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How to handle people replying to your marketing emails:

by Colin Nederkoorn

Every time you write an email to your customer, it’s an opportunity for you to get feedback and strengthen that relationship. But as your business starts to scale, how do you handle the volume of reponses? You might be tempted to switch your email address to “noreply”. Please don’t do it.

Sending emails from “No-reply” is the death of your customer relationships.

One thing you can do to handle the volume of replies is to split replies among different people. You could give each customer their own contact within your company. Then when they reply they get the same person every time.

Another thing you can do is aggregate all the responses in to helpdesk software. I’d recommend using helpdesk software that is invisible to your customers. When they reply to you, you wouldn’t want to send them an automatic response with a ticket number.

Why send replies to your help desk?

You might be thinking to yourself, “I’m handling all the replies anyway – why put them in the helpdesk?”

Stripe recently talked about how everyone has access to every email within their organization. I’m advocating that at least for customer replies, you want to bring communication in to one place.

  • New hires can get up to speed fast
  • Everyone on the team can passively stay up to date
  • It makes it easy to spot the same person contacting you through multiple channels
  • You’ve got history and someone covering for you can pick up the conversation.
  • You’ll be able to track things like response time to see if people are slipping through the cracks

I’ll show you how we handle this. You could set up something similar with your tools in about an hour today.

3 steps to getting it set up

  1. Create a support inbox for customer replies to emails
  2. Set up forwarding for those replies to your helpdesk software
  3. Respond to customers from the helpdesk

What tools to use?

I’ll show you screenshots from Google Apps and Helpscout, but you should be able to accomplish this with your email provider and helpdesk.

1. Create your support mailbox

First, here’s a look at our Helpscout Dashboard:

helpscout dashboard

To keep things simple, we didn’t go overboard with creating mailboxes. “Replies to Colin” handles replies to the newsletter and replies to customer onboarding emails. In both of those cases, we send the emails from me, and often use the address colin.n at customer io.

2. Forward the email

Most helpdesks work by giving you a really long email address that you forward support email to. To wire everything together, you just go and forward your helpdesk email (in this case colin.n) to the helpdesk address.

In google apps, to do this the easiest way is to create a new group, and add your long helpdesk email as the member of the group.

Forward email

3. Handle replies like a boss.

If you get too busy and won’t be able to reply to you quickly, a colleague can take over and still deliver awesome customer service. If I’m stuck in a meeting, John or Asha can jump in seamlessly. Rather than everything flowing through my private mailbox, the team can see all previous customer conversations as and is up to date.

We were really excited when we got this flow set. Handling replies to emails can be tricky, and a little chaotic. This gives us structure and metrics. Importantly though, it’s not at the expense of the the experience of people hitting reply.

How have you tackled the same problem? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Happy emailing, Colin

P.S. Are you in NYC on the evening of Tuesday 26 February? I’m teaching “Write emails your users will actually read”. Last time I taught a class people seemed to get a lot of value out of it.

P.P.S. 177 people responded last week to say they were interested in a community to discuss email. It’s up and running, and if you responded, you should see an invite today.

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