Dear Customer Service: Show me you love me

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A poorly designed customer service email can easily cost you a customer. When designing your customer service communications, gain a true outside-in point of view through Contextual Research methods. Your customers love your brand. Show your customers you love them too but taking the time to truly get to know them.

If I send you an email, you would answer me in email. You would never email me back and tell me to call you – that’s rude. If you felt it was best to talk in person, you would at the very least call me – right? It’s logical social norms of human interaction.

Example of Poor Customer Service Email from Keurig

Example of Poor Customer Service Email from Keurig


This is why so many companies fail at customer service—because they don’t follow these very simple and obvious social patterns. They sit in a conference room and construct elaborate phone and help desk systems that take all the human interaction out of their customer service and replace it with technology. They do this to save $$$$. In the end, it causes them to lose customers and revenue.

Yes, email is technology but that’s the tool. I email you and I (like 66% of people) expect a personal response via email — not a computer-generated message to call you. If I wanted to call you – I would have called! Yes, my reaction is emotional because this is personal. In my ongoing customer service battle with Keurig, Keurig has once again failed to provide the customer service I sought and now I have retired my BROKEN machine and returned to my Bodum coffee press. I am emotional because I had a relationship with Keurig, I loved my Keurig, but when I reached out the second time, once again my affections were spurned.

Example of Great Customer Service Email from Poster Revoluntion

Example of Great Customer Service Email from Poster Revoluntion


When designing customer service systems, too many companies have an inside-out mentality. They assign a committee of internal staff, they scrutinize their process and design improvements, they think about what’s best for them—not what’s best for the customer. These teams need an outside-in point of view. They need to step out of the organization and look at it through customer-colored lenses—Real Customers. Too many companies rely on interpreting survey data, or mining open ended text on social networks, or conducting focus groups stuffed with people with an opinion, not your true range of customers. This research is good, and very effective for many uses, but if you want your customers to fall in love with your brand—and stay in love via your customer service teams—then you need to dig deeper.

In user experience design, as well as market research, there is a valuable method called Contextual Interviews. In a Contextual Interview you go to your customers—in their home, at the store, or their place of work—and you observe how they interact with your product and your company within their own setting. I once assisted Pam Maifeld of Incite on a market research project for Herbal Essence. We visited young mothers in their homes. We sat at their kitchen tables, shared coffee and talked but Pam did not stop there. She asked the moms to take us to the bathroom and talk further about their Herbal Essence experience—some women actually stepped into their showers and described to us their routine and how important Herbal Essence was to their shower pleasure. Now that’s Incite! (Pun intended.) This technique helped Pam and the Herbal Essence team understand their customers in a deep and meaningful way, it uncovered learnings that no survey or focus group ever could.

Contextual Interviews are surprisingly easy and affordable for companies at all levels. I personally find it much easier to go to customers rather than try to get them to a focus group facility—and I learn so much more. Plus the customers are thrilled that you are seeking their direct and personal feedback. So before you call one more meeting to improve your customer service process, get your team out of the conference room and into your customer’s home or place of business. Learn from your customers and inject the human element back into your customer service—and your email design!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Raelin Musuraca
Customer Experience Strategist, Musuraca LLC
Raelin Musuraca is versatile and energetic customer experience strategist with twenty years practicing marketing, digital strategy, and user experience. She has led multidisciplinary teams in the development of award-winning marketing and customer engagement programs.

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