Do Not Reply

I am very sorry about our delay in getting back to you, only your message was sent to a 'do not reply' email address, which is not monitored closely.

This is the message I got today from a (otherwise very helpful company) because I replied to an order confirmation eMail.

What makes it worse is, when I sent the actual reply, I got an immediate auto reply;

Thanks for your email. We'll be in contact with you shortly, which can take us up to 7-10 working days

We'll be in touch soon.

Leaving aside soon being considered almost two weeks what exactly is the point of a do_not_reply@example.com address?!

Needless Friction

When dealing with any company communication is paramount and makes a big difference to the customer service experience.

In this case the company did reply, and addressed my issue really effectively, so why introduce this obstacle of a "Do Not Reply" eMail address? Why not just use info@ or something and, y'know, actually reply?

User Perception

Firstly, no modern eMail client shows the eMail address where a name is present it simply shows the name e.g. "Acme Widgets Inc", suggesting a customer should know it doesn't accept replies because it is do_not_reply@example.com is ridiculous, most people will never see the address.

Secondly, the confirmation eMail was conversational in nature and didn't state anywhere that you could not reply to it

Finally, when I sent the reply I got an Immediate auto response from their Zendesk as above stating "we'll be in touch shortly"

All in all, I had no reason to expect that I wouldn't get a reply.

If you must use them (why?)

  • Please make sure that the senders NAME includes some thing like [Do Not Reply] e.g. Acme Widgets [DO NOT REPLY] <do_not_reply@example.com> in the hope that a customer might see it

  • Include in the eMail body something helpful - with alternative contact information - along the lines of REPLIES TO THIS EMAIL WILL NOT BE DELIVERED, if you require assistance please eMail helpful_person@example.com

  • Consider setting the Reply-To header, so that the user "Reply" functionality isn't broken by your bad design decisions.

  • Ensure any auto reply clearly states that you've sent eMail to an unmonitored address and provides alternative contact information – although in my experience these just frustrate me too!

Don't use them!

Ultimately, there’s really no point at all in a “do not reply” email address.. just use a normal eMail address and actually respond to customer enquiries.

(I appreciate that having things in a ticket / CRM system makes sense, but pretty much all of them accept eMails directly, there is no need to force customers to contact you by filling in forms)

Do this and most people will be much happier with your service. I associate “do not reply” with muppets like government agencies and such, and it just adds friction to the customer experience unnecessarily.

Customer eMails you, reply by eMail. If a customer phones you would you ever say "sorry, you've called an unmonitored phone line, try this number instead" - no.

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