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This is Part Two of a series entitled “Email: This Is How We Do It”. We’re going to chronicle, over three days, a day in the life of an Email Center Pro power user (how’s that for stretching a concept?). So sit back, relax and take a look at Email Center Pro in action (popcorn sold separately).

Yesterday we looked at some of the inner workings of a Monday morning. Now we’re heading toward lunch, when we tackle the mound of messages waiting for our attention. At this point, the morning settles into a more predictable pace.

10:30 AM Palo Alto Software sells a lot of product that’s transmitted through download, and it seems like there’s a never-ending supply of customers who have lost their serial numbers. Frankly, it’s amazing how many people can’t keep track of a 20-digit number. Good thing we have templates that allow us to plug the unique information into a pre-written message. I can’t imagine how long these emails would take us, and how tedious it would be, if we had to write the same thing over and over again. We’ve crafted responses for all the lost serial number scenarios that come up, and a quick look at our template library shows that these are all amongst the most used.

Back when I started working here, templates really helped me get up to speed so that I could answer customer’s emails quickly and with confidence. During my training days, my colleagues picked emails they knew could be addressed with templates, and assigned them to me.

I’d look at the email and decide which template I should send. I’d  put the name of that template in a note attached to the email, along with any special details that I thought needed to be included. Then I’d assign the email back to my trainer, who could check to make sure that I had selected the right message. She’d leave me notes and reassign the email to me to take action. And after the fact, she could search the archive for all email I sent to double-check that I had handled everything correctly. I remember being impressed by the usefulness of this every day tool, even for a beginner like me.

11:00 AM Replies to my first round of emails start coming in. They’re automatically assigned to me, so the customer will be getting a consistent message and will see that the same person is here to help them resolve their issue or answer all their questions. And since nobody has to assign those emails to me, or read through the whole thread to familiarize themselves with the issue in order to respond, it saves us time. A win-win situation for us and our customers.

Sometimes a message will come in auto-assigned from a customer who is replying to an email we sent them months ago. Often its about something completely unrelated. I think the customers enjoy feeling as though they’re sending an email to an actual person. Today I get one that begins “Hi Jay…” and is a reply to — what else? —  a serial number request that I answered back in January. The customer is asking for upgrade information. I happen to see her message moments after it arrives, and I respond promptly with the link she’s looking for.

She writes back almost immediately, telling me she’s going to upgrade on our website right away, and adding a nice compliment about my responsiveness. Something that was quite simple (ordinary, in fact) for me really added to this customer’s impression of our company. I tag the email Kudos, to add it to the long list of kind remarks from customers. It’s fun to periodically look at all the emails under that tag and read through all the nice things customers have to say about us. Building an “Atta Boy” file is just good for morale.

11:30 AM Uh oh, a phone customer is having trouble with his software. He says he’s been emailing with Technical Support but their solutions aren’t working. I get his email address and do a quick search, which lets me see all the emails he’s sent, as well as our replies. By reading over the messages, I can save him the trouble of having to tell me all the details of his problem and what Tech Support has had him do so far. I go over the last email with him, and together we realize that he missed one of the steps. He goes through the process again, doing the missing step, and his software is up and running. Problem solved.

Seems like a good time to head to lunch. My daily peanut butter and jelly sandwich is calling to me, and it’s abeautiful day outside. A snack and a walk will have me refreshed and ready to take on whatever the afternoon has to offer.

Tomorrow, you’ll find Part Three of this series, and another hearty helping of email management insight …

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