I’ve had a draft article about how to get good customer service lying around for months. I did write something similar back in Aug 2006 about calling 800 numbers, but I keep thinking I should rewrite it to include how to write an effective email.
You ask, “Why?” The easy answer is, I’m on the receiving end of many similar emails. Additionally, I see so many rants in the AC forum about Associated Content being unresponsive. I can honestly say, Associated Content has never been unresponsive when I emailed a concern. Does AC love me more than you? No. AC gives priority to clear, concise emails with enough details to address the problem. That’s the kind of email that gets a response.
You don’t have to take my word for it. The following block is straight from the man who handles all of AC’s incoming emails.
1. BE SPECIFIC. If there is one specific article you’re having trouble with, tell us the title. If it’s already published, having a URL of the live content will help IMMENSELY, and will let us fix the issue faster for you. It will also help EVERYONE on the site, as we will be able to move more quickly between issues.
2. Don’t just rant. You would be shocked at how many emails I get on a daily basis that are just rants, which really don’t give any information. “YOU NEED TO PAY ME FOR THIS ARTICLE” does not describe the problem you’re having. We want you to have a positive experience at AC, but if there is an issue that’s keeping you from getting paid, once again, we need specifics.
3. Be nice. Ultimately, we’re all on the same team here. Every day, I remind myself that what’s best for the CP’s is best for AC. We’re not on different teams, we’re not playing against each other. AC is really not trying to “pull one over” on you. Also, the people reviewing your content are educated, they are smart, and they are good at their jobs. Insulting them isn’t going to help anyone do anything. At the end of the day, we are all in this together.
4. One email will do it. If you’re having an issue, you email, and you don’t hear back in 20 minutes, that’s normal. I get more than 200 emails per day, all of which need to be read and answered. Sending multiple emails about the same issue on the same content really slows the process for everyone.
I feel his pain, so let me expound on this just a bit.
5. Include Details. Dates, URLs, and article titles are very important. If needed, use dates to build a time-line of the events. In describing the problem, include the steps that you took which lead there. For example, “I was using the General template to submit an article on May 6th. I pressed buttons 1, 2, 3 and then got a blank page.”
6. Be Concise. Don’t address more than one concern in the email. Get to the point and stay on track. A bullet-point list is easier for the email recipient to scan than a 500-word ranting paragraph.
7. Use the Subject Field. In the subject field of your email, include something that gives a clue about the email’s contents. For example, are you reporting a technical bug with the web site? The subject line should read something like, “Technical Bug With Web Site. Broken URL.”
8. Include Your System Info. If your problem appears technical in any way, include you operating system (OS) and browser specifics. Don’t know what those are? It’s simple. For Microsoft Windows, right-click the My Computer icon and choose Properties. There’s your OS. “MS Windows” isn’t good enough. Include the version number. To get your browser information, select the Help > About menu.
9. Don’t assume things are FUBAR unless they are repeatable. Stuff happens. It doesn’t mean it’s AC’s problem 100% of the time. Try to replicate the problem before firing off an email. It may have just been a temporary network drop. It may have been something you did. Slow down, try it again, and make notes of what you’re doing. This will help if you do end up sending an email.
These are the things to which AC or any site responds. I’ll go out on a limb and say those forum posts about AC’s unresponsiveness are probably the result of failure to adhere to rule number 2 and 4. When you read those, between the lines is, “I fired off an mindless rant with no details and didn’t hear back so I fired off 5 more emails.” I guarantee you, those emails went straight to the trash folder.
These are the tips from the guys who get emails everyday about problems with web sites. You don’t have to take them to heart, but then you don’t have to have your problem resolved either.