Using Email Effectively

I bought something online last week and, within minutes, received the

requisite email from the storefront thanking me for my order. Alas,

this story doesn't have a happy ending. I want to show you why so that,

hopefully, you'll learn from the experience too.

The storefront is, a computer and electronics supplier

that friends of mine have used in the past. When the email arrived

moments after placing the order on their Web site, I initially thought

that these guys were on the ball. Here is the text of their message:

"Thank you for ordering from Your order

confirmation number is 0000XXX0000.

If you have any questions about your order, email us at or call us at 1-800-364-9483.

To track your order, log onto our Order Tracking System at for complete shipping details."

What did TigerDirect do right?

* They place the order confirmation number directly in the email


* They provide a link to their Web site tracking system.

* They include their phone number and email address in case you

want to contact them for more information.

That's terrific, and all storefronts should include at least these

three pieces of information. However, they didn't include one other

piece of critically important data: Whether or not the items that I

ordered were actually in stock. When I went to the order status page, I

quickly saw the dreaded "backordered" indicator. When I clicked on that

for more information, I got the following screen:

"These items are currently on backorder, and will ship as soon as

we receive stock on them."

That doesn't tell me anything. Is it going to be weeks? Months?

Whenever Sid in Shipping gets around to opening up the stock? So I

called them on the phone and they told me my stuff would come in next

week. Why couldn't their Web system track this information?

Using email to communicate with your customers is essential, but all

emails need key elements such as whether an order has been shipped and

when backordered products are expected. Without including them, you run

the risk of sending your customers elsewhere. Sure, extracting all this

data and generating this information for every email is more work, but

saving your telephone and other support people a lot of time and effort

is worth it.

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