How to use Gmail for Fabulous Customer Service – 8 tips

As a start-up owner, one of the easiest ways you can wow your customers is to reply your customers as quickly as possible. Since my business is mildly popular, I get a lot of email everyday and I try to reply to as many of those emails as possible. And Gmail helps me in doing that in the easiest and cleanest way you can imagine. So today I want to share with you a few tips on how to use GMail to provide awesome customer experience.

1. Star your mail

On a typical day I get 120-150 emails. But out of these 60% are regular emails, like notifications for purchases, comments, twitter follows and bills & invoices. The rest of 40% are interesting mails, these are from actual people asking for help, appreciating my work / products, with payment related problems, collaboration requests, consulting work requests etc.

Now, my email routine is quite simple. Whenever I read an email, if I can reply to it in 2 minutes, I would just go ahead and do it right-away. But about 20% of time I cannot find an immediate reply (as the email may contain a big request, complex question or follow-up work). What I do with these emails is, I simply star them. You can star an email by pressing S while reading it.

And once a week or whenever I have free time, I go thru my inbox for starred email (short-cut GS) and carefully work on the items or reply to the mails.

2. Filter your e-mail

You can create rules on incoming email so that only certain mails end-up in your inbox and rest in archives or marked as read automatically. Gmail calls these rules as Filters. I use filters a lot to maximize my productivity and responsiveness.

For eg. I have a rule to mark as read & archive mails with certain subjects.

3. Canned Responses

Another beautiful feature in GMail is canned responses. These are like pre-composed messages that you can either insert in to a reply or set a rule to auto-reply. I have made canned responses for most frequently asked customer questions. For eg. I have a message with my bank account details. So if a customer asks me how do I pay thru online transfer, I just send that canned response. It is both quick and accurate.

4. Mail Forwarding

You can set up rules thru filters to automatically forward incoming email to other email addresses. This is very helpful to outsource certain portions of your work without manual intervention. For eg. I give course completion certificates to students of my online training program. So whenever they request for a certificate, I get an email. I just set up a rule so that the email is forwarded to my assistant. He sends the certificate.

5. Visually Scan your Inbox – use Labels & Colors

If star is a good way to know important mails that need work, labels are a good way to quickly see the type of mail you have in your inbox. Labels are analogous to folders in Outlook or Lotus Notes. See below snapshot to understand how labels help me.

Once I look at above list, I immediately know how many sales, how many comments, how many twitter follows, how many consulting requests I got. Without even opening a single email that is.

6. Keyboard Shortcuts – J K R F S E P N

This is another hidden gem in GMail. You can use keyboard shortcuts to very quickly read, reply, forward email. Here are a bunch of shortcuts that I use commonly.

What do you want to do?Which Key
Open an Emailo
Reply to the email you are readingr
Forward the email you are readingf
Send the email you are typingtab then enter
Go back to inboxgi (press g then i)
Go back to all mails with a stargs
Go back to all mailsga
Read next email (or select next mail if you are in inbox mode)k
Read previous email (or select)j
Apply star to the email you are readings
Archive current emaile
Compose a new emailc
Read next email in a conversation threadn
Read previous email in a threadp

More info on Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts

7. Offline Mode

Offline mode is GMail’s version of downloading emails to read later. Since my internet connection not very stable, I rely on Offline mode to read, reply to mails even when there is no net connection. When the connection is back up, GMail uploads all the changes and downloads new mail. Like magic.

8. Chat

If I find a mail from a customer or reader and I need to reply to them, I see if they are online on google chat. If so, I just chat with them. It is instant and I can help my customers better.

How do you use E-Mail for better customers service?

Please share your tips & ideas using comments. I would love to hear from you.

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