A bronze monkey sculpture covering his mouth

No-Reply-e-mails are supposed to be a relief to service, sales and marketing by giving important information to the customer without giving an opportunity to reply. In a customer centric company, however, this form of communication is hardly useful.

There are many reasons why a customer or lead wants to reply to an e-mail sent by a company. Maybe they didn’t fully understand the message or they have additional questions. Other times, they might not know why they received the e-mail in the first place. Or they have a question unrelated to the e-mail but related to the company and their products.

In any case, it comes down to the fact that the customer has a need.

However, a No-Reply-e-mail suggests a one-way-street-communication. The customer receives information but can’t react to it. In fact, quite often the No-Reply-e-mail comes with the direct message that the customer should not reply. It’s like they turned into pupils in class who are not allowed to interrupt the teacher. But your customers are not pupils and you are not their teacher.

The reason for No-Reply-e-mails

If customers have the opportunity to reply to an e-mail that might be just for informational purposes, companies usually have three options how to react:

  1. Every e-mail will be connected to a company unit (marketing, sales, service) and the feedback gets directly relayed to the proper unit to handle the feedback.
  2. Every (automated) e-mail sends feedback to a single address (e.g. info@xy.com). The feedback will then be viewed, sorted and – if necessary – relayed to the responsible person and/or business unit.
  3. E-mails without a proper business unit or replying address that are expected to generate next to no relevant feedback get a No-Reply-address.

There’s a logical reason for companies to decide to take approach #3: they can save resources. Especially for B2C-companies who deal with a lot of short-time customers, it might seem like a good compromise to relieve marketing, sales and service employees.

I personally see one exception with notification e-mails which are e-mails that the user gets for very specific things, like a new follower on Facebook, a new blog entry on the company blog, or a new message on a social media platform. These No-Reply-e-mails have a specific purpose that adds value to the customer experience.

What does a No-Reply-e-mail tell your customers?

Imagine, you’re in a shop and the vendor starts telling you about their new product but forbids you to say anything. Or you buy the product and immediately after are not allowed to ask any further questions. A No-Reply-e-mail is a clear signal: we don’t want to hear from you.

It’s even worse when the e-mail defeats its purpose. I recently got a No-Reply-message that asked me for customer feedback. If I would have wanted to give the feedback – which would be necessary for the company to optimize the customer experience – I would have needed to create a user profile, log in and use an elaborate survey to make my point. Needless to say, I didn’t.

The e-mail shows that the company didn’t even think about the purpose and just wanted to save some time and money.

A No-Reply-address always feels like a rejection and as a customer, that’s not a nice experience. Even if you as a company decided that certain messages don’t necessitate any customer feedback, the customer might think otherwise.

Even worse, if you don’t give your customers the opportunity to comment on their experience, you might not even realize pain points along the way and risk negative experiences. You take away one of the best means to gain insightful information on the customer’s behavior and their expectations.

The solution: smart reply-addresses and filter options

Always use real reply-addresses that invite the customer to reply. If you want to help your employees organize these messages and avoid „out of office“-messages, implement smart filters that automatically detect and filter automated messages that are not actual customer feedback.

Keep in mind that e-mail communication is not meant to be a one-way street. E-mails are no flyers, posters or commercials. They are a communication tool for dialogue. Everything that prevents this dialogue might be a short-term solution with dire long-term consequences. In the end, your customers might rather switch companies to someone who is willing to listen.

What makes marketing excellence? Is it the right tools, a customer centric view, smart processes or analytics? Find out more.