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Do not reply to this email

I realize I haven’t written anything here for awhile, it’s because I’m in the home stretch of submitting my manuscript for my DNS book, finally, after four years. I’m supposed to submit it today, in fact. Which I won’t because I still have a few chapters left to review. But we’re close.

But in my travels lately I always listen to audiobooks and podcasts in the car. Living in Toronto, you spend a lot of time in traffic. Brian Tracy once wrote that if you listen to audiobooks in the car (instead of listening to some morning DJ barking like a dog and discussing Survivor) you can obtain the equivalent of a university education in about 3 years.

This week I found a couple episodes from James Shramco’s Superfast Business podcast quite interesting to the small business seeking to compete with 800 lb gorillas in their space.

First up was #583 How Artificial Intelligence Can Be Used By Marketers To Enhance Performance. My takeaways here were that:

  1. AI is accessible to the small business. IBM Watson was mentioned in the podcast and while I was making a note to “investigate Watson pricing” I was stunned to find large swaths of the platform are actually free.
  2. The most effective use of AI is as an augment to human intelligence. This makes sense to me, as a former AI skeptic (I will elaborate why and what made me change my mind in another post), I feel as though AI will happen, but it will never become self-aware. Using AI to enhance human intelligence seems to be an unbeatable combination right now, in fact I remember listening to entire book about just that subject but the title escapes me.

The other Superfast podcast was #585 How to Engage Your Community which is very germane to those of us who run businesses and and view our customers as part of a community. What cracked me up here was Shrammie’s rant about businesses who tend to email you messages from addresses like do-not-reply@bigCo.com. He’s absolutely right here. When you send a message from do-not-reply@ the subtext of what you are telling your customer or prospect is… “fuck you”.

It’s laughable how important these people think they are. Too important to have to forward an email to the support team if somebody presses “reply” ? When I routinely send emails to the between 50,000 and 100,000 customers from easyDNS or Zoneedit and I always put my personal email address in either the reply-to or the signature, and my direct telephone extension in the signature. And I make it a point to reply to every single response I get, even if it’s just to tell them I’m forwarding their email over to the support team.

Do I get overwhelmed with so many responses from all my tiresome customers that I can’t do more important work? It’s never been an issue. Most of the time I get a smattering of responses, if it’s a hot-button topic that I know will get a lot of responses I would put in a P.S that even if I can’t respond individually to every email, I do read them all. Which I do.

This is also a great way to connect directly with your client base and get a sense of the state of your company on the front lines. If there is anything blinking bright red flashing lights, here’s where you can find out about it first.

Takeaways:

  • If your business has any automated processes emailing your customers with do-not-reply addresses, switch those to your main support address and funnel replies back into your ticketing system.
  • If you send any personal messages, like welcome sequences, letter from the CEO, etc then definitely do not send them from a do-not-reply email address, send them from your own personal email address, and take a moment to reply to anybody who actually replies to your email.

This is how you differentiate yourself from the 800lb gorillas in your space. They’re impossible to talk to, to connect with a human. Make it easy to connect with your company.

That’s it for now, back to my book.