Why You Shouldn’t Email Your Customers From a DoNotReply Address

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donotreply email addressThat marketing email went out! Now you and your team brace yourselves, for all the bounces, the out-of-office notifications, and all the miscellaneous weirdness that comes back in replies.

Unless, of course, you sent from your company’s seemingly handy, unmonitored or ignored donotreply@ email address.

These emails are used throughout brand emails nowadays, from email campaigns to order confirmations. That donotreply@ email may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it’s losing you sales, sending customers elsewhere, and damaging your reputation.

Luckily, your team can handle those emails better—and it’s easier than you think.

Why brands use donotreply emails—and why you should donotuse them

It’s understandable that so many large and small brands use unmonitored @donotreply emails. Instead of devoting limited resources to dealing with an inbox that is perceived as being mostly chaff and little wheat, it’s easier not to deal with it at all.

Trouble is, that marketing email or order confirmation is an immediate touchpoint for customers and prospects. If they have a question, want to place an order, or need help, their first reaction isn’t going to be going down the rabbit hole of clicks and searches to find your preferred communications path. Just like you, those customers and prospects are busy. Busy people go with what’s in front of them—and when your email has landed in front of them, that can often be the first thing they use to get in touch with your organization.

And then? Nothing happens.

In a 2005 study, Bain & Company learned that while 80 percent of brands believed they were providing excellent service, only 8 percent of customers agreed. Things haven’t improved much. The 2018 Customer Service Benchmark Report found that 62 percent of companies ignored customer service emails, and if they did reply, it might be four days before the customer got a response.

This problem extends to @donotreply emails. Instead of getting your customer through the door of your organization, @donotreply shuts the door in their face.

But, the problems go deeper.

A @donotreply email can also damage your brand’s overall email deliverability. Often customers can see that “donotreply” or “noreply” in their inbox. They become more likely to send that email to the spam black hole, which can make it harder for your emails to be delivered. Customer impressions of your brand also suffer. After all, “donotreply” might as well be “don’t talk to me” or “we couldn’t care less,” or “please take your business elsewhere.”

Those customers will be happy to do just that.

Customers do reply for a reason

Presumably, your brand would rather acquire and retain customers, instead of making them want to use a competitor’s services.

The thing is, customers reply for a reason. They got your marketing email and want more information. They got their confirmation, but have a question about their order. They need to contact support for help. The easier your team makes it for a customer to contact you from any touchpoint, the more likely you can close a sale or keep a customer for future business.

Even those bounces, out-of-office messages, or other auto-replies can be useful for several reasons:

1. Bounces can mean an email needs to be pruned from your list. Bounces can make it harder to get your marketing emails sent, so removing bounces improves the overall quality of your list.

2. An out-of-office message also usually says when someone is back in the office. That can help sales know when to target a follow-up call for a prospect in the sales funnel.

3. Auto-replies can also tell you about staff changes, helping your organization keep its contacts current, send a good-luck note to a departing customer, or welcome aboard a new hire at a client organization. Those goodwill notes can lead to sales, better reputation, and increased customer retention.

Better service starts with a better email name

What would be your first impression if you met someone who immediately said they didn’t want to talk to you? Those donotreply@ email names evoke the same response.

The first step to improving service is to make those email addresses friendlier, such as:

  • getstarted@
  • help@
  • shipping@
  • customersfirst@
  • newsletter@
  • fastsupport@
  • Or, use terms that speak to your brand’s mission or specific marketing outreach content (such as “startyouradventure@” or “peaceofmind@”)

These small changes set a better impression in the customer’s mind. Of course, good service is more than a friendly email handle—back it up with solid processes and timely follow-up. Instead of ignoring emails or sending replies to an unmonitored communications black hole, triage emails for efficiency, sales funnel, and faster support.

Auto-replies can acknowledge receipt and offer basic help

90 percent of companies do not acknowledge or inform the customer that they received that customer’s email. You can immediately stand out from the competition just by starting with a simple auto-reply to the customer, such as this:

We got your message and are working on the best way to help. We’ll get back to you at this email, typically within one business day. If you’d prefer a phone call, please reply back with your name and number so we can be sure to reach you.

