Businesses are slaves to inertia. Most people work in a certain way only because that's how the people before them worked. When we write business emails, we try to copy the tone we're used to hearing from business emails we receive. When we name our companies, we try to make them sound like other companies that came before us (a pharmaceutical product called veroxitran, a web 2.0 startup called disrupt.ly, etc). Sometimes following the status-quo makes sense because it's a great way to avoid wasting time on minutia, but sometimes the status-quo can lead us astray.
One example of a misguided standard business practice is sending automated emails to your customers from an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org. It's pretty common to order a product online and receive a confirmation email that says in bold letters, "Do not respond to this email. Your response will not be read." What kind of message does that send to your customers? Do we really need to be that hostile and unavailable?
There's probably a very good reason for some companies to use no-reply email address. I'm sure that if companies like Amazon or Facebook tried to read all the responses to their automated emails (including those super annoying "out of office" replies or any other automated replies), they would be overwhelmed. There would be no way to deal with all those emails.
The problem is, small companies see these emails from big companies and they decide that they should do things the same way. I couldn't disagree more. Most small businesses only exist because of their superior customer service, and copying the big boys just dooms you to the same forgettable and impersonal service that they suffer from.
Facebook probably sends out millions of automated emails a day. Your small business probably sends out a few dozen. Is it really that big of a problem for you if people respond to those emails? Do you really hate your customers so much that you don't want them to be able to get in touch with you?
I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but if your company sends out impersonal no-reply emails to your customers, I suggest that you strongly consider making the switch. Just because an email is automated doesn't mean it can't be personal. Every single automated email at LAS comes from an address that forwards straight to me. We probably send about 100 of these emails per day (welcome emails, reminders, etc) and I can assure you that I've never been bothered by the responses.
Shouldn't we make it as easy as possible for our customers to get ahold of us?
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