Emails. For many when we hear that word it simply makes us groan. We all know what it is like to check our inbox only to feel exhausted just by looking at how many new messages we need to action. In saying this, Harvard Business Review reports in 2012 that the communication for an average business is a whopping 86% done via email. As a society this proves it’s not just the most common form of communication it’s also the most preferred.
So why then do we still treat it as an inconvenience? How many times have you sat down and quickly skimmed through your emails, read one from a client/colleague and thought to yourself I will respond later, get sidetracked and then just forget. Personally I always feel a sense of embarrassment when someone has to send me a follow up email prompting me to respond.
Understandably we are all busy but shouldn’t responding to our clientele be one of the most important tasks if not the most important? With the shoe now on the other foot it can be equally as frustrating when we have crafted an email with an important question only to have to wait and be left wondering if the recipient has even acknowledged the email let alone read it.
Could you imagine if a client/customer approached you directly at your place of business asking for assistance and you ignored them? Bluntly said to them I am too busy now so I will have to answer you later. That doesn’t sound like great customer service. I pose the question how is this any different to ignoring a clients/customers email. We in business should not ever underestimate the reflection of bad email customer service has on us if we do not respond promptly.
When communicating via email we need to remember it is a permanent record and should be treated carefully. Tone, grammar, punctuation and of course content should all be appropriate. Well meaning jokes can be taken the wrong way and what could simply be instructions or advice could be misconstrued as blunt or arrogant. The concern with email is we cannot “read” tone or facial expressions, therefore our emails are left open to the interpretation of the reader.
One thing to watch out of is that emails can start to take over our lives and we simply cannot turn off. When away on holidays I witnessed the couple next to me experience this very thing. The husband was sitting by the pool while his kids played in the water not looking up from his smart phone. His very annoyed wife frustratingly told him she was going to “throw that thing” in the pool and to stop emailing and start spending time with his family. I personally can relate to an extent, the advances of modern technology and social media means that we are always accessible and with this comes a sense of guilt it we don’t just “check our inbox” or “send one more email”
Somewhere in between there is a middle ground. Responding to clientele with a sense of urgency is pivotal to your business but also may mean you have responded quicker than your competition, however having a work life balance is just as important.