Email: How, What and When
Email is a fickle communication tool. What can be an effective and efficient way of messaging can, in many ways, turn out to be the exact opposite. Many struggle with email and this has been a vocal point of many of my courses. Everyone has different approaches to managing email but here is what I have seen in practice work best:
When to Reply: In some form or fashion, we are all in customer service. To serve our clients appropriately, responsiveness is key. I believe (as much as reasonably possible) that all emails should be responded to within a 24-hour period. I realize that might not be possible and we might not have the answer….but acknowledgement is key.
What to Reply: Short and simple responses are always preferred. If they cannot be responded to in this manner, the mode of communication should be considered. This might take on a personal mode of communication, via telephone or in person. The ideal length of emails is between three to five sentences. Additionally, as noted above, acknowledgement is key. If you don’t know the answer and will not get to it for a few days, state such and response time will not be as relevant moving forward.
How to Reply: Only utilize smart devices when responsiveness is key. If the response should be well thought out and could be misinterpreted (which can happen frequently via email), then consider NOT responding on your smart phone. The natural inclination is to respond immediately and that might be too reactionary versus taking more time to consider the answer.
Next, we will work on tackling the decision point on what mode should be used to communicate: email, in person or telephone.