Do you ever get the feeling your emails are being sent to some cyberspace black hole rather than the intended recipient? They haven’t answered, surely that must mean they didn’t get it, right?
Email, and in particular, how immediate many people see email has changed drastically over time. The old rule of thumb has always been- if it’s an urgent question you call, something not urgent you send an email. Slowly but surely with constant access to email, clientele and co-workers are expecting faster responses to emails than ever before. How then, can we maintain a high level of customer service whilst preserving our sanity? I have a few recommendations and suggestions:
- When dealing with others- if you can email, do. A phone call is nice and it might feel good to you, but think about the person on the receiving end. Do they have time to take your call right now? Would it be more effective to email them and set up a time for a call if it is a lengthy discussion? Remember, they have work too and the telephone is one of the top distractions in the office.
- Most business etiquette experts now recommend that email be answered within 24 hours (sooner if possible). Now, that does not mean you should have your inbox open constantly (terrible time management) but it does mean you should check your email at least once a day and respond.
- If you are unable to respond to someone right away because you have to research further into their question or need, send them a quick note– “I received your email, and am working to find an answer to your question now. I need to do a little research, would it be acceptable if I provided a definite answer by DATE?”.
- Doing a lot of traveling and away from the office (i.e. camps, conferences, retreats, etc.). ALWAYS PUT ON YOUR AWAY MESSAGE! Be sure to explain how individuals can get an immediate response (typically by calling your office).
- Away messages are typically not meant to be set for months at a time . Yes, we have a lot of busy seasons, but we also need to balance this with being responsive to clientele. Plan for a time to be responsive even in your busy season. ( I realize the irony of this bullet point as I currently have an auto-response message saying I’m out of the office for three months. Again, do note my use of the word “typically” in the first sentence.)
- If you want a response make sure your email is clear and concise. Imagine you are paying by the word to send this email. What can you take out? I hate to say it but the bulk of the text you poured over so thoughtfully as you were penning an email may likely be missed by the receiver who is thinking, “I have exactly two minutes to read and respond, WHAT DO YOU WANT!?!”
Bottom line: Return your emails, and write emails that make it easy for the recipient to respond. 🙂
What are your tips and suggestions for remaining responsive with regard to responding to emails, while balancing the time you need to do all the other terribly important things you do in your day? Share your suggestions in the comment section!