How to Quickly Send High-Quality Replies to Customer Emails — On-Demand Webinar

Learn how to turn email into a fast, easy and high-quality customer service tool with Outpost. Read the transcript or watch the webinar.

In 2021, your organization can no longer rely on “good enough” customer service. Your customers now expect an email response time of one hour, with 15 minutes representing world-class service. But don’t worry — no matter what your current email response time is, there are solutions to meet customer expectations in a way that works best for your business. What’s in it for you? Happier customers who stay with your business, and love telling others about you. 


In this recent webinar, we discussed:

  • Steps to reduce customer service email response times to one hour or less
  • Common roadblocks and bottlenecks that delay email responses
  • How to set a realistic, achievable email response time for your team
  • How to resolve the customer’s issue with one email
  • The mix between staffing and recommended tools to grow efficiently

Watch the video:

Make email your best customer service tool

Many customer service teams struggle to manage their info@ or support@ inboxes. Missed messages, duplicate replies, and inbox confusion are common because traditional email wasn’t designed for teams. That’s why we built Outpost: to make your shared inboxes truly collaborative.

With Outpost, your team can work together in the same inbox, without sharing passwords or stepping on each other’s toes. Outpost is simple because shared email should be. Team up on email, stay organized and take better care of your customers.

If you’re interested, you can start a free trial of Outpost today, or schedule a custom tour to learn how Outpost will help you save time and get more done. 

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Read the webinar transcript

Peter:

Welcome, everybody.

Jonathan:

We’re going to be talking about customer service emails and your response times. So thank you for being with us today. Because you’re probably familiar with some of those other things, we want to just right off the bat let you know what Outpost is so that you can understand what we’re talking about and why we’re talking about these things.

Jonathan:

So traditional email wasn’t designed for teams, whether that’s Gmail or Outlook, the basic email setup was not designed for team collaboration, we had [inaudible 00:01:09], it just can be a mess, and especially when you’re using an email address like info@ or that, where you need to share that with the team, that’s where it’s especially hard things get jumbled and lost. 

And when those fall through the cracks. So what Outpost is, is it’s a shared email tool for teams and it was specifically designed for efficient team collaboration. So we’re going to be looking at the tool a lot today, but we’re also going to be talking about customer response times and how you can make those more efficient and faster. And a tool like Outpost is one of the ways that’s going to help you do that.

Jonathan:

So obviously, you know because of why you’re here, you’re looking to respond faster hopefully within one hour or less, but busy teams really struggle to manage their info@ or support@ inboxes. So again, that’s what Outpost is all about. It helps you confidently collaborate in that shared inbox and it works with your existing email set up. It connects to Gmail, it syncs with Office 365, and it’s easy to use. It’s not this complicated help desk ticketing software. It’s not going to be hard for your team to understand what this platform is and how it works. It looks and feels exactly like email. So there’s no learning curve to getting them started. 

And it’s also really easy to set up this. We designed it that way. And so when basic email isn’t enough in just trying to manage things through Gmail or Office 365 when you’re starting to hit those headaches and then you have pricey ticketing software, and that’s all overkill and complicated, that’s where Outpost comes in. And that’s why businesses love using Outpost because it’s simple, it’s affordable, it’s highly focused on just now, and makes it easy for your team to use.

Jonathan:

So let’s talk about this webinar, how do you respond to teams or respond to your customers quickly? So we’re going to go through this outline. We’re going to talk about customer expectations. I’m going to ask you some questions about your current setup. We’re going to talk about the common roadblocks to response times. I’m going to give you a little quick tip about how to respond, how to acknowledge and respond and follow up with your customers in a professional way. 

And then we’re really going to focus on that response time bull. You’re here because you’re thinking, how do I respond to customers within one hour? How do I do that professionally? And so we’re going to talk about setting and measuring those goals. And then we’re going to talk about balancing your team and the right tools so that you’re set up to succeed.

Jonathan:

So that’s a little bit about us, wanted to get that intro out of the way. And now I want to know more about you. We’re going to launch a poll here, and we’re going to ask you about yourself, what’s your company size? So take a moment here, you can go ahead and answer that poll question. And again, if you want to use the questions panel to tell us even more, again, where you’re logging in from or more about your business, like your industry or the types of customers that you’re trying to reach, just go ahead and use this as a chance to let us get to know you a little bit more too.

Peter:

Yeah. We really try and customize our content to whoever is here today. So thanks to those who have responded. We’re getting a lot of great responses, almost everyone already in. So maybe we’ll give it a couple more seconds just for the last folks who, it’s not mandatory to respond. We’re not grading your credit, but we appreciate it so that we can make sure we’re talking directly to you. Thanks for that. 

And I guess, while we’re doing this, I guess my challenge today, Jonathan, I’m going to close this poll up. We’ve got a good distribution, nearly nobody in the 200 plus today, Jonathan, but lots of folks in the top three groups there. So it seems like most folks today are 51 employees or fewer. So really interesting to hear kind of like what we would expect with our audience here. So thanks for responding everybody.

Peter:

One thing, Jonathan, I’ll say with people in this group of entrepreneurs, people who have been running businesses for five, 10 years, people who are going to start their venture tomorrow, people who are pre-revenue post-revenue, I think something like, I wonder if everyone here knows, and I’ll ask in the questions pane, do you all know what a ticketing system even is? And if you don’t, let me just tell you, it’s like a more complicated version of a customer service system that goes through your email. So if email is already a lot to you, a solution like Zendesk can be overwhelming and can require an IT professional to help with. And that’s really one of the things we love with Outpost is keeping it simple, keeping it just like you would expect email to work, but avoiding some of these pitfalls and headaches and problems that Jonathan’s going to get into and describe. So thanks for that.

