Four Tactics for Handling Customer Service Emails (And Getting Them Out of YOUR Inbox)

When I first start working with clients, there are some common processes that they often need help with. One of these processes is figuring out a way to get out of the inbox and stop spending so much time on customer service emails.

I’ll start by saying that giving up being the one to respond to everything can be tough. Sometimes, you’ve been running things solo for so long that it’s challenging to just hand over the reins to someone else. You’re worried that they won’t answer the way you would, or they’ll miss something.

But the stark reality is that if you’re going to be a visionary leader and grow your business, customer service emails are not something that should be on your plate.

So how do you successfully transition this task to someone else and get it out of your hair for good?

Let’s take a look.

You Have a Team – Use Them Wisely

A while back I was discussing this exact issue with one of my clients . She had given the task of handling customer service emails to someone on her team, but there were mistakes being made and the way the team member was communicating wasn’t as effective as she would have liked. 

Now, my client had already done some leg work where she had documented some of the most frequently asked questions and answers (and this is one of the things I always tell clients to include in their customer service manual). However, because the team member wasn’t familiar with the back end of some of the systems their customers used, so sometimes the ability to deal with all the little nuances just wasn’t there.

On the surface, it may seem like the answer is to just train all employees on all systems, but you have to ask yourself:

  1. Is it worth the time investment to train certain staff on systems they won’t ever use except to answer occasional questions?
  2. If you do train them, will they have enough knowledge to understand all of the system triggers?  Is it realistic that they’ll be able to learn and remember that when you do A then B.C and D happen, which then affects E and F?

In most cases, the answer to both those questions is NO.

So instead, you need to find some tactics to handle the customer service emails that doesn’t involve you just doing it yourself.

Consolidate Your Tools and Platforms (If Possible)

For those of your managing groups or membership sites, managing customer service emails can be an even bigger undertaking due to the sheer volume that you receive. People joining, people leaving, people needing technical support, people with questions — all this adds up to TIME.

This was the exact situation my client was in, spending one to two hours a day handling this stuff. And when you’re the CEO, there are so many other things you could be doing!

In my client’s case, she was managing a membership site along with an accompanying Facebook group, so looking for options to try and consolidate made sense. Instead of having multiple places people go to get information, complete course work and have discussions, a lot of time could likely be saved by having all those things housed in one place.

The fact is, the more platforms, tools and groups you have for clients to use, the more questions they will generate.

By choosing to move to Kajabi, her membership clients had a one-stop-shop they could use, and it also saved time for her team. Before, when someone canceled their membership, the team would need to close down the account and then remove them from the Facebook group.

Now, when someone cancels, Kajabi automatically removes them from the forum.

Additionally, it’s much easier to document FAQs for the team when it’s all originating from one system.

How to get customer service emails off your plate once and for all

Templates for the Win!

When you support a large group of clients or a community, there’s no way you can completely get away from receiving customer service emails.

One of the things I know that both myself and my clients have experienced is emails that aren’t related to a specific tools, but are more general in nature. They may have one or two questions, but they’ll also include a ton of personal details and background.

Now, I want to say upfront that building great relationships is a critical component of running a successful service-based business. Of course we need to support our clients, but HOW we support them can make a big difference when it comes to how much time we spend handling emails.

For the questions that come up frequently, one thing you can do to save a ton of time is create some reply templates that include the answer to the question, along with a list of links for resources that are applicable to their question.

Then these templates can be used by whoever is managing the inbox and you don’t have to get involved at all, unless it’s a one-off type question.

If you aren’t even sure what your frequently asked questions are, it’s time to start keeping track. This can be as simple as creating an doc where your team can add questions, and you can

Train Your Clients That You Aren’t the Only Resource

The old adage “we teach people how to treat us” certainly holds some weight when it comes to the interactions our team has with clients. When we, the leader, is the person they get answers from, they come to expect that we will always be their go-to person.

Now while this may be unavoidable when you’re a team of one, as your team grows, you’ll need to get your clients used to heating from other people on the team.

Even if your team has to come to you for guidance on customer service emails, the answers to the client should still come from them, not you.

One tactic you can employ with your team to keep yourself out of the inbox is to have them track questions. Instead of you going into the inbox and falling down the rabbit hole, or having them forward customer service emails to your inbox, create a document when they can add daily questions they need your input on.

Then, establish a timeline with your team so they know when to expect your replies to be taken care of. I suggest having time put aside  once a day where you simply review the questions, provide the answers, and then leave it to your team to respond to the emails.

When responding to the emails, your team can let the client know they checked in with you regarding their question. This will show your clients that you’re still in the loop and providing support, and that your team can be trusted to ensure they get what they need.

Direct Inquiries To the Mailbox

This may seem like a small thing, but it’s something that can make a big difference if you’re feeling bogged down by customer service emails.

Look at your website and any other avenues people have to contact you. Where do those emails go — is it directly to you, or the customer service inbox?

If they’re going to you, you need to change that ASAP.

Should you need to start fresh, there’s nothing stopping you from setting up a brand new email address that you monitor and control who the address is given to. Then set up your current email to redirect to the customer service inbox and let your team handle it accordingly.

Or, if you want to ensure that the replies come from the same inbox they were originally sent to, you can provide access to your team, while you use the new email.

The more you’re willing to take a step back and let your team handle customer service emails, the better equipped they will be over time.

Delegating Customer Service Emails For Good

While you’ll likely never be completely removed from dealing with customer service emails, by employing some different tactics you can greatly lessen the burden on you by handing this over to your team.

Making these changes isn’t just about taking this task off your plate so you can spend more time on high value tasks that help you achieve your business goals.  It’s also about empowering your team to handle things themselves and not relying on you so much, which is critical if you want to grow and scale your business.

This transition won’t happen overnight, but with a little time and perseverance, it will be well worth the effort!