Improve Customer Service Using Reminder Emails
In today’s competitive business environment you need to take every opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competition and constantly strive to better serve your customers. There are many ways to use email to serve your customers including sending welcome messages, newsletters, receipts and special offers. One type of email that is sometimes overlooked and is another way to serve your customers and improve communication is a reminder email. A reminder email is used to help a customer remember to take advantage of a special offer, redeem a coupon before expiration, recognize a birthday or anniversary, or for upcoming appointments. Not only does a reminder email give you an opportunity to enhance the communication and relationship with your customers (especially if appointments are made well in advance), it may also lead to an increase in conversions.
As an example of how this type of message is used, I recently made an appointment to get my vehicle serviced and received the following reminder email from a local Honda dealership. The communication with the Honda dealer began by me calling their service representative who was courteous and attentive. Once a specific time was agreed upon to service my vehicle, the service representative asked for my email address and explained it was for sending service reminders. The day before my service appointment, I received the reminder email with information specific to my vehicle, service time and services requested. The message received is a great example of both good and bad practices that you should be aware of if you currently send reminder emails or are planning on sending them in the future.
- Good subject line. It lets me know it is a reminder email and my service appointment is near.
- The Honda logo is located in the upper left part of the message and the dealership name is in the header, which helps me to recognize the sender.
- The appointment time, vehicle information and confirmation number is displayed directly below the header and is easily viewable. Including this information is good way to confirm which vehicle is being serviced, especially for families that have more than one vehicle.
- A nice touch to any reminder email is to use some form of personalization. Using a full name or first name depends on the type of relationship you have with your customer. Depending on your business, a more formal greeting of ‘Mr.’ or ‘Mrs.’ [last name] may be appropriate.
- The dealer thanks me for my business. Let your customer know how much you appreciate them.
- The services being performed are listed, although they should be written in descriptive language instead of service codes.
- A link is provided to make adjustments to the appointment or schedule new appointments online, which provides a point of contact for my convenience.
- A phone number is provided as an additional point of contact for my convenience.
- There is a space for directions which includes the address of the dealer. This helps to ensure your customer goes to the right location if there are multiple locations in your area.
- It’s always good to provide your customer an option to unsubscribe so they are less likely to click on the ‘this is spam’ button.
- The friendly from address was unrecognizable. I had no idea who this sender was and was about to click on the ‘this is spam’ button until I noticed the subject line. Be sure to include your brand name in the friendly from address to improve recognition.
- Black letters on a dark blue background are difficult to read. White letters on a blue background or a more visible color combination would have been a better choice. Color combinations that are easily readable will help ensure your customer gets the right information.
- The time of my appointment is incorrect. While for this service appointment the exact time is not as important, giving out the incorrect time can lead to a poor customer experience if it causes someone to show up at an incorrect time or forces them to contact you to confirm the time of service.
- I’m not sure why my vehicle’s estimated mileage is listed. I’m sure it is useful information for the dealer but has no relevancy to this message. Be sure to give relevant information to the service being performed.
- If you are reminding the customer about a service appointment, be sure to use descriptive language and not internal service codes that have no meaning to the customer.
- There is a lack of spacing between sentences and I didn’t actually use their online scheduling system. And, there is a missed opportunity here for a personal signature from a service representative. These are small details, but small mistakes and missed opportunities can affect a customer’s impression of your company.
- Telling the customer to not reply is a missed opportunity. Not only would it be convenient for me to reply to confirm the service appointment time but mailbox providers factor customer replies in to their filtering decisions. A subscriber that replies to your email in most cases has a relationship with you or your business and gives mailbox providers more comfort that you are less likely to be a spammer.
- Directions weren’t actually given to the dealership location, only an address. While I know how to get there based on my previous history, they might want to list the two main cross streets or points of reference for new customers. Another option is to provide a simple map if the design space allows for it and doesn’t clutter up the message. Ensure you send the correct location information if you have multiple locations.
If you are sending a reminder email or are planning on sending one in the future, be sure you test it to check the copy, design and presentation of the information for accuracy. Make it easy for customers to get back to you using the method of their choice and encourage customers to reply to emails. Most of your customers will appreciate this type of message but always give them an option to opt-in before the message is sent. Lastly, remember the little details such as spelling, grammar, spacing and readability to help re-enforce your professionalism and reliability. A sloppy, inaccurate email may lead some customers to question the quality of your product or service.
About John Pollard
John is a Senior Knowledge Strategist at Return Path. He is dedicated to building and maintaining knowledge and content assets to help marketers maximize the value of their email programs. John believes that sharing knowledge feeds the imagination, fosters collaboration and empowers people to grow and evolve. He has been in the email marketing industry since 2008 and has consulted numerous businesses and ESPs on deliverability and email optimization. Prior to joining Return Path, John worked in the finance industry with roles in business analysis and system administration.