Your auto-response template could also include some basic support info, such as:

  • An FAQ that addresses common questions, along with a link to your site FAQ section, knowledge base, and/or online resource library
  • Direct phone numbers for specific departments or staff
  • Link to your live chat
  • Links to specific pricing or product information
  • Hours when live support is available
  • A unique request code, so both you and the customer can track status and interactions

The goal here is to start things off with a good customer impression, and potentially be able to resolve their issue without any other response needed. Of course, an auto-reply can’t do everything. But good tools and processes can.

Route, review, resolve

Yes, email begets email, especially as your brand outreach increases and your marketing lists grow. However, the tactical filtering and routing settings available in today’s email organization tools are no-brainer secret weapons for dealing with incoming emails. These tools help you and your team manage email more effectively and efficiently, and help get the right email to the right person in a more timely manner.

It’s as simple as route, review, resolve:

Route emails to the right person or department, based on parameters such as subject line, email address sent to, or other options. Routing emails helps you get the most out of limited resources. Instead of people forwarding an email until it hopefully gets to the right person, the email can more quickly get to the right person to review and resolve the situation.

Review emails in a timely manner. Customers want to be helped not just in a timely manner, but a quality manner. Delegate emails and set team processes and guidelines so that staff have the time they need to dig into and understand a customer’s issue. Get in touch with the customer as needed to ask questions or get other info—they customer will know that you are working on it, and they’ll have a better impression of the brand.

Resolve. Aim to resolve the situation in one reply. That’s something only 20 percent of brands are able to do—so this is another opportunity for your brand to stand out and earn a customer’s good will. Including basic info in the auto-reply can help, but so can thorough diligence and follow-up from the team member who’s been delegated this particular email.

The less back-and-forth needed to resolve an issue, the better all around: The customer will have greater satisfaction, and the organization can expend fewer resources dealing with the situation.

Note that this isn’t necessarily about being fast. The average response time to handle a customer service request is 12 hours and 10 minutes. Can you be faster? Sure. Speed helps, but it isn’t everything. The customer will want resolution in a timely manner—but most importantly, they want their need met thoroughly, with as little back and forth as necessary.

Add a personal touch

63 percent of customers expect personalized communications, according to a 2015 study by Teradata and Celebrus. In addition to emails going to the right people, make sure auto-replies and other emails have a personal touch.

At the least, start with and finish with person’s name—after all, no one wants to know their email is being handled by “Customer Support Team.” They want to know a person is helping them, and they also want that person to know who they are. The team member including their name also helps the customer believe that the organization is sincere in wanting to help them—but this simple confidence boost is something that 61 percent of companies did not bother doing.

Follow up

When you’ve contacted customer service and they’ve helped you, how often have they followed up later to make sure that everything was resolved to your satisfaction? Is your team following up to see if the customer got what they needed?

Probably not. In fact, 97 percent of companies did not send follow-up emails to customers. A follow-up can be quick—but make a big difference.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Simply ask if the problem was resolved the way the customer needed.
  • Ask if they need help with anything else.
  • Send a brief survey and tell them filling it out will help you do better in the future.

Customers want to know that their issue mattered, and that your organization cared about making sure things were taking care of. A brief follow-up can at the least be a reinforcement of the customer’s good impression of your brand. It can also lead to future sales.

For a better brand and a healthier bottom line, doreply

Put in place processes and tools to help staff effectively and efficiently route, review, and resolve different customer emails:

  • Change all noreply@, donotreply, and similar email addresses to something more customer-friendly and brand-positive.
  • Make it easy for customers to reach you from any touchpoint.
  • Use auto-replies to confirm to the customer that you’ve gotten their message, and include some others ways to help that may resolve the issue or answer the question.
  • Reply to all customer service questions in a timely, thorough manner.
  • Try to resolve the issue in as few replies as necessary.
  • Set up email organization tools that help staff filter, route, review, and resolve emails.
  • Personalize sent emails to boost confidence and amplify your brand’s sincerity.
  • Follow up to see how else you can help, or to make sure that the customer got what they needed.

Yes, the @donotreply can seem like an easy way out. But like every easy way out, it’s a bad idea. Especially when so much upside for your brand and bottom line is as simple as an email reply.

Posted in Customer Service, Email

Anthony St. Clair

Anthony St. Clair

Anthony St. Clair is a business copywriter, author of the Rucksack Universe travel fantasy series, and a craft beer writer specializing in Oregon. Learn more at anthonystclair.com.