Why no-reply reply email addresses “send the wrong message”

Further to a previous blog post about customer interactions, another pet peeve of mine is companies that send you an email using an email address that you’re not allowed to reply to – you know – no.reply@somelamecompany.com. Most big companies seem to send their “system generated” emails this way, and maybe I’m just overly sensitive, but to me it just seems cold and arrogant. It also perpetuates feelings of dealing with a big faceless company.

Email is fantastic for two-way offline communications. So, it’s a shame that so many companies seem to only want to use it for pushing out information (or marketing messages) to customers. Many companies don’t even provide a contact email address. In many cases you’re forced to use a cumbersome online form to submit an inquiry (often with a skill testing captcha to boot!). Why do companies make customers jump through hoops to talk with them electronically? In most cases, I don’t think they intend to frustrate their customers; instead, decisions like this are just made by someone in IT who is mainly concerned about what’s easiest to implement. I also think that too often a company’s business processes are decided upon based on what’s most efficient for the company – not what’s most efficient for the customer.

At Square One, we had quite a bit of discussion about what “reply to” email address our system should use. Since we value the personal relationships our agents build with our customers, we considered using the agents email address as the reply to address. One challenge with that solution is that some emails truly are system generated (for example, the customer may have gotten an online quote without actually interacting with one of our agents). Another challenge is that not every agent is available during all the hours we’re open and we know that a timely response is very important. In many cases, it doesn’t matter who responds, as long as the question gets answered quickly and correctly.

We ended up using the agent’s name as the reply to name, but customer.support@squareoneinsurance.ca as the email address. That way, any replies to system initiated emails are automatically directed to a central mailbox that we actively monitor. You can be pretty sure we’ll respond to your emails within 1 business hour. We find that most emails sent to this address can be dealt with over email. If it can’t, no biggy, we’ll just pick up the phone and call you. It’s not rocket science!

It might seem like we really sweat the small stuff at Square One. Well, we do. That’s because we know in most cases we’ll only get one chance to wow a potential customer. Our ”conversion rate optimization” work has shown what a big difference small changes can make (watch out for a future post where I talk more about this). Removing barriers that prevent customers from being able to interact with us easily can also have a major impact on our success. As Daniel mentioned, we are continuously looking for ways to improve . If something ever annoys you about dealing with us, we definitely want to know so we can fix it. Just send us an email! ;-)

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