Jonathan:

Yeah, absolutely. And I think, if you don’t have the experience of using a ticketing system for your business, you probably most certainly have experience being on the other end of that as a customer. And that’s what I want to talk about on this slide here is I want to talk about the difference between the type of service companies think that they’re providing versus the actual reality of what customers themselves believe they’re experiencing. 

So I want you to really just absorb this slide for a moment here and look at this gap. Companies, 80% of companies believe that they provide superior service, but when you ask their same customers, 8% of them believe they received superior service. There’s a huge gap here in expectations versus reality. That’s why I want you to just sit with that and think about that for a moment. You might believe you’re doing great, but how do your customers actually feel about this?

Jonathan:

And so let’s talk about customer expectations around response time because it has changed dramatically over the decades. Email’s been around a long time, and maybe back in the early dial-up days, people would expect responses within a few days, but obviously now, email being on our phones, it’s always around all the time and expectations have changed. So 88% of customers expect an email response in one hour. It doesn’t have to be immediate, because I want to show you this as well. For customers who expect a response within 15 minutes, that expectation is actually changing as well, and probably in a way that makes you feel a little bit better about yourself. It’s going down.

Jonathan:

The expectation that you’re supposed to respond within 15 minutes is not as high of an expectation from people anymore. It’s okay if you need to take a few minutes to get a thorough response and respond in a very professional manner that’s actually going to solve the problem. So don’t worry about feeling like, oh, we need to respond to people as soon as the email comes in, as soon as they ask us a question. Now, just think about that one-hour response time. And then if you’re able to get in that one-hour response time, you’re taking care of the majority of your customers and making them happy with that response.

Jonathan:

But what do customers actually get? So I want to reference another survey that was done of about 1,000 different companies. This research team basically contacted 1,000 different companies via their customer service emails. And 62% of those companies did not respond to customer service emails. That’s a bit of an embarrassment for those other companies. And potentially, as you sit and listen to this, you might have some examples yourself of, yep, we have missed responding to some people, emails have slipped through the cracks and we’re struggling.

Jonathan:

So just absorb this again, that there’s also a gap here for so many companies that are not even bothering to respond and acknowledge their customers. And if you’re just trying to get to a one-hour response time, there’s a lot of room in between for you to be successful as well. That if you’re at the very basic level, acknowledging your customers, starting with that, you’re already better off than some of these companies that are failing. So it doesn’t have to be that tomorrow you’re responding from one hour, you can set yourself a path towards the success of constantly improving, but you can just start today with, hey, let’s make sure we’re responding to everybody so that they at least know that we’re here.

Jonathan:

So I’m going to ask you about your current set up, and we’re going to start this with a poll, I’m curious to know if your business is already using a general email address like info@ or support@, we have some folks here who are working in the accounting industry. So maybe you have an accounting@, so do you use a general address to communicate with clients or customers?

Peter:

Yeah. Jonathan, a great point pointing out some of the responses we’ve seen in the questions pane here because I agree we’re using the term customers here so far because one of the case studies, one of the businesses we’re going to focus on today is the type that works with lots of customers. But if I’m in, let’s say, we’ve got a few accounting firms, we’ve got consultancies, we’ve got smaller businesses who work with longer-term relationships, that’s why we’re asking this question. So you might have a broader inbox like info@ your domain, you might have something that’s more sales-oriented or customer service oriented, but you also might have like partnership emails or event-based emails, that kind of thing.

Peter:

So we just want to hear what you’re using right now and make sure that we’re applying these ideas from this one successful business to your need sets, okay? And it looks like we’ve got almost everyone’s responses here. Really a vast majority of people are saying yes here unless we wish we could in this technology get them to list each one of the emails they’re using, just so we can get a better look. If you want to participate down in the questions pane, tell us what emails you’re using. We’ll try and customize this to your needs as well. But thanks for everyone responding today.

Jonathan:

Yeah, that’s right. And for a lot of you who are probably, the solopreneurs or maybe you’ve just got a startup, you might not have given email a ton of thought. And so maybe you’re getting by, by just using your personal email address to communicate with customers because it’s just you, so it’s good enough, but I want to just let sit on that for one minute to let you think about the future. 

Think about growing your business and being able to scale up, maybe in two, three, five years, you’re bringing team members on and thinking about the headache that that’s going to become if you establish a pattern right now of filtering all of your emails through, your personal address. So even if it is just you, it sets a good precedent, it’s best practice, in the long run, to start communicating with customers in a general address that you can share more easily with other team members.

Jonathan:

So we’ll get to more of that later, but I just want to set that as a potential best practice for you. Peter, do you want to help me introduce 23ZERO? We have this case study. I spoke with Justin Dowey of 23ZERO. But I think you read the case study recently and you wanted to talk a little bit more about them, is that right?

Peter:

Yeah. Well, absolutely. I mean, this is just, we’re using this as a representative company. 23ZERO is all of us today, right? And we’ve got these various types of businesses, we’re all doing different things and we’re all special and different, and we all handle our customers in a special and different way. So this is a case, this is somebody who sells things online, they’ve got this cool camping gear. It’s actually really great stuff. Love to see it out there. But they’re in this situation where they’ve got customers everywhere, they’ve got all these different types of interactions. 

