On the social web, managing customer relations is one of the most vital skills any internet businessperson can possess. While ten years ago, managing email could have been a secondary consideration, today it is absolutely vital to keep customers and clients in the loop through rapid, prompt email support.
Of course, the level of care and attention that you need to devote to customers ultimately depends on your business model. Service businesses will always need to devote more time to emails than product-based businesses. Similarly, affiliate sales will always result in less customer care than direct product-based sales. Despite these differences, there are some important email management tips that can apply to any online business.
1. Limit your daily email quota.
There is a limit to how little you can check email before people become upset and generally annoyed. We have all ran into a email-once-per-week type businessperson before, and it is never a positive experience. Then again, there is no point in spending every waking minute checking and responding to your emails; you end up getting nothing done, and your business quickly grinds to a halt. Aim for the mid-ground, check emails once in the morning, once at midday, and once before you leave the office for the night. Any more is overkill, and any less lets down your major customers and clients.
2. If you get a short reply, be understanding.
It does not feel good to write a long email to someone, only to be greeted with a one-line reply when you return to your inbox. Of course, there is a good reason for the incoming email to be short. Most people, especially the type that attract hundreds of emails per day, are incredibly busy, and devoting time to emails would mean that they could not manage the rest of their day. If you want to build a relationship with a busy person via email, remember that they are dedicating some of their time to you; a little bit is better than none at all.
3. Make it easy for people to opt-out.
If you run an online business and you are not sending out regular communications to a mailing list, you are missing out on hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of potential sales. Mailing lists are the bread and butter of online recurring sales, and with a great email marketing strategy, they could bring in extra income for your online business. However, remember that not everyone is interested in recurring mailing lists, and that many people will want to unsubscribe. Do your part and make it simple for the to leave, should they want to, and they will reward you with good organic PR.
4. Keep in touch with regular customers, clients, and contacts.
Sooner or later, you will begin to find that around 20% of your clients will bring in 80% of your business. It is a split that is fairly common amongst service businesses, particularly those that operate in a relatively slim niche. When a small group of people are responsible for most of your cash flow, you want to do everything possible to keep them buying from you. Keep in regular contact, and if a long time goes by without an order, remind them that you are there to help.