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The concept of the Email Fail is simple — with its presence everywhere in our lives, there are countless ways that email can fail us. Sometimes it’s simple human error, sometimes simple technical error, sometimes a bit of both. Whatever the cause, some of the most common email fails can be avoided with a little advance planning (a touch of Email Center Pro wouldn’t hurt either…). In part one of this two-parter, we looked at the dreaded auto-reply and the fails that can result. Today we look at another area where email can fail you — the Customer Service Email Fail.

The first email fail that comes to mind when discussing customer service is the Never Checked email address. This happens when a company, in an effort to stay current and accessible, offers a service via email that they can’t support. Examples of this are the pizza chain that lets you order via email and the vet clinic that provides online scheduling.

In both of these stories, customers thought they were saving time and being efficient by doing their business via email. And in both cases, they were treated as though doing so was just unheard of. Which is really weird, considering they didn’t make up the services or email addresses they were trying to use — they were offered on the companies’ websites!

It seems too obvious to say that the best way to avoid this type of email fail is to not put an email address out there for the public to use if you don’t intend to check it. Set up alerts, put a sticky note on your monitor, write it on your forehead — whatever method you chose, if a customer might be sending you an email to any address, CHECK the address regularly!

Another type of email fail is the good-old Pass the Buck fail. This customer service failure isn’t unique to email, in fact it’s one type of failure that has made the transition from in-person to the virtual world pretty much intact. Here’s an example of a company that’s perfected the Pass the Buck fail.

This one is pretty easy to avoid as well. If an email arrives at the wrong destination, have a behind-the-scenes way to get it to the right place! Once a customer has emailed you, they should never get a response telling them to call or email somebody else.

Finally, there’s the Employee fail. Sometimes an employee just ‘goes rogue’ and there’s no recovering. In these cases, being able to search a sent message archive to see what your employees are up to might help you determine if anyone is on the verge of a major Employee Failure, though there’s really not much any email software can do to help you prevent it.

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