Don’t Let Email Sit in Your Inbox Unpunished

If you’re anything like me, you receive a lot of email. Some days I feel like the only thing I’ve done all day is deal with email! Given the amount of other things that must be done in business, it’s easy to just put it in the “too hard basket” – but that can also be very dangerous.

I read this article on email and customer service about 6 months ago but while I was looking at some goals for 2008 I thought it was worth revisiting. So how do you stack up in those figures? If I’m not careful I tend to find myself amongst the 70% who fail to respond within 24 hours. Definately something I’ll be fixing for 2008. A good tactic is mentioned in Mike’s first point:

Automatically respond to all emails received: People will be more willing to wait for a reply if their initial communication has been acknowledged. Include a commitment to act on the issue and when you will respond fully.

I think people will generally understand if you can’t address the issue immediately – but it’s important to acknowledge the email and set an expectation of when you will be able to do so. It also ties in to something I wrote back in 2004 about controlling your email (instead of the other way around!) – it’s as relevant now as then. So, my top tips:

  1. Choose when to check your email – don’t let your computer decide for you
  2. As you’re going through your messages, fire up your diary (or whatever time management tool you use) and mark a time to actually attend to the task or issue
  3. Respond to each email as soon as you read it (even if it’s only a brief response) – and at that point you can let the other person know when you’ll attend to is as well

Of course, if it’s an emergency you may need to deal with it straight away and all the above advice is null and void, but we don’t live in a perfect world, do we?

Originally posted at almostanything.com.au

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