Last week, I couldn’t resist purchasing another computer. I found a great deal on a refurbished Dell through the Dell Outlet.

It’s my first Dell and I’m looking forward to testing it out.

Yet one thing has irked me about the Dell purchasing experience thus far – I didn’t receive an email receipt once I placed my order.

While I can check the status of my order online, I like it when I receive an email alerting me to the status of my order so that I don’t have to be proactive in following it.

In fact, sending status emails as part of an order process is a customer service best practice that shouldn’t be overlooked.

If you sell anything online, here are status emails that you should be sending to your customers:

  • An order receipt/invoice. Customers like to know that their order has been received and have a reference of it. Send a receipt/invoice via email. This email should also include pertinent information such as an estimated ship date.

  • A confirmation of payment. If a payment is not processed/cleared immediately at the point of purchase, be sure to send an email when it has been.

  • A shipping confirmation. When an order is shipped, let the customer know. If an order contained multiple items, itemize them so that the customer is aware of which items are contained in the shipment. And, of course, include a tracking number so that the customer can follow the shipment.
  • A notification on any order changes. If an order is changed for any reason (i.e. the estimated shipping date is moved up or back), inform the customer via email.

Keeping the customer in the loop using automated emails benefits everybody. The customer gets the satisfaction of knowing that an order hasn’t “slipped through the cracks” and doesn’t have to go out of his or her way to find out what the status of the order is.

And at the same time, a company that shows it’s “on top of things” can reduce the number of inbound customer service requests that it receives due to customers asking for information that could have been sent to them automatically.