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Did You Get My Email

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troy janisch

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User since: 08 Jul 2002

Articles written: 17

The only thing shorter than a New York minute, is an email one.

Does this conversation sound familiar?

"Did you get my email?"

"What email?"

"The one I sent you today."

"I didn't get the email. When did you send it?"

"15 minutes ago."

So it goes. A recent survey by TargetX, an email marketing firm,

indicated that 13 percent of their respondents said they'd take their

business elsewhere if they don't receive a response to email within

one hour. Fifteen percent said they were willing to wait up to

three hours. Eight percent said they would wait six hours. Almost

everyone (88 percent) expected a response within 24 hours.

To customers, waiting for an email response has become the

equivalent of standing in line. This means that your company

may be losing potential business if it doesn't provide an immediate

response to incoming emails. It probably is losing potential business

if it's not responding to emails the same day they are received.

There are several things a business can do to alleviate the

potential impatience/anxiety of customers who await an immediate

response to their emails:


It's a good idea to send people an email response as soon as possible --

even one that doesn't answer their specific questions or address their

immediate concerns. A quick response that acknowledges that the message has

been received and sets expectations for when they will be contacted

again with an answer is often enough to placate, if not satisfy, an anxious inquirer.


A lot of the emails you receive don't provide enough information for

you to give an immediate answer. When offering individuals the opportunity

to contact you, let them know in advance the information they need to provide

to get an immediate answer.


Routing all emails through a webmaster, who divvies them out to

the appropriate person, is inefficient. When soliciting emails from your

web site, try to route incoming emails to the appropriate person rather

than having a single individual respond to all emails. For example, sales

inquiries might be sent to the appropriate sales person, based on the

location of the sender.


Give individuals an opportunity to call you if they're not getting

what they consider to be a timely response. This is particularly important

for customer service issues. As they strive to become more efficient,

customer service departments often make themselves the most difficult

individuals to contact.

Follow Up

After responding to someone's email inquiry, take the time to

circle back by email, or telephone, to ensure that the individual was

satisfied with your response. Did they find the product or service they

were looking for, even if they did not select your company? The responses

to your follow-up provide a valuable view of your company, its products,

and competitors.


A May, 2003, Meta survey indicated that 80% of business people prefer

communicating by email to using the phone. Nevertheless, knowing when

to pick up the phone is important. If individuals provide their phone

number and invite you to call them within the body of an email, consider

picking up the phone. It will likely provide more goodwill than email.

As one person put it:

"I prefer e-mail with people I don't care much to

deal with, or don't have the time to deal with it. However when I want

something, I prefer the phone because of the immediate interaction."

The challenges of email time compression can be met. Although the average

person may receive more than 50 to 100 emails a day, few of them require a

response. A 2002 study from

the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 60 percent of

Americans who use e-mail at work receive 10 or fewer actual work-related

emails per day after filtering through the unwanted Spam mails.

Nevertheless, the number of emails we receive each day is

predicted to increase exponentially over the next decade with increases

in Web services, wireless access, and the integration of technology.

Have any doubts about this? Email them to me. Or, email them to my cell phone.

Or, email them to my wristwatch. You can do all three at my web site:

And if you do, please don't expect a response within an hour.

Troy Janisch is president and founder of Icon Interactive™, an industry leader helping companies integrate Internet and other Interactive media into sales channels, marketing strategies, and overall branding. He can be contacted by email at

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