15 July 2016 | 26 Comments
I receive approximately 500 e-mails from current or potential customers every week. About 80% are questions. 20% are complains, concerns, or requests. And if I’m lucky, I get 1-2 e-mails from happy customers.
That isn’t to say that fewer than 1% of my customers are happy with Stonemaier Games. Based on what I see online, that number is much higher.
But it’s exceptionally rare for a happy customer to take the time to write an e-mail telling me they’re happy. It’s special when they do, and I want to respond to those e-mails the right way.
So for a while now I’ve been thinking about the best way to respond to those messages. I’ve talked to several people about it, including Steve at The Company Bard and my parents at The Stegmaier Household. Here are my thoughts:
- Any response is good, but gauge the intent of the original message. If someone sends me a happy e-mail, while they don’t need a response, there’s a pretty good chance they would appreciate a response. My sense is that most of these people aren’t looking to start a conversation, though, so I keep my response pretty short: I thank them and say a few other things appropriate to their message. But unless they ask me a question, I don’t ask them a question, effectively closing the loop on the conversation.
- Lower the barrier to entry for the person to explore other products. Sometimes a customer will contact me to say something like, “I just wanted to let you know that I love Viticulture. I haven’t played your other games, but I can’t wait to try them!” When it feels right to me, in my response I may recommend one of our other games to the person and offer them a discount if they purchase the game from us. The intent is to make a happy person even happier while potentially turning a one-time customer into a long-term customer.
- Ask if you can quote the customer on your website. I’m kind of on the fence about this one. The idea behind it is that if a customer has taken the time to carefully craft a compliment, they might like the idea of seeing their words in print elsewhere (and it might benefit the company to have a wall of quotes from happy customers). So you could ask for their permission to do that. My hesitancy comes from the fact that the customer chose to send a private message instead of posting their happy thoughts on social media. Also, it turns a selfless gesture into a self-serving benefit for the company, which feels a little odd to me.
My thoughts on this subject are still evolving, so I’d really love to hear your opinions. If you hear from a happy customer, how do you respond? If you’re a happy customer who has every taken the time to e-mail a company, how do you like for them to respond (if at all)?
Endnote: I also want to clarify that I’m definitely not fishing for happy customer e-mails. They’re wonderful to get, but my inbox is enough of an uphill climb as it is. :)