3

Bob, a (potential) customer, has a question about a product and sends an email to the support email address support@example.com.

Alice, one of many team members who answer support mails, gets to answer Bob’s question.

When Bob replies, only Alice will answer him. When Bob has a different question, any team member may answer him.

Which email address (and signature) should Alice use?

  • support@example.com and a signature including name and position, like:

    Alice (Example.com support)

  • support@example.com and no signature (so Bob doesn’t know who is answering him)

  • support-alice@example.com

  • alice@example.com

Or something else?

(Note, this question has nothing to do with implementation requirements, e.g., how the ticket-tracking system works. The technical aspects are all covered, it only matters which variant might offer the best UX for Bob.)

3

Bob, a (slightly) socially awkward customer, has just finished a short support e-mail conversation related to a recently purchased item. Having spoken to Alice, one of the more social and friendly team members, assisted Bob to a swift solution.

When Bob replied, he noticed that only Alice ever answered him. Looking too deeply into this, Bob also notes that each e-mail is signed with Alice's e-mail address: support-alice@example.com. As such Bob decides that Alice has taken special interest in him and summons the courage, courage Bob has not seen in years, to ask Alice out for a drink.

1-2 business days later Bob is delighted to see a reply to his overly eager request, only to discover that Randy (support-randy@example.com) is flattered by the invitation but must decline.

... and, scene.

An e-mail from support@example.com should be sufficient. If a single individual is helping a customer, and that support ticket may be an extended one, then signing the e-mails may help the customer feel more connected with the support individual -- a more one-on-one experience, harking back to a phone support call.

Alice may go on vacation and pass off the ticket, having the new support tech sign the newly minted e-mail will help the customer realize a change in responsibility but not feel as if they have constantly been bounced around. According to the signatures, they can at least live in the belief they have only spoken to two people.

The e-mail it comes from would be rather superficial as many e-mail clients these days do not show the address itself by default. It can always be made visible, but seeing that support@example.com is the e-mail address is unlikely to dishearten most who would even bother to make the address visible.

If a new e-mail (i.e., a "subject" the system has not seen) to any support e-mail address ('support', 'support-randy', or 'support-alice') places that e-mail into a pool then the more generic an address the better. If someone sends an e-mail to support it would be unlikely they expect a specific person; but if they send an e-mail to support-alice they will be more likely to expect Alice.

A last thought is that if Bob's e-mail client initially flagged Alice's e-mail as spam, he would have told the system it is not. Having a common support e-mail means Bob does not have to do this again when Randy replies.

  • 1
    ... Poor bob :( – Dirk v B Feb 10 '14 at 2:42

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