Phoenix, AZ, Aug. 13, 2008 — E-mail is the foremost method of communication used in business, but utilities must not let it become a path to destroying customer relations, says David Saxby, president of Measure-X, a company that specializes in helping utilities improve their customer service and sales.
“Unfortunately, because of its abuse and misuse, e-mail does more damage to customer relationships than any other form of communication,” says Saxby. “E-mail may be causing you to lose customers.”
Saxby offers the following thoughts on e-mail in the workplace.
Be sure e-mail messages are clear. It’s important to be sure that the message sent in an e-mail is as clear as if you were talking to that person, Saxby says. “When talking with someone, we have the advantage of using our voice to convey a specific emotion or humor,” Saxby notes. “We lose that advantage with e-mail. Written words often do not convey the same message as spoken words and, thus, the written word is subject to many different meanings and interpretations, some of which can be damaging.”
Come across as professional. It’s important to be sure e-mail communication is professional at all times, according to Saxby. “Every e-mail is a direct reflection of your professionalism and your credibility,” Saxby says. “Each message should meet this standard.”
Read the message first. Read the message out loud before hitting the send button, Saxby suggests. “Does it sound courteous, friendly and respectful?” Saxby asks. “Saying such things as please and thank you sends a caring message. This can go a long way toward building customer loyalty. When sending an e-mail message, remember that there is another human being receiving it. This person is just as busy as you and has feelings.”
Use common sense. Not every e-mail should be sent just because it is written and waiting to go, Saxby says. “If you don’t want your e-mail appearing on the cover of USA Today, don’t send it!” Saxby says. “Re-write it until is it an appropriate message to send.”
Issues and e-mail are a bad mix. E-mail does not necessarily address and quickly resolve customer issues, Saxby says. “Face it, e-mail offers too many opportunities for miscommunication and misunderstanding,” he says.
Follow-up calls are OK. If customers request e-mail communication, utility employees can still call them to confirm that their information was received, Saxby says. “Even a voice mail message will help build a stronger customer relationship,” Saxby notes. “For example, you can leave a message saying, ‘As you requested, I have e-mailed the information about your inquiry. Please let me know if you have any questions or need additional information.'”
Want to stay Current? Listen to Currents: The Energy News Podcast brought to you by Utility Automation & Engineering T&D and Electric Light & Power online. For a list of all available episodes, click here and start listening today. And for more news and exclusive features from Utility Automation & Engineering T&D and Electric Light & Power online, please click here.