We all have those days when we feel like we can’t breathe. Paperwork is piling up by the minute (and let’s not even think about the project that was due yesterday!). You leave your desk for what seems like a few minutes, and when you return you find 65 unread messages! How did that happen? On top of scrambling to get that project done, you have to respond to your emails, or risk something falling through the cracks. Think it’s best to put all of those emails aside for a couple days so you can get back to that project and paperwork? Think again.
52% of people expect to get an answer to work-related emails within 12 to 24 hours according to a survey done by MailTime.com. That means the majority of your clients are going to be looking for your response within the same day. Try to put yourself in the client’s shoes. Say you are a customer trying to buy a product or a service: you formulate your request and hit send. How long are willing to wait for a response before you take your services elsewhere? If your answer is “no more than a day”, then you are not alone. If you aren’t willing to wait, why would you expect your customers to?
Customers expect both courteous and timely service. So naturally, the business that provides the best of both will end up having the highest customer retention. Prompt email responses are an important part of keeping your customers happy and their expectations met. Those who wait too long to respond risk upsetting customers or prospective customers. In short, if you let an important email slip through the cracks, you could risk losing your clients trust and therefore their business.
While responding to customers in a timely manner is necessary for maintaining a healthy client relationship, it is just as important to respond to your coworkers’ emails. Respect their time as you would want them to respect yours and get back to them as promptly as possible. This will help maintain healthy communication and synergy in the workplace. Not only are your coworkers relying on your prompt response when working on a project or task, but they are also relying on your input and well-thought critique or assistance. So don't respond just to get the email out of the way, take a moment to give a thorough and well thought out response to your coworker.
Not all emails can be responded to immediately, and that’s okay! The importance of responding quickly is responding in a reasonable amount of time that will provide the answers or assistance the original sender needs. We know there are going to be some lengthy emails that require more effort and time to respond back to. So, if the email isn’t something you can get to at the moment, use email features such as Outlook’s flag email messages for follow up so you remember to come back to the email when you’ve received more information or simply have time to work on a response.
Responding to emails quickly leaves your customers and colleagues feeling that you genuinely care about them and their needs. The important part of responding quickly is that you respond in a reasonable amount of time given the content of the email. As a general rule, try to aim to respond to emails within one business day.