Respond to your business email FAST!

Answering your business email promptly should be a priority for all business. Not only is e-mail an important communication line with your customers, it is often used by them to gauge that your trustworthy.

If a customer sends you an e-mail with a simple question, and you take forever to answer it, what does that say about the rest of your operation? It's one of the tell-tale signs customers use to seperate men from boys. And we all want to play with the big guys, don't we?

Talking about the big businesses, surveys show that the Top-500 fail miserably at answering their business email. Jupiter Communications reported that 42% took more than 5 days to answer a simple question. In the world of Internet, that might as well have been forever. If a customer has to wait that long for an answer, most likely she will have taken their business elsewhere. 35% of companies don't even bother to answer at all. I guess, they just don't like customers ;-) Forrester Research is reporting figures that are similar.

Ironically, I mailed Forrester Research over a month ago, to request authorization to quote more recent figures. Sadly, I have yet to receive an answer on what should've been business as usual to them. I would've expected them to know better, since they researched the issue, but alas. Unfortunately, this means I can't give you the latest figures, but at least this anecdote illustrates that things aren't looking much better these days...

So what is prompt answering
your business email?

Business email should be answered within 24 hours max. No exceptions. At that rate, your doing a lot better than a lot of other businesses.

If you really want your customer service to shine, you should consider answering your business email twice a day with a 12 hour interval.

It is even better to check out your direct competition by sending them an e-mail as if you are a potential customer. Send them more than one on several days. Especially check out mondays, fridays and weekends. Track the time it's taking them to answer, and implement a procedure to beat them at the business email game.

OK, I understand that for small businesses, resources are limited. But your stream of business email is most likely to be a lot less than for big guns. And if you check and answer e-mail regularly, numbers of e-mails to answer are usually very easy to handle.


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