And I think this is the key thing that I really want to be creative about how we think about our businesses, but these are folks who have customer service, they have shipping demands, meaning customers and the shipping companies themselves. They’ve got more like business development relationships. So having partnerships with events and other companies of similar nature, maybe bundling their gear and sending it out and showing up on television shows and that kind of thing. And then they’re more direct sales. So that might also include things like retail partnerships and that kind of thing.

Peter:

So as this business grows, and everyone here, again, tell us the questions pane, if you’re a business, if you want your business to grow or stay the same, whatever it is that you want. I think we can all agree that we want these processes, these time sinks to be more efficient, right? We don’t go into business to respond to emails. And so these guys were having this trouble, they really had no visibility between what they were doing. They would have these things going back and forth in the real world and maybe they need to check in with stuff.

Peter:

So if you, audience member today, or find yourself sending an email and then walking over to someone’s desk in the past, back when we walked over to desks and asked them if that email got there or you see an email from a really important client or customer come in and you slack or chat your coworker and say, hey, are you responding to this? 

Well, I’m going to respond and I want you to say this, that kind of thing. This is the kind of thing that really takes the time away and saps the time away from just getting to that customer quickly, getting in touch with those clients, those partners, and ultimately, it stacks up those emails. So that’s what we felt here with this business. And ultimately, 23ZERO needed to solve this in order to gain the efficiencies to be nimble and have that delightful customer experience and be a good partner to the people that they need to get back to quickly.

Jonathan:

Yeah, I was laughing when you brought up the example of walking over to a team member’s desk, Justin actually said this, that before Outpost, their internal communication was a lot of times just yelling down the hall, just to see if they’re taking care of things. And they’re an online retailer, and for all of us, we’re heading into the holiday season for an online retailer like 23ZERO, which meant seasonal communication. 

And so they might need to bring somebody on to help with that email volume. And he mentions it here that when a staff member would come or go, this whole headache starts all over again because you’re bringing a new team member into the process or a broken process if that’s what you have. And it just exacerbates that problem. So I’m actually curious again, we have another poll for you guys, just as you start to think about your email frustrations, what would you say today is your biggest frustration with email?

Peter:

Yeah, and I think, unfortunately, you can’t pick all four, so just pick your favorite, the one that gives you the biggest headache to read. To me, this speaks a lot to the personality of the business that we’re talking to today. So all of you all have different opinions on this, but what I mean by personality is somebody who says I spend too much time reading, well, we all value our time, but if that’s the one of these that you pick, then perhaps you really are losing time that you should be spending, getting back to work, getting back to that professional aspect of your business. Email slips through the cracks. That means, oh yeah, you’ve got these really important client relationships, customer relationships, and that’s key to your business’s success

Peter:

So express yourself in this poll. And I really appreciate, again, fast responses. So thanks for that. I’m going to close it again here in just a sec, but Jonathan, we’ve got pretty much all of them. I would say the only one to lagging behind just a third one, too much email back and forth with my team. So it sounds like it’s really our focus today on their outbound, their customer, that partnerships, that kind of email. So let’s make sure to tailor the content as much as we can today. I’m still looking to respond. Respond to more than one. So did we launch it so they could do that?

Jonathan:

If we did, it was a happy accident.

Peter:

Well, let’s jump in. Let’s get into how do these problems get solved? What do we do about this?

Jonathan:

Yeah, that’s right. And just to frame this around what 23ZERO was doing. The challenge they had is how could they streamline their setup, reduce those headaches, provide the excellent customer service that they know that they were capable of and continue growing their business. And I’m not going to spend too much time on this slide because it’s a lot of text and we don’t need to go through all of it. But I’m just going to let us sit here for a second, just so you can see the multiple problems that they were dealing with and how they were able to use Outpost to help their team be more effective.

Peter:

And what I do like about having this slide up is just, if you guys are able to read this or we’ll cover this again, or each of these items individually, but just when we think about email, I think we all tend to think of it as this like place that we go, and it maybe gives you delight or joy or a small headache, or you feel like it could be better, that kind of thing, but really those individual issues are broken down into these problems worth solving and groups of solutions. And we really want to show you how Outpost can deliver those solutions to you. 

And again, my challenge for all of us as listeners today, and Jonathan really gets into these problems and solutions, are we delivering this solution to you, the listener today? And if not, let’s drop that in the questions pane and make sure we’re customizing our talk today to you, the listener. So thanks for participating. I appreciate all the chats we’ve already gotten.

Jonathan:

Yeah, that’s right. And I want you to understand the big picture here. This problem for 23ZERO was a nightmare for them. It wasn’t just like, oh, we have an email problem. No, they were struggling daily. And Justin was talking about his team having a response time of about two days or more. And what they were able to do is turn things around using Outpost, getting better with their team to bring that response time down to about 20 minutes or less, which is amazing. So let’s talk about some of the things they did.

Jonathan:

The first thing is that one of the problems they have is they have a lot of different email addresses that they were using to communicate internally and with their customers, whether that was their shipping, accounting, their general info app. Those were a bunch of different email addresses that they were using and they didn’t have the visibility to see what was happening with all of them all at once.

Jonathan:

So I just want to switch over here and actually show you Outpost. So this is Outpost. It should look and feel like an email client to you because that is what it is, but it has superpowers, collaborative superpowers. And the first thing here that 23ZERO was able to do is bring all of their mailboxes into one place. So they’re not forwarding everything into one mailbox, they’re not setting up all these distribution lists to bring everything all in one jumbled mess. 

