Automated voice messaging services for help desks make people mad. However, the newest frustration is email only support. Email support allows techs to solve tickets more quickly, and focus on a single issue. This of course, is compared with spending time on the phone, which many times turns into a providing training rather than incident resolution.
In general, while companies are still adjusting to the email only model, you may find some "old-fashioned" individuals that scour the web for a main phone number to work around this non-voice method. To address this, some companies allow for a premium support option, allowing for calls. Though, many times companies are reluctant to increase costs / department spending in this economy.
Either way, the discontent with email support is still a new thing, and I feel improvements can be made. In a recent situation I encountered an issue that had no clear explanation. After contacting support I received a fairly quick reply that they were looking into it. However, in the four days since then, I still have no resolution. I am lucky to even get an email update once a day. Most of the time I have had to ask for it.
So, before email support gets to the annoyance level of automated voice messages, I give you ten things to consider for your email only support team:
1. Make it a point to keep the customer updated, don't make them ask.
2. Make it clear that their ticket was received.
3. Give a clear time table. Even if the time table only covers how long it will take to fully review the issue and not the fix.
4. Always respond in a peaceful manner. Emails can be misconstrued as the person being mean or short while they were actually trying to just get a quick email out about the problem.
5. Make it clear who is answering the problem. It is hard to believe the ticket is being worked on officially. That is, unless I can tell the same person who is familiar with the situation is working the ticket.
6. Be sure the user (customer) gives an email response to close the ticket. Without a response a ticket may not truly be able to be closed.
7. Add a personal touch to emails so the relationship doesn't seem so stale. Always think empathetically versus apathetically.
8. Give the customer a good place to track the issue. Following the flow through an email is sometimes difficult.
9. Do not ignore off topic questions. When customers ask about another issue be sure to break it off into another ticket instead of avoiding the obvious.
10. Reach out for a call if you need a better explanation. Sometimes an email cannot describe something. Even if you declare yourself as email only support, this may end up making your job easier.