Article

Your guide to customer service email management software

By Sarah Olson, Senior associate, content marketing

Published March 5, 2020
Last updated July 15, 2020

Despite our cultural obsession with achieving inbox zero, email remains one of the top ways customers reach out to businesses. In fact, 49 percent said email was their preferred customer service channel, second only to phone, according to Zendesk research. Email, if a little perfunctory, has the advantage of being a readily accessible and widely understood medium. Another advantage of emailing customer support is that emails can be sent asynchronously—meaning a customer can send a message whenever it’s convenient, and they can pick it up again later once customer support has responded.

Because emailing is so easy, a shared customer service email account can quickly become inundated. This can be chaos for teams who are trying to manage with multiple users in the same account, resulting in slow response times, missed messages or duplicative efforts—all of which diminish customer satisfaction.

Keeping email under control is imperative to providing a good customer experience. As your business grows, you could consider adding a software platform to help manage email, sometimes called help desk software or customer support software. A more robust customer support software solution for email ticket management offers the advantages of automated workflows, real-time collaboration and performance analytics.

How does customer service email management software work?

Email management software streamlines your customer service email inbox, distribution list or queue into a single interface where you can organize, manage and track customer emails in real time across your entire support team. Customer emails appear in your help desk software as support tickets, which can be categorized and assigned to the appropriate parties or addressed directly by a support agent. The platform is updated in real time, so you don’t have to worry about two agents responding to the same ticket—one of the common pitfalls of homegrown remedies like a shared Microsoft Outlook account or Google Groups.

Once someone on your support team has reviewed a customer email, they can respond using preloaded email templates. Templates generally follow an approved structure, but can be customized by your support team to address specific issues or add a personal touch. Customer interactions with support are more meaningful when they feel human, so go ahead and add those emojis.

Help desk software such as this allows you to bring a data-driven approach to your customer support, whether you’re a team of two or a team of 200. Your customer support data can reveal valuable business insights like common customer issues or channel usage trends. Those insights can inform your strategy and help make processes more efficient. For example, if you’re getting a lot of emails asking how to reset a password, you could consider publishing a self-service article on your knowledge base answering that question in detail. This could reduce your email volume and free up your support team to tackle more complicated questions.

What are the advantages of using customer service email management software?

It’s safe to say email isn’t going anywhere, so it’s important to have a strategy to manage your customer service inbox. Using software for customer support emails has several advantages, including increasing efficiency, facilitating more personalized service and giving greater visibility into customer support data.

Here are a few specific benefits of using an email management platform as you continue to grow your business:

1. Save time

When you embrace a more robust customer support tool, you can take advantage of automated workflows to save your team time. For example, an automatic trigger in the Support Suite allows you to send an initial confirmation of receipt for all email support tickets, allowing your team to focus on issue resolution.

2. Customize your workspace

Instead of adjusting your process to fit the tool, adjust the tool to fit your process. If you choose the Support Suite for email management, your team can customize their support environment based on use case or channel. No code required.

3. Understand context

With customer support software, incoming tickets can be categorized based on product, department, priority or other relevant factors. These inputs provide valuable context for your team, so they can offer support that’s situationally appropriate and improves customer satisfaction.

4. Personalize your responses

Just because you’re using an email management tool doesn’t mean you can’t personalize your customer support emails. Those little details, like using emojis or slang, help humanize your brand. Support software helps you manage email more efficiently, so you can provide personalization at scale.

5. Never miss an email

When you’re using shared tools like Microsoft Office, customer emails are bound to slip through the cracks. Customer support software updates in real time and keeps your entire team accountable to target response times or service level agreements, if you have them.

6. Track results with data

By organizing and tagging emails when they first arrive in your queue, you are effectively creating customer support data. Your team can then use that data to mine for insights about your customers and your service environment. These insights can inform staffing decisions or even influence product developments.

How can you make sure your customer information stays secure with customer service email management software?

When you hear that household names like Target, Home Depot, JP Morgan Chase and Uber (among many others) are experiencing data breaches, you can’t help but wonder about the security of your own business. These breaches diminish customer trust, and they also have big price tags. One study found that the average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million. For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the average loss is estimated to be $120,000 per breach.

Security is becoming a top priority, but that doesn’t make it any easier to implement, especially for those who aren’t tech savvy. When considering customer support software tools, look for the following features that can help keep customer emails secure:

1. Secure encryption of data

In general, customer support software should observe Transport Layer Security encryption protocols for data that moves between its servers and yours. This includes providing the environment for secure, encrypted email when receiving servers allow it. Your support software should also enable you to redact sensitive information like credit card numbers, so no one—not even your agents—will be able to see them.

2. Agent and administrator security measures

A support software platform should have security measures like two-factor authentication, which requires users to enter a code that can be sent to their phone, in addition to their username and password. Administrators should also be able to enact security measures including:
Setting IP address restrictions
Managing the security level of user passwords
Setting defined roles to limit access to administrator functions

3. Third party verification

When vetting customer support software tools, ask if their security has been verified by a third party. This process, also known as third party code attestation, demonstrates that an organization has met a certain set of security standards. It can include an outside organization conducting an audit or proving compliance with a set of standards established by an independent organization.

4. A company culture that prioritizes security

Your service providers should take data security as seriously as you do. If the above measures are in place, they probably have the right idea, but security should be an ongoing conversation. The right partner will understand why security is so important, and they will keep the conversation going long after they close the deal.

Your customers are important—and so is their data. You can’t afford to cut corners when it comes to the security of your customer support. Read more about how to protect customer data.

Email is just the beginning.

Email remains a popular way to contact customer support, but new channels are catching on, giving customers more freedom to choose what works best for them. For example, Millennials and Gen Z report using messaging almost as much as email for customer support issues. Live chat and social media messaging are also popular among this key demographic, although less than 30% of companies offer either, according to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020.

As your business continues to grow, you may want to expand your support environment to accommodate more than just email. Adding new channels like social media or live chat is easier than you might think, and you could gain a competitive advantage by adopting them early.

The Zendesk Support Suite is a customer support platform that scales as you do. It’s an omnichannel customer support software, meaning you can provide a seamless, consistent support experience on any channel. No matter how many channels you have, you’ll have a single, intuitive user interface where you can respond to customer questions.

Email is just the beginning of what we can do together. Sign up for a free trial of the Support Suite today.

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