A fascinating, and a bit shocking, study was released today, rating how well online commerce sites do when it comes to responding to prospect and customer email queries.
Not very, it turns out.
While the study was done in the online wine retail industry, there is no reason to think that it doesn’t apply across the board. Wine retailers aren’t known to be any more cavalier about customer service than is any other retail sector.
The study, using online mystery shoppers, involved 50 different online wine retailers throughout the U.S., the U.K., and Europe. When it came to evaluating how responsive retailers were to inquiries made by email, a shocking 34% of the sites – more than a third – did not respond to the inquiry at all!
Now, this is hardly a way to grow your business; in fact it’s very poor customer service.
But beyond that, one has to wonder: despite not receiving a reply to their initial query, how many of those 34% of prospects and customers still ended up on the retailer’s mailing list?
Not responding to an email is a poor business practice.
Adding someone’s email address to a mailing list – even if they initiated the contact – when they haven’t given you permission, is a very poor email practice (even if it does arguably fall within the business relationship exception to CAN-SPAM).
But failing to respond to an inquiry at all, and then taking that person’s email address and adding it to your marketing mailing list is absolutely inexcusable.
Even though the study did not address this (perhaps in part because it’s been too recent for them to start getting that mailing list email yet) I know there are sites out there that do it, because it’s happened to me.
Hopefully everybody reading this responds to prospect and customer queries right away (at ISIPP SuretyMail we make that a top priority – our Customer Service people have it drilled into them that responding to prospects and customers comes above anything else, and we pride ourselves on our responsiveness by email).
But if you don’t – for whatever reason – respond to email queries, then don’t go adding those unresponded-to email addresses to your mailing lists!
Because guess what the recipients will do when they get that email?
They’re going to hit “this is spam”.
And rightly so.