Last week, I discussed one of the major ways that the way you are sending emails could be hurting your business. Today, I want to share with you how the way you are responding to emails could be hurting your business. It’s not the most fun topic, but it’s SO important…so let’s just dive in!
How Responding to Emails Could Be Hurting Your Business
Here is the general rule of thumb when it comes to responding to your emails: try to respond within 24 hours if you can, however, 24-48 hours is an acceptable amount of time to respond. Any longer than that, and you will find yourself losing business! We certainly don’t want that, now do we?
If you are incredibly busy and you find that you aren’t able to respond to emails for 48-72 hours during your workweek, I would recommend you do one of two things.
- Set an auto responder so your clients will know when to expect to hear back from you, or
- Hire an assistant to handle your emails.
Waiting longer than 72 hours to respond to an email during the week (unless there is a serious emergency) is going to end up costing you business. Whether it’s a bride inquiring with you for her wedding day, or a photographer inquiring with you about your photo editing services, you will lose that client if they think you will not be responding to them.
*Quick disclaimer: if you have business hours during the week and you are not in the office responding to emails over the weekend, that is completely fine! I myself do not answer emails over the weekend and do not count Saturday and Sunday in the 24-72 hour mark that I mentioned above.
Think of it this way: taking a really long time to respond to emails makes your client feel that you either
- Don’t want or need their business
- Don’t care enough about them to respond
- Won’t be reliable in the future when they hire you
Emailing When You’re on Vacation
If you are on vacation, make sure you have you vacation auto responder on letting your clients know that you are currently out of town, you will have limited or no access to emails, and you will respond to them when you are back in town (make sure you let them know the date you’ll be back in the office responding to emails). After returning home from vacation, make sure you dedicate a good chunk of time to be in your office returning those emails when you said you would. People will be expecting to hear from you!
Not Responding to Emails
One of the worst disservices you can do for your business is not reply to an email at all. I can’t tell you how many of my current clients came to me, and after my quick response said, “I’m so glad to hear from you! I inquired with someone else, but they never responded.” It’s shocking how often this happens! Even if you don’t want to work with someone, you still need to respond to them letting them know (and try to give a reason if you can!). I’ve gotten referrals from people I didn’t even get a chance to work with because I nicely referred them to someone else who I thought was a better fit for their style. They appreciated it, and I still ended up getting referrals even though I didn’t work with them. It’s not only good customer service, but it will leave a good impression on them even if you aren’t able to work with them.
To give you an example of how this can negatively affect your business, I want to share a real experience I had with another business just a few months ago. I recently emailed the leader of a conference that is coming to my town in a few months. I explained how the conference changed the course of my business (in an amazing way) and how I was very eager to volunteer to work at their upcoming conference. I wanted to give back to them and I was finally at a place in my business where I was able to do so. After sending the email, I got an auto response saying that I would hear back in the next 24-48 hours. A week went by with no reply. I sent a follow-up email restating how I was very eager to volunteer for the conference and that I was looking forward to talking with them more. I received an actual email back (not an auto-responder) that said that they had received my email, and that they’d be letting me know about volunteering within the next couple of days. So, I got a long email about how they’d get back to me, but in the time it took to write that email, they could have just said, “We would love to have you volunteer! We are so busy right now, but we will follow up with you closer to the conference date!” or “I’m so sorry, but we do not need anymore volunteers at this time, but we will gladly notify you for the next conference if you are still interested in volunteering!” (or something to that degree). I was fine with the response, and waited for their next email. Two weeks after that second email, I followed up one more time, just expressing my continued interest in volunteering…no reply at all (I got the same generic auto-response as before).
By not responding to this email, the person running this conference just lost out on a volunteer – someone who was willing to take time off away from their business to donate their time to help out *for free*. By not getting a response after two follow-up emails, this makes me feel that my time is not valued and I’m not important because my business isn’t big enough. In the future, it’s very unlikely that I’ll be contacting this conference to volunteer, and instead I’ll be contacting other conference leaders who will hopefully appreciate my time more. This case would have been VERY different if I had gotten a response merely stating that they didn’t need volunteers for this conference, and I would have asked to be considered for the next one. A response is everything, so make sure you are taking time to respond and doing so correctly!
Emails go a long way, and not taking the time to respond to a potential client is not only a disservice to your business, but to that person. If you are running a business and can’t handle the amount of emails you receive, hire someone to help you (or find another alternative that works for you). If you don’t want to work with someone, be honest with them in a way that is still helpful to them. You are providing a service, and you are going to get emails from people who aren’t going to be the right fit, but you should still be kind and courteous to them and help them find someone who will be a perfect fit for them.
I hope you find these tips useful and I hope you will start implementing them into your business TODAY! Make sure you check back next Tuesday because I’ll be talking more about the way you are asking for help could be hurting your business!