These are each individual mailboxes that have been directly connected into Outpost so that they can stay super distinct and that their team could respond to each customer or each email within that mailbox. It’s brought everything all in one place. And this is our demo account. This isn’t 23ZERO’s account, but I want you to see what this looks like to have multiple mailboxes connected and bringing email and then teams can effectively and quickly respond to. So that was the first problem baseline that they were able to solve right out of the gate.

Peter:

Jonathan, can I just, I want to really make sure that we understand this because I think sometimes a small business like ones that I’ve run and consulted with in the past all have one main inbox and it’s called info@, or sales@ my domain. And you’ll have that one because it’s a little bit of a headache already because I got to log out of my personal email. 

We got to log back into this one. I’ve seen some people who open two completely different browser apps. They’ll have Safari and Chrome opened. And that’s the one for this email. That’s the other one for this email. So that those kinds of people, and if anyone here today is like that, and I bet there are people like that, you probably think, oh, well, I’ve got a limited number of generic inboxes that I could possibly manage.

Peter:

With what Jonathan just said, if you have all of those things going into one place, if Outpost controls all of these different generic inboxes, info@, sales@, customerservice@, escalations@, you can now unlock the power of having an email address that’s special for a special event, a special type of customer, a special channel to have a discussion, and you don’t have to constantly be logging in and out. So I think sometimes the limitation that people experience is because of their technology, and Outpost is a solution to that aspect that you may not even realize is limiting your capacity. So I really love emphasizing that because I see it out there a lot. I see that browser switching thing more frequently than I care to talk about.

Jonathan:

Oh yeah. They’re logged in to multiple emails on multiple tabs, or for some of you, maybe you found a very personal solution on your own Outlook or your own Office 365, where you’ve connected multiple mailboxes in your Outlook inbox, but that does nothing for the rest of your team. Your team has to do that themselves as well. And you’re all still being these silos who are not connected to each other. And what Outpost does is it lets you bring all of those mailboxes into one place as well as your entire team to one place. So you’re all getting the same types of views as far as what you can see advantage together.

Jonathan:

So I’m going to switch back and just that was the simple problem that we’re able to solve right out of the gate, but then the other problem, shouting down the hall, which is something you can’t do now because of dealing with a pandemic and working remotely, you don’t have that luxury to shout down the hall. And that’s confusing and loud anyway. So they had this confusing internal communication. And with Outpost, they were able to have that total visibility and team transparency. So I want to show you what this looks like in real life.

Jonathan:

And again, I talked about these collaborative superpowers, so I already have all of my mailboxes in one place, I have all of my team members in one place. And so now I’m able to work together with my team. So when an email comes in, I can assign that message to any one of my team members. And I actually see that Erica is online so I can assign this message to Erica. And now anytime our team comes in, we all are seeing who’s doing what. We have the ability to understand who’s doing what. So we’re not stepping on each other’s toes, we’re not accidentally responding to the same things twice.

Jonathan:

And not only can we assign these messages to each other so that we know who’s responsible for these emails, but we can also add notes that are private and internal. So we’re not forwarding emails around to each other or having to CC each other to have an internal conversation. You don’t have to go to Slack or another instant messenger to say, hey, are you responding to this message? Or what do you think about this? Or let me give you this link to this other thing that you need. 

We’re not having those conversations anywhere else, except right here in the inbox. So I can leave a note and say Erica, can you take care of this? And post that note. Erica will get a notification that she has a note on this message. She can reply to me. And this whole conversation that you’re having internally, it’s right next to the conversation thread, but it’s still in our inbox. So we’re able to keep that internal, private collaborative, we’re working behind the scenes with each other and we’re able to develop a more professional response because of it.

Jonathan:

Now, the other thing I want to show is the idea of drafts. I don’t know how many of you are using tools like Google Docs or other shared documents, but the neat thing about Outpost is that when you’re replying to a message, I can start on a draft, and then I can save this, and I can let Erica jump in here. And now Erica can start working on the same draft, writing a better response, and then she can send it. So we’re able to share these drafts together, collaborate together, and write a really good response. 

Peter:

I’m over here logged in as Erica and I just got a little alert, some assignments to me so I can start working on things here. This is great. I don’t know, no need to check if I’m actually doing it right. No need to walk over. You don’t need to send me an instant message to make sure I’m actually there

Jonathan:

That’s right. We’re having that conversation right in this inbox. The other thing that’s really cool here too is you can see that Erica is actively writing a response to this email, which means I get locked out momentarily while she’s editing that response. It tells me, Erica is editing a draft currently, the conversation is locked, because I don’t know how many times multiple people in your company have gotten the same email from somebody and you both start replying. And maybe one of your team members finishes before you do that, sends off a reply, but maybe it has some different information that you weren’t going to share, or you would say it differently, and you’ve already wasted some time writing out a response, but now it’s too late. And so this allows you to avoid that collision, avoid sending two responses to the same person. And instead, lets you see, okay, Erica is working on this one, I’m going to move on to another email so that we can be getting through these emails faster together.

Jonathan:

So assignments and notes, shared drafts, collision alerts, these are the types of collaborative superpowers that I was talking about. You have all your email and your team in one place. So now you can actually work together and really work together on email responses. And it’s going to help you save time and get better at responding to your customers.

