Email communication never came with an instructions manual. Back in the day, email was a great way to communicate, quick, easy and free. These days email is a huge drain on our productivity. It’s now an essential requirement for businesses and organisations to develop policy and guidelines around the different communication mediums and specifically the use of email to effectively communicate. What is acceptable in one organisation may not be acceptable in another, it all depends on the nature of the business and the culture.
The answer to the question “when is it not ok to reply to an email” is – it depends. It comes down to productivity vs. politeness. Whether you work for yourself or you are an organisation, set the criteria upfront as to the expectations of how you want email to be handled. No one likes to be ignored however, with the volume of email in our inboxes these days it is often a physical impossibility to answer every email we receive. A good rule of thumb is if you can flick a reply within one sentence then get it done and answered – even if the response isn’t favourable. This way at least you aren’t leaving the sender hanging and you will most likely stop the next 4 follow up emails arriving. Try to avoid further discussion by leaving doubt or open ended questions, get to the point politely and hit the send button.
To help receive a reply as the original sender, remember to keep your emails short and to the point. If the answer can’t be written in one sentence, pick up the phone and get the response that way. Always consider making a call over email when trying to schedule an appointment or checking somebody’s availability.
When should you definitely reply?
The answer – it’s your call. If you are a service based business then you should as part of your quality service provide a timely reply to customers or potential customers. These days most people with a pending service question are impatient and are looking for an immediate response, if they can’t get it from you, then they may just look elsewhere. Many companies these days have auto responders in place to acknowledge these requests; this buys some time to reply to the request properly. For all other email, the decision to reply depends on the nature of the content. If you have specific types of email that you have deemed as requiring a definite response, ensure this is communicated to your team or your customers especially if you made a written guarantee.
Is there acceptable etiquette around responding to emails – or is this still being determined?
Email is generally not considered the appropriate communication media for fast turnaround responses and on the whole, most people accept that as the norm. It is sometimes necessary to inform others of the average or expected response time, this can quite easily be added to the bottom of all email in the form of a P.S. or Please Note. There will never be one size fits all for email, the same for there will never be one way to write a Facebook post. To reduce the burden and volume of emails, try to eliminate as many as possible in the first instance. Consider the amount of emails that you send, generally the more that you send the more you will receive. Look at your personal use of email and see where you can make improvements such as the length of your emails, the number of CC’s in the email and is there a better more effective way to communicate your message– maybe pick up the phone occasionally.
I’ll finish with this quote from Simon Sinek – Start with Why
“Emails are like rabbits, they reproduce at an exorbitant rate”
If you would like to learn how to increase your personal and business productivity including which online tools will suit you and your business then take action NOW! Contact Wendy on 0407 967715 Email; firstname.lastname@example.org