The Faster Carrier Pigeon

Email Is a Terrible Support Channel

You can reach this pigeon at

Chances are, you’ve interacted with a company over email. Chances are, it was a less-than-ideal experience. From the customer side, email is unreliable and slow; I submit an issue into the ether and maybe I’ll get a response. And when I do, I may not realize it because I’m not checking my email every moment of the day (ok for me personally that’s a lie, but I’m not your typical customer).

Basically, email is the exact same untamed medium it was when it was first invented. Yes, the tools have gotten better, but as a support channel, email sucks. It’s marginally better than writing and mailing a physical letter. By offering email support, you cede control to Gmail, Yahoo, et al. and lose out on crafting an ideal support experience to fit your company. Again I ask, would such risks be taken with the primary product? Would you pitch investors on an idea that lacks control over such a critical part of the experience?

Email is hurting your customer support efforts.

  1. It’s unreliable and leaves too much potential for human error. How many times have you dealt with bounced emails from servers, or sending messages before you’re finished writing them?
  2. For support agents, email provides no context or information beyond what the customer provides. This is inviting an email back and forth, prolonging the time it takes to resolve the issue.
  3. You’re competing with every other message in their inbox, and are at the whim of the formatting of Apple Mail or Outlook or whatever the mailbox app of the week is.
  4. Email might not even be instantaneous. Between issues with CRM integrations and outbound mail servers, users may not even have push email enabled. It might be days or weeks before someone receives your response and replies. And that’s assuming the message isn’t stuck in a spam filter,
  5. Email makes it too easy for customers to create duplicate issues, wasting your time, and delaying the resolution of their issue.

“But Steven, we surveyed our customers and 60% of them prefer email support.” The story of Henry Ford’s quip about asking his customers what they want comes to mind. Your customers don’t want email support; they want convenient messaging. Email just happens to be dominant. It doesn’t have to be that way.

I work for Helpshift for a reason. Helpshift is the next step in the evolution of customer support. With apps becoming a critical product for many businesses, support for these apps and companies must exist in the app so that support teams everywhere can craft and control their support experience as best as possible. Support at your least favorite company doesn’t suffer because they don’t care; it suffers because they’ve been using the same tools for the last 15 years.

Don’t spend time and resources on a faster carrier pigeon. Check out Helpshift to understand how much better your support experience could be.

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