Peter:

Jonathan, one thing I would also think about here that I think really interesting, and if we can maybe even go back to the app, I mentioned earlier about how people think of these generic inboxes as singular. I have my info@ address and then I have my own email address. I feel like this is a very common way of running an entire business from five to 500 employees. You see it very often. And again, the value of having these multiple inboxes, not just having channel control as I call it, meaning a team has the marketing@inbox, and the whole marketing team logs into that. And another team, even if it’s just one person, might log into accounting@ your domain. And so you’ve got this great teamwork.

Peter:

Another thing that we’ve seen is people adding their own name as a shared inbox. And the capacity of that is very cool. If it’s important for, let’s say, your assistant to respond to things very quickly and you’re very busy and it’s okay for them to use your voice to your clients, to your customers, to your partners, then Outpost can really facilitate an amplification of you as the business owner or of other key players in your business to your customers, to your clients, to your partners. What a cool way to get even more use out of this tool. And I love seeing that out there in the field, it’s just a neat way to really get amplified in your own voice and make sure that your teams are really getting that message out in the correct way and that you have eyes on it. So I love that.

Jonathan:

Yeah, and I think that’s probably worth showing here too, is that Nicole is the business owner, but she’s got this public version of her email address that is on the website, people can contact her. It’s not her personal one that she’s using day-to-day for business partnerships and things like that, but it’s the one that customers can contact to feel like they’re talking to their CEO, but Nicole doesn’t become the bottleneck, right? She has made this available. And you can actually set based on the mailbox that you connect, you can set permissions for which of your team members in Outpost have access to that.

Jonathan:

So for Erica, she’s the executive assistant to Nicole. Erica has permission to view this, but McKenzie and Gerald, they don’t necessarily need access to that mailbox, they need to stay focused on the customer service inbox and the sales inbox. So they don’t need permissions to view this box. It can do something that Nicole and Erica collaborate on together. That’s another thing that Outpost lets you do is set those permissions. So it’s not just everybody accesses to everything all the time. You have the ability for team roles and team permissions.

Jonathan:

All right. So I’m going to go back to this slide here. The other problem that the 23ZERO team had was that they were wasting time on repetitive tasks. And I don’t know how many emails you are dealing with every day, but I’m assuming it’s a fair amount and every morning you get up and there are even more emails. And on average, I think employees spend about two and a half hours every day reading and responding to messages. And I think you know what that feels like when you go to your inbox and there’s a lot of stuff to work through. Not every email needs a response, some things can just be archived or thrown away some of its junk. It’s a lot of clutter. And if you’re spending a lot of time managing your inbox by flipping and archiving and deleting, it’s just a lot of repetitive tasks.

Jonathan:

And there are some things that you can do with Outpost. We don’t need to dive into it too much, but I want to show again, we have the ability for tags to help things be organized. So your team can see categories for emails. And then the power of Outpost, again, as all these mailboxes are in here, all of your team is in here, you have the ability to personalize email feeds.

Jonathan:

Now routing rules, Peter, are almost as old as email itself. So you can set up rules in Gmail, you can set up rules in Outpost, things to automatically archive or automatically trash messages. That’s great. But because you’re in Outpost and because you’ve got everything connected with your team, there are some additional things that you can do with rules that really take it up a level. You can automatically assign a message to one of your team members based on the subject line, who it’s from. You can automatically tag messages with labels that the whole team can see. You can automatically move messages around. It’s all things that you can take up with one level of efficiency higher because you’re doing it in a shared inbox with all of your emails in one place.

Peter:

Yeah. The way sometimes people think of tags or folders and email as kind of putting things in a file cabinet next to you or organizing things in a certain way. So with Outpost, what if I could easily and quickly anytime an email from so-and-so comes in, I put it in someone else’s file cabinet and they’re going to get to it quickly and I can check on how quick would they get to it? And over time, I can make sure that it’s happening in a timely way. And Jonathan may take a look at that as well. So I don’t want to spoil the next ideas here that we’re talking about.

Peter:

But yeah, as you said, Jonathan, these are features you would expect of an email app, but they become so much more powerful when you have your whole company, your team, maybe even remote folks, all in this one place. And with the changes from office culture that we’ve seen in the last six, 12 months here, it’s becoming even more powerful to have these tools at your disposal and at your whole team’s hands so that you can make sure that this is happening quickly and correctly, that all your messaging is on point.

Jonathan:

Yeah, that’s fine. Yes. And I also want to bring up, I noticed a question that Christopher brought in of wondering, okay, is Outpost a program on his computer? Is it a third-party website? What about security and personal information? And that’s a great question. I love that question. Outpost is a tool that you can open on your web browser. We also have a desktop app if you prefer to open it on the desktop. And we do have a mobile companion app too, so you can take it anywhere you need to go.

Jonathan:

But the issue of security is also a great one too, because what are you doing without a tool like Outpost? A lot of teams are sharing passwords with each other for these mailboxes, which is a security problem in and of itself. And then when you have team members come and go, like if you have seasonal help or things like that, that adds an additional security risk. 

If you’ve shared login credentials with a team member who is now no longer with you, and you’ve got to go through this whole process of changing passwords and it’s a big headache for the rest of everybody, not so with Outpost. What you’re doing is you’re giving each user their own personal login credentials to Outpost, which then gives them access to the mailboxes that they’re supposed to be able to see. You’re not sharing email passwords anymore. You’re sharing access to the tool.

Jonathan:

And from a security point of view, it’s worth noting that we have to go through security testing. Because we directly sync with tools like Gmail and Office 365, we have to be approved partners. We have to go through their security protocols to even be able to do that sync. And so we regularly go through those security testings and pass those so that we can maintain that security with them with the personal information. So that’s something we care very much about, and it’s actually a more secure process for you than just sharing passwords to email boxes with team members individually.

