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Stop Treating Customers Like Prisoners

Keeping Staff | November 1st, 2018

Have you ever had the unpleasant experience of sending an email to a company and then receiving an instant response in which you have been assigned a case number?

You receive a first response as ticket#974. You are later informed that case ticket#974 has been escalated, to then get an email saying that case  ticket#974 has been closed?

Why are case numbers even used?

My view is that they are completely redundant and remove any personal touch a company could create when communicating electronically with customers.

Prisoners are referred to as numbers.  And if you send in a policy claim, insurance companies assign you a case number.

Do you really want to risk making your customers feel like prisoners or people involved in the stress of dealing with an insurance claim?

You don't have to settle for this anti-customer system!

It’s not that there is something wrong with keeping someone informed about the progress of their awaited response.  In fact, the right brand of helpful reply is widely appreciated.  If you are aiming for a customer centric approach, however, using technical jargon doesn’t make sense, not to mention doling out case numbers.

Ditch case numbers and technical guff.  Instead, respond to your customers with a message as personal as the kind you write to a friend.  Devise every email to address customers in a personal manner.

Take care to ensure that each email response sent to customers is like a casual communication between two people who are acquainted with one another.  Avoid making customers feel that they are being managed by a customer service department that doesn’t care a whit about them.

And please, do not make your customers have to register in order to read the reply of their inquiry! If you are like me, you hate having to register to new websites. So please do not make it compulsory  for your customers to register to simply read an answer to a question they’ve asked.

But, don't customers want to know the progress of their issue?

Yes. As I said letting customers know that their requests for support have been received or that the customer service department is currently busy dealing with prior requests is a good thing.

Just don’t include case numbers, and don’t format your emails with things such as “–Please respond above this line—“ or “Support request powered by XYZ TICKET SYSTEM.

Simply acknowledge the customers’ requests; and encourage them to send an email if they have any questions, such as what the status of their response is.  Here is a good example:

Hello, (name), and thank you for contacting us.  We got your request, and we’ll get back to you in the order your request was received.  We look forward to helping you resolve all questions or problems you may have.  In the meantime, feel free to email us regarding further questions or a status update.

When you or your customer service agent responds, write to the customer directly, as in the following example:

Hello, (name), and thank you for your patience.  I read your request, and the best solution is (etc.) 

Is it still possible to track an issue without a case number?

Sure, the way you manage the flow of each conversation should still be trackable.

The system you use which keeps track of inquiries, of who responded, and whether the request has been escalated to someone else can be in place, but it’s not information you need to unload on your customer.  Keep track of the internal data, but keep it hidden from the customers.

So what is the best way to respond to customer support requests?

At Keeping.com, we know there is a better, more customer-friendly way to handle the flow of customer messages, which is why we offer something new.  We've built an invisible ticket solution which has all required features for internal management of support requests while at the same time focusing on making each customer feel unique, with one-on-one communication.

So which do you prefer?  Would you rather be assigned an impersonal case number or be addressed by your first name in a customer service response?