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Readers may also send you e-mail about many things not directly related to the site: canceled orders, shipping
dates, link requests, political disagreements, and a thousand other things. You need to be able to separate the
technical problems from the nontechnical ones so that the correspondence can be routed appropriately. Some
sites use an online form and ask readers to self-classify the problem. However, this is unreliable because
readers don't usually think of the site in the same way the developers do. For example, if a customer can't enter
a nine-digit ZIP Code with a hyphen into your shipping address form, you may think of that as a technical
mistake (and you'd be right), but the customer is likely to classify it as a shipping problem and direct it to a
department that won't even understand the question, much less know what to do about it. You may need a
triage person or team that identifies each piece of e-mail and decides who in your organization is the right
person to respond to it. This is a critical function that should not be outsourced to the lowest bidder.
Whatever you do, do not let problem reports drop into the black hole of customer service. Make sure that the
people who have the power to fix the problems receive feedback directly from the users of the site, and that
they pay attention to it. Too many sites use e-mail and contact forms to prevent users from reaching them and
firewall developers off from actual users. Do not fall into this trap. Web sites pay a lot of money to hire QA
teams. If people volunteer to do this for you, love them for it and take advantage of them.
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