Jonathan:

Okay, Peter, so I want to talk about one more thing. We talked about rules as a way to increase that efficiency tenfold, but let’s get down to the real issue here for 23ZERO. They were having slow response times, like Justin said, it was taking sometimes two days to respond to customers because of all of the internal back and forth. And those slow response times were losing them sales, frustrated customers go to somebody else, they move on. I actually read a stat that like 80% of complaints on Twitter are because of a lack of response on another channel. 

So customers themselves could escalate the problem and they say, I didn’t get a response here. Well, what are my options? I’m going to go publicly complain about this company and to hopefully get somebody to talk to me. So being able to respond quickly can keep that down, keeps those complaints down. It takes care of the problem.

Jonathan:

And what 23ZERO was able to do was cut that response down to 20 minutes. And there are two things that I think you really need to see at Outpost to understand how they were able to do that. One is templates. So I’m going to show you really quickly. This is the backend of the templates that we have written and saved in this account. And you can do this for your own self. Maybe you have frequently asked questions. Maybe you’ve got a shared doc already that you and your team are copying and pasting messages from so that you can respond to commonly asked questions.

Jonathan:

In Outpost, you can save these templates right in your tool, right in your inbox tool, so that you can quickly respond to messages. So I can respond to this message. I can edit this draft that Erica has started. And I can say, all right, I want to just respond to this a little bit differently. I’m going to add this template. I’m going to look pet policy. That text here is pet policy. I think we can talk about terms and conditions, testimonial requests.

Jonathan:

I’ve got all of these different templates that I’ve saved as a response, but first and foremost, maybe I want to acknowledge Carol that we’ve actually received your message. So I’m going to insert this template. I have variables where I can fill in personal information, personalize the email. And now I’ve got a response ready to go within just a couple of seconds for Carol. So I’ve got your email. And I said I think I’m going to be able to respond the next couple of hours because everyone read her response. And I actually feel confident about that. I personalized it. I can send that out in a private and it’s a response that’s ready to go. 

Templates are going to help your team cut down on starting from scratch, rebuilding the wheel. You don’t need to do all of that. You can save those well-written professional responses so that your team can use and reuse them and still have the ability to customize them and personalize them so they don’t sound like they’re from a robot.

Peter:

Jonathan, another detail of that, that I’ve seen really work well for folks is as a team, you really have to remember that your whole team is logging into the same app from wherever they are. And so these rules, these templates, all of these, even the tags, we’re all seeing the same thing. So one thing I’ll see before Outpost is folks will have the issue of one person has the out-of-date language, or they have the wrong FAQ or whatever. They just haven’t updated, but so-and-so has, or they just didn’t read your email about sending that update. You know that what’s being sent is visible to everybody. Someone else can check-in and make sure it’s the correct language. 

It’s the most up-to-date language and all templates as they’re coming from this one source. So if you update your language frequently, if you send stuff out frequently, that’s great. Make sure that it’s all in that one place. And you can guarantee that all of your outbound talk, all of your messages to all those important people are going to be consistent and on point. So that’s exciting to see.

Jonathan:

Yeah, that’s right. And this dramatically cuts down the amount of time you’re spending on writing responses. It cuts down on simple things like typos that make you look unprofessional. It’s for you to have consistent quality messages for your customers to make them feel seen and heard because you’re actually acknowledging them, you’re responding to them and you’re giving them the answers that they are actually looking for to resolve their issues. So that’s one of the big things we’ve talked about and you want to get faster at responding. You don’t want to lose the quality. You don’t want to sacrifice that quality. And you also don’t want people to feel like they’ve just been talking to a machine.

Jonathan:

And again, we know with ticketing software how many of us had gotten email responsive. Thank you for your response. You are now ticket number 9,000. We don’t know where that is in the order. Does that mean we are the 9,000 tickets of the day? Does it mean we have 9,000 tickets forever? How does that give us any indication of when we’re supposed to hear the response that we’re actually talking to a human being. This cuts all of that stuff out there and it helps your team respond quickly and professionally. So that’s a really key piece.

Jonathan:

Now, the other thing I want to show, which is if you’re going to try to get down to one hour or less, there’s no way for you to actually do that unless you’re measuring that as a response time. So I want to show here, we’re going to show a real-life example here because I really think it’s important to acknowledge you can’t improve what you’re not measuring. So let’s look at this example with our team. I can see at a top-level that my team’s response time is currently two days one hour and 51 minutes. And there’s a lot of conversations here. 

There are over 200 conversations, with multiple responses for each thread, but two days is just way too long for my team to be responding. So first and foremost, I’m actually measuring this now. Most email tools do not have a way to show you what your average response time is for your customers. This, with Outpost analytics, you’re seeing top-level what is your team’s average response time?

Jonathan:

So, because I’m able to measure this, now I can start to understand what I need to do to fix it. So yeah, two days is a problem, but we buy, are we responding in more than two days? Well, first let me look at how my team is doing. When I look at the breakdown by user, I can see that Kody is actually doing a great job over-responding within an hour. He’s got an average response time of less than one hour. And John is struggling to respond within a couple of days. But again, I get to see why. That answer is pretty obvious here. John is responding to 200 of those messages and Kody has responded to four. Now, why is that? Well, John has been around longer. John has the most experience, the most knowledge. So he’s jumping in and responding to the more difficult questions, he’s handling more of the volume.

