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The Autoresponder Outline

Dec 24, 2007
The auto-responder note was short, pointed and just what I wanted to read. In fact, I thought the email was a representation of the near perfect auto-responder message.

Let me break down the elements that make an auto-responder message successful.

1) Order Tracking. The section provides the order number for easy referral if there is a problem with the order. Customers can use this number when contacting the company with any customer service question.

2) A Statement of Intent. This section clearly defines how many emails the recipient will receive to guide them through the product fulfillment process. In the case of this sample that number is three. This number is fairly standard for auto-responder emails.

a) Order Confirmation. This email assures you that the company received your order.

b) Order Status. This email indicates that the order is in process and provides an itemized list of purchases and applicable discounts along with shipping related costs

c) Order Shipped. This email is sent when the product fulfillment team delivers the package for delivery. This generally includes tracking numbers and business contact information should the package be delayed lost or arrived damaged.

At this point the auto-responder notice encourages recipients to white list their emails so future information isn't sent to the spam folder.

Finally the auto-responder message includes a closing note from the customer services department head. In this case there is a statement listed that reads, "My only job is making you happy."

In all the auto-responder message was shorter than the above description. No graphics were included, but the message was caught and digested quickly.

It may be to your advantage to make your auto-responder messages short and without undue marketing statements. After all the reason for the auto-responder is to manage a customer's order once the purchase is actually complete. To go overboard in marketing might be viewed as overkill.

Auto-responders should be designed to assist both the online business owner and the customer. This happens when pertinent information is delivered on a timely basis.

Customers appreciate knowing the status of their order and a three-pronged approach to information delivery can happen in a virtually hands-free environment known as auto-responder.

Does your auto-responder have to look exactly like the sample outline above? No. You devise it any way you want. I simply used this outline to demonstrate one very succinct way to allow your customers to know what to expect, when to expect it and that you will not be sending long-term emails to them without their permission.

I might suggest that if you want to include a marketing angle make that appeal on your last auto-responder email. This email can provide tracking information, but it can also alert customers to ezines or free email services you may offer that may be knowledge-based and desirable. Make sure this is offered as an opt-in function and don't high-pressure these individuals who have already extended their trust in making a purchase.

Auto-responders can be the first line of defense when it comes to providing proactive customer service.
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