Mystery shops have led to more personalized e-mail communication

Wouldn’t it be great to see exactly how employees communicate with your customers via e-mail? Lake Sunapee Bank ($670 million, Newport, New Hampshire) now has that ability.

With its employees’ permission, the bank has been doing Internet mystery shops for some time, says Angie Deschenes, VP/Retail Banking.

How fast do employees respond to customer e-mails?

She says these mystery e-mail shops have lead to heightened online customer service.

“Our call center is in charge of customer e-mail communication.

“An e-mail appears in the general mailbox and it is answered by one of our employees in a timely manner.”

Deschenes says the bank wanted to see how quickly employees respond to customers’ and prospects’ e-mail and judge how quickly these responses were sent.

“Any time you touch the customer you create an image of the bank,” she says.

“We want the customer to experience the same level of customer service walking into the lobby as they would online.”

Typically these online mystery shops begin with an e-mailed question.

“An example might be a customer writing about how they had been on our site and recently moved to the area.

“The e-mail might conclude with a question about our checking account.

“When our call center employee receives this e-mail we want them to recognize this as an opportunity. We wouldn’t want them to give some general information and end the conversation.

“We would like them to ask questions. For example, they might try to find out where the customer relocated to so that we could find the closest branch.”

She says that the response e-mail the employee sends should also include some general account details and create an opportunity for ongoing dialog.

Additionally, Deschenes says that the bank has gained plenty of insight to how its call center employees communicate with customers.

“For example, we received input from a few shoppers who would like to see more of a personal touch to the e-mail communication.

“We printed responses from over a month and saw more of a ‘form’ letter pattern.”

At that point, employees were asked to personalize their responses by trying to determine who they were e-mailing.

“How you respond would be different if you were writing to an 80-year-old woman versus a 21-year-old college student,” says Deschenes.

“We began to formulate ways employees could personalize their message based on who the customer was.”

Two employees proof each e-mail

Also, one of the common pitfalls in the customer responses was grammar.

“We noticed that there were some grammatical differences in the e-mails. So, in addition to spell and grammar checks, we ask the employees to have another employee proof any outgoing e-mail.”

She says that this system has worked quite well. “They write their e-mails, swap with someone and take five minutes to proof. It’s been well worth taking that extra step.”

Deschenes notes that the bank’s online e-mail shops are performed by Customer Perspectives (Hooksett, New Hampshire, www.customer
Angie Deschenes, VP/Retail Banking
Lake Sunapee Bank
Newport, NH
phone: (603)865-6123

Call Toll Free 800-CPSHOPS, to find out how Customer Perspectives’ mystery shopping programs can improve your bottom line!