Jonathan:

That is an immediate insight that I can do something with John and Kody and then bring them together. We’re going to talk about this and say, this isn’t about punishment. This isn’t about big brother watching. It’s about saying, hey, John, I’ve noticed you’re dealing with a lot of email volume. And Kody, you’re doing great on your response time, but it looks like you can handle more. What do we need to do together to help you guys get this average response time down and do a better job managing it together? Maybe John needs to share some knowledge.

Peter:

I love this real-world example because it really demonstrates the complexity. And I’ll say what you said again, you can’t fix the problems if you’re not able to measure them. And so if I asked you and I challenge, hey everyone, who’s here today dropping the questions pane, if I say, how quickly do you respond to emails? I think the answer I hear a lot from small business owners, pretty quick. Well, how quick on average? Probably within an hour if I can. And again, we’re using an hour as a unit of time which means as quickly as you need to, you the listener today. We all have different needs sets. Some of us want to respond within the 20 minutes that we had talked about earlier. Some of us want to give a little bit of breathing room because we already have a relationship with some of our clients.

Peter:

So we all have different needs, but one hour represents as fast as you should respond. And that’s why Jonathan’s example is so important. One employee is very quick and another employee isn’t as quick but is doing a massive amount of volume. You now have a strategic management decision to make about how you’re handling emails. Look at how email just became part of your business management conversation instead of a headache.

Jonathan:

And knowing that there’s a problem, but not fully understanding why. Maybe the only way to know that this is a problem is because customers are complaining about it. You don’t want to wait until you’re getting customer complaints to know that there’s some way to improve. And that’s what these analytics help you do. Another interesting way to look at this is, I looked at my team members specifically, but now I can also look at dates and think about how are we triaging email?

Jonathan:

And again, I see an insight here that really helps me understand something. When I look over the last month, I can see that we’re doing a pretty good job of responding to messages on Tuesdays and Fridays, but Mondays, which is one of our busiest days of communication is when the email is the lightest in terms of our responses. So that’s another staffing insight where I can talk to the team. And in that conversation, I learned that John and Kody are both slammed with other high-priority work on Mondays. They’ve got to do reporting, they’ve got to do email, phone calls. They’re doing all of these meetings. There’s a lot going on on Mondays. And they don’t actually have the time and capacity to take care of email on one of the busiest days.

Jonathan:

So here’s an opportunity for me to say, okay, maybe now is a good time, business has grown. We’re wrong. We’re doing well. We have a lot coming in and there’s more work that these guys handled. Maybe I should bring in a part-time contractor or seasonal worker, something who can actually focus on email responses at that early part of the week. Let’s cut that response time down, let’s handle more of that volume on Mondays and through the rest of the week, again to lighten this guys’ load and help them do a better job of responding to customers. 

So again, getting that insight into what’s happening, gives me the ability as the manager, as the owner to say, let’s shift some things around, I’ve got a tool that’s going to help you guys respond faster, but I also know that maybe some people will help as well. So I’m getting that right balance of staffing and tools to make us the most successful team and possibly be.

Peter:

Yeah, Jonathan, again, I really want to emphasize, sometimes being faster is not the only metric that we want to measure. Sometimes, while fastness isn’t actually even an attribute that you want to promote with your employees because maybe getting the most correct response in the right amount of time is the correct thing for your business that’s also facilitated in Outpost. 

So again, I’m challenging everyone, I’m seeing a lot of great responses and some really insightful questions here. So we love this discussion. I’m seeing a lot of great thoughts on how this could apply to your business, even though we’re using this one specific customer focus case study. I think that’s a great application here. Thanks, Jonathan.

Jonathan:

Yeah, that’s right. So again, this was how 23ZERO was able to take their customer response time down from two days or more down to 20 minutes or less, they brought everything all into one place. They had all of their email and all of their teams in one place. They were able to use assignments and notes and collision alerts to help them collaborate in the same place without stepping on each other’s toes. And then with things like templates, rules, and analytics, that’s where they can really focus on driving that response time down so that they could respond in 20 minutes without sacrificing quality. They were actually taking care of their customers, the professional responses that left them with happier customers who were more than willing to come back and buy again.

Jonathan:

Now I want to just mention this for a minute or two here, there’s also a handout for you here because we didn’t talk about how could you respond within one email to take care of the solutions that are not this constant back and forth? And I want to show that there are technically three emails happening here, but we’re going to focus on the middle one.

Jonathan:

So the acknowledge email is just what we talked about. Maybe that’s a template response that you can set up to automatically reply to messages that you get, letting your customers know, thank you for your message, we got it, we’re going to respond within maybe your initial goal is 24 hours, maybe your goal is, we’re going to respond within 12 hours or even with one hour, but you’re going to set an expectation for your customers so that they know that you’re actually working on their problem. 

So that first one is more of an automatic reply with the template that you can set up in Outpost with the group, you’re going to acknowledge them. And that gives your team the freedom to really focus on a high-quality response. And that’s what we can use this checklist for. We don’t need to go through the whole thing today. It’s a free handout that you have. So if you just download it from the handout section of your panel, you can do that and really read through it.

Jonathan:

And then the other part that really helps improve customer satisfaction is after you’ve solved that problem when after you think you’ve solved that problem, you are going to send a follow-up email and say, how did I do? Hey, was I able to fully resolve your issue? Are there more questions? This is a chance for you to actually get better as a team so that you can more easily reply and resolve issues within that first solid email. 

