Rapid response: Good for business e-mail
December 16, 2008
Returning e-mail isn't so hard.
How many e-mails are waiting for your response right now? Three? Ten? More? There's been a lot of talk lately about how much time is wasted answering e-mails, thus reducing productivity. This might be true in some cases, especially within employee circles, but when it comes to sales and customer relationships the more rapidly you can respond, the better you stand a chance of landing a sale or earning extra appreciation from your customers (in turn leading to more sales). It drives me completely bonkers when I fill out a contact request form on a website and do not receive a response until the next day. I'm amazed that, in this world of instant connectivity, businesses would squander the opportunity to instantly reel in a lead that has taken the time to seek them out, become interested in their products and services, and even made the first step to contact the business. So much time and money is spent to bring people to the website, but once they're there the ball is dropped. I wonder how many sales are lost simply because a competitor answers an RFP first. Some of my colleagues have adopted the practice of checking and answering e-mail at specific times throughout the day. They often incorporate an autoresponder to let contacts know what times they will be doing this. While this is an improvement, I still think that a personalized response is more appropriate. Even a quick note letting customers know that you have received the e-mail and will respond later that day is better than a canned autoresponder message. People understand that you have more than one professional obligation, but they still want to know that you value their business and care about them. They want to know that they are a priority. A few 10-second e-mails sent throughout the day will not throw you off track, and they can make the difference between a sale and a lost customer. How do you handle e-mails throughout the day?