquiry? Is it the shortest time possible? Or is the time affected by, for example, employees who have to assess whether a case should be dealt with by department A, B or C? What does it mean for your company if you can reduce response times by, for example, 20 or 40 percent? Does the customer have a better experience, and if so, what effect will it have on the bottom line?

2: Are the right employees responding to the enquiries?

If today you use a solution with shared email folders, there may be challenges ensuring that each employee is (only) presented with the enquiries that match their qualifications. In many cases a common email folder requires a manual search/flagging/transfer – this means risking errors as well as a lot of manual tasks before an employee with the right skills is tasked with the enquiry.

3: Do you prioritise enquiries in an intelligent way?

Who determines the order in which enquiries should be processed – the employee, the Team Manager or is there no prioritisation.....? Could it be that it is not always the customer who has waited the longest, who will be answered next? Priorities are difficult, but necessary.

4: Can you easily see the history of customers with enquiries?

What does it mean for the experience, as a customer in your company, that the employee who helps the customer with the query is already aware of previous dialogue and is fully aware of the customer overall? With a solution such as Outlook, the full history can be difficult to assess and when creating transparency between e.g. a CRM system and Outlook, a manual process of “copy & paste” is often performed to determine whether you have enough information about the customer.

5: Are you actively using your history for additional sales and customer retention?

The amount of data your company collects from customers – do you use it proactively to plan, assess employees results, record the amount of additional sales or simply measure the customer satisfaction in relation to the effort.

6: Do you have an overview of the data for enquiring customers? The GDPR?

According to article 17 under GDPR: “The data subject has the right to have personal data about himself deleted by the controller without undue delay” How do you handle it when a shared email folder has a great deal of information about the many different customers who inquire? E.g. social security numbers, health information, addresses and other person information? And do you even have a plan for a customer to invoke his rights under Article 17

7: How much time do you spend on enquiries that could have been avoided?

How often do you get asked the same questions? “When are you closing today?”, “Can I return an item?”, “Can I stop by to pay my bill”? How many of these questions could be avoided if there was a “solid” FAQ on the website that helped customers even before they contact you?

8: Do you write the same reply, over and over again?

How many enquiries could be answered with predefined standard responses? Are you already using standard templates (disguised as auto signatures) in Outlook, maintained by the individual employee or perhaps stored on a file server – are they used, or do employees start from scratch every time they have to reply to a customer?

9: Do you have a predefined process for how to escalate enquiries?

An enquiry has reached a deadlock, and it is necessary to involve to a manager or a specialist – typically by simply forwarding the email? — does the customer follow up in the meantime, does the internal correspondence stop as part of the reply to the customer, does the customer get an answer at all, who/ what and how much time is spent on “pairing” responses to forwards with the original message from the customer......

10: Do you forward customer enquiries to experts in a sound manner?

Do you today use specialists or other resources outside the organisation to help with enquiries? How do you ensure that only the information necessary to resolve the request is forwarded? How can you document that previous correspondence (e.g. in an Outlook thread) is not unintentionally shared? There are many options, but if you have to manually clean up every email that is forwarded externally, a disproportionate amount of time is easily spent.

11: Do you have the necessary security in the communication?

Many companies are assessed on their IT security, such as the ability to safely process, transport and store personal data. With an Outlook-based solution, compliance with the GDPR is often based on manual workflows/training of employees and these non-automated basic rules for processing represent a constant risk of getting GDPR cases with customers.