SMB/Digital CS- Generic email address or real person?

We're rolling out a new digital approach for our SMB clients soon and I'm debating on whether to direct clients to a new generic email address ([email protected]) or to a real person's email address ([email protected]). We're going to be clear about what they can expect from this person, but I wanted to get some feedback on which method was best for this.

Our clients are used to having 1 person to interact with although they are low touch. They typically get confused about who to reach out to for support, so we get a lot of support questions.


  • Brian O'Keeffe
    Brian O'Keeffe Member Posts: 181 Expert
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    I advise using a real person and crafting the message from that persona for messages that would come from a CSM. Generic tends to be seen as less important, more likely to be ignored and less likely to be effective. I saw open and engage rates shoot up after switching to a direct persona. Renewal, retention and growth rates then all spiked up!

    Reshma NigamJohnGieschen
  • Reshma Nigam
    Reshma Nigam Member Posts: 1 Newcomer
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    I advise a real email address. Why don’t you offshore it and save money. 
  • PiperWilson
    PiperWilson HLAdmin, Member Posts: 29 Navigator
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    I'm a customer, not a CSM. I'd prefer to hear from a person, not a generic address.

    Jeffrey Kushmerek
  • Jeffrey Kushmerek
    Jeffrey Kushmerek Member Posts: 96 Expert
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  • JooPark
    JooPark Member Posts: 2 Navigator
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    I have read articles that suggest if you have emails come from a "person" that "person" should be there when it is time to meet. We use a generic email but have the "reply to" go to real people so that it is clear the email was not from the actual rep. When the reps are not aware of emails that are sent using their name, it can cause confusion. You could do A/B testing to see if one process resonates more with certain personas.

    Brian O'Keeffe
  • Jeffrey Kushmerek
    Jeffrey Kushmerek Member Posts: 96 Expert
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    I think this is all expectation management. If you are truly digital, why set the expectations that you are meeting?

  • Brian O'Keeffe
    Brian O'Keeffe Member Posts: 181 Expert
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    edited August 2023

    I have automation set up identically for two sectors, mid-market and SMB sectors and it is signed by the CSM or by the manager, me, for our smallest customers. The only difference is that for our smallest customer responses and follow ups will not come from the signee most of the time.

    I am rethinking it. Some of the messaging for CSM assigned customers may not make sense and may be better served if they were more generic. The issue is that an outreach takes place between the CSM and the customer outside the automated cycle that starts an engagement (specific to onboarding, most of the time) that causes confusion. An automated message is then generated that is for something they have already discussed, resolved, or plan to take care of. If it had a more generic signature it would serve the relationship better.

  • Cheryl Luft
    Cheryl Luft Member Posts: 10 Contributor
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    We use a generic email address, and sign as the Customer Success Team when it's coming from a digital engagement. However, this is a shared email address where our CS team members can reply to customers using their names in the signature, but still being from the generic address so everyone has visibility.

  • JohnGieschen
    JohnGieschen Member Posts: 3 Navigator
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    I think the message itself and the frequency with which customers are getting messages are key here. If they understand that there are people behind a shared address due to the nature of the comms and their past history of engagement, then you can do more with automation.

    Ryan HL
  • rdesmarais
    rdesmarais Member Posts: 14 Navigator
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    Since you are rolling out a new approach for what seems like a low-touch or tech touch approach, now is the time to dive into the deep end of the pool. Use a new support email address. You can craft a concise and helpful auto-reply explaining how that email address is used. Set expectations right away and consistently. And keep in mind a digital approach could also include leveraging a digital virtual agent via a chat tool. And you should also be reminding the customer to refer to your online and on-demand content where likely most of their questions can be answered. Measure customer satisfaction regarding these avenues you want the customer to use so that you can adjust and finesse over time based on VoC.

    BenB Ryan HLMiranda Balcar
  • BenB
    BenB Member Posts: 76 Expert
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    edited August 2023

    Hi @Miranda Balcar - good question.

    If you're moving to to digital approach I say use a generic email. Because what if bob leaves? Then you have to give them a new email address - which seems counterproductive if you're building the digital program.

    I think using a person's email sounds easier at first and better for the customer but I feel like you'll either have to eventually switch to a generic email or the Bob approach will make it harder to make the digital jump and you could go backwards.

    But this is just the first thoughts that came to my mind :)

    Miranda Balcar
  • Ryan HL
    Ryan HL Member Posts: 5 Seeker
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    Great points all around here and in agreement with @BenB and @rdesmarais - plus Bob may get promoted from handling so many accounts so well! Going generic keeps it real with your customers on the expectation of service.

    Like you said though, many inbound requests are Support related. Why not go with the flow and have Support triage first? Save Bob from being solo on the great overload of tactical questions and billing inquires, more time to scale one-to-many offerings based on those incoming requests.

    Miranda Balcar
  • Brian O'Keeffe
    Brian O'Keeffe Member Posts: 181 Expert
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    Support tends to be a dumping ground for any and all incoming customer inquires. (And often a very disrespected group by others in the org.) Seasoned vets in support know this and will do all they can (and rightfully so) to prevent support from being dumped on. The key is what makes sense for support to handle and when and introduce it that way.

    I disagree with keeping it generic. It makes sense in some scenarios, but personal and direct are always more powerful and successful. Who handles the responses and follow ups? That is something we spend a lot of time fretting about but the customer does not care about at all. As long as they are responded to and those responses facilitate them meeting key business objectives the software is designed for. Getting caught up in not having that name respond is a trap that can undermine a successful digital strategy.

    JohnGieschenPiperWilsonJay NathanMiranda Balcar
  • Jeff Breunsbach
    Jeff Breunsbach Member Posts: 266 Gain Grow Retain Staff
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    1. The email address should be from someone actually at the company - I wouldn't create a digital CSM or send it from a generic email address. Why? People connect with people.

    ​2. Let that person write the email in their own words - limit it to having one editor review the copy. Otherwise it gets muddied down and sounds "corporate". Trust me - only one editor.

    3. Don't get over-zealous in your digital comms - you want to shove all the links to all of the places but that has been shown to be a negative over time. Keep it simple - come up with one or two actions per email you want them to take.

    Building relationships at scale is possible, but you need to be authentic and realize that you are building trust over time. Scale doesn't equal quick. ​

    Brian O'KeeffePiperWilsonMiranda Balcar
  • Brian O'Keeffe
    Brian O'Keeffe Member Posts: 181 Expert
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