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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 thirddid 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.

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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.

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One response

  1. Of course, NOT responding to emails is just plain unacceptable. But the best agents and best technology cannot meet consumer expectations if you take longer to respond than people expect.

    Because an unhappy consumer can quickly become a lost customer and no one can afford to lose customers.

    Fuze Digital Solutions together with sponsored a survey of almost 1,000 consumers about their expectations when it comes to online service and support. The survey results revealed:

    The percentage of customers that expect to know turnaround time BEFORE engaging in online customer service

    The turn-around time expectations for support and sales email responses, and how these vary by age of the consumer or frequency of Internet use

    How long customers expect to wait for a response in online chat, and more…

    See the results of this important survey at

    Contact Fuze at if we can help with your online customer care initiatives.

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