So again, you can’t improve what you’re not measuring. That’s the point of that follow-up email, how are we doing? Are we actually solving the problems or do we need to work on this more? So that’s a new process for you to think about. And you can take that email response checklist, it’s free to you, download it, print it out, bring it next to your desk, whatever it is you need to do to help your team get into this rhythm. That’s the way that you can take care of customer issues in one thorough email.

Peter:

Jonathan, one thing I just want to emphasize because we were just showing that checklist, we’re not necessarily asking everyone here to do a bunch of work. I think right on the top of the hour, we mentioned Outpost is the kind of thing that I guarantee all of us together can install into our business and get up and running within the first couple of days, it does not involve a lot of synchronization. 

We simply sync up our accounts or Gmail or Outlook accounts, and we get them working in Outpost quickly. If I decide I hate the app, I can always go back to my normal email and no harm done, right? The point of what I’m saying here is that all we’re trying to do is improve the current processes you have first, not ask you to do a bunch of work, to do some of these higher-end features that may be more like a future-looking thing for your business.

Peter:

So my challenge to everyone today, again, is I believe this applies to all of us. I believe that we can get benefit from just syncing up our inboxes, using the inboxes we currently have, and helping our team understand exactly what your needs are, our customer success guide can get you through the process of getting into that demo time for free. 

And once you see the benefits, once you feel comfortable in the system, you can do some more of the advanced stuff that Jonathan just explained with the analytics, with the templates, that kind of thing, that can still come in the future. So you don’t need to do everything tomorrow. You can get in there simply and easily, get your team up and running and already start saving time and having more oversight over that email, and then get into some more of the advanced stuff to check with stuff as you have time because you’re going to have more time once you start using this.

Jonathan:

Yeah, start small, baseline level expectation that you want to start with is let’s stop letting those fall through the cracks. There shouldn’t be a reason why a customer goes without a response. So let’s get that taken care of. And as we build together as a team, we start to drive that response time down, because we’re measuring it, because we’re able to get insights, we can start to improve together. So you don’t need to respond in 15 minutes. 

That’s not a customer expectation anymore. And you don’t need to respond within an hour tomorrow, start working together, start having these conversations with your team about what is it that would help us improve together. Maybe is a tool like Outpost, that would definitely help. Let’s also improve some processes together. Let’s do a better job collaborating.

Jonathan:

So as we look towards wrapping up this webinar with you guys, I just wanted to mention, we have an exclusive offer for our webinar attendees. One is that you can start Outpost for free, you can have a free trial, get in, try it out, start using it. And then if you do like it and you do end up signing up long-term, we’re going to give you 50% off of your first three months of Outpost. So again, easy to get into, easy to use.

Jonathan:

And in fact, we actually have customer success managers who are ready and able to help answer more of your questions. I know we had a lot of great questions that we’re not going to be able to get to today, more technical questions about your specific setup. Those are things that our customer success managers can have a conversation with you about having to do a personalized one-on-one setup, so you understand exactly how it’s working, how we can improve processes for your team. We’ll do the whole thing, talk about it and get you set up so that it’s easy to go ready you and your teams up and running thin. 

I mean, there’s a few minutes. So that’s the offer for you guys. We really appreciate you being here with us and definitely would love to see you guys check that out. Peter, were there any questions that we needed to go through or other things that we wanted to address with our attendees today? I think we have one more poll that we wanted to launch.

Peter:

Yeah. Let me launch this poll and answer your question really quick here. So I’m doing things at once here. Yeah, we do have a few unanswered questions. So a bunch of great ideas coming in right here at the end, and I am furiously typing, but if I don’t get to your question if you have to go because it’s 11:00 soon here. Just know that I see your question. We can get back to you after today. With your permission, we can also just take you through the app again, whether it’s me or Jonathan or a customer success guide Cassie, we’re all great at understanding your business needs, why Outpost can really help you. And we can start to customize this conversation after today. So I dropped the link in the chat, go ahead and sign up. It’s a very low-risk process here. It’s a free signup. It doesn’t reduce the ability to get into your normal email, whatever that might be.

Peter:

And then we’re here to help ensure that you’re able to get up and running quickly. So that’s what our promise to you. That’s what we’re here for. And then the next steps from there, we can really have these deeper conversations. So I’m responding to a lot of the folks. I know I’m halfway through a conversation with you. And we can make sure to get back to you soon.

Jonathan:

Yeah, absolutely. We’re here today, we’re here tomorrow. So we’re available to answer your questions. Like we mentioned at the top of the webinar, this deck will be available to you. This is a recorded webinar. So we’ll share that recording with you as well. And we’ll include more of those links that we talked about, the handout, the sign-up offer, all of those things will be in our follow-up. So you definitely will hear from us. It’s great to see some of the responses coming in for this poll. 

And some of you are looking forward to, hey, now I’m going to set up a general email address because I really liked that idea. A lot of you are looking and saying, we need to improve the way our team does this. And this may be a solidifier for you saying we need to take care of this. And for all of you guys who are interested, asking to learn more about Outpost, we definitely look forward to having those one-on-one conversations with you so we can answer your questions specifically.

Jonathan:

So I think we’re going to close this poll because I think most of our responses have come in and we’ll get back to you. We really appreciate you guys being here today. Thank you for spending the time. I hope we’ve given you the insights, the advice that you need and even showed an interesting tool that might help you find the right balance so that you and your team can respond to customer emails quickly and professionally.

Peter:

Absolutely. Thanks, everybody. Have a great day.

Posted in: Customer Service Webinars

Outpost Community

Outpost Community

This article was written by a member of the Outpost Community.

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