Why Marketers Need to Answer All Emails Promptly
Responding to email can seem like inbox drudgery that C-suite marketers should relegate to underlings. Or simply not do. After all, there’s customer care team to answer all emails, right?
Sure, recent research shows B2C marketers need to respond to customers within 24 hours. And Adobe found in 2018 that professionals spent 3.1 hours a day on work email. But do the higher-ups really need to respond to customers and colleagues promptly, too? Yes, says a New York Times opinion piece published on the site on Friday, in print on Sunday and loaded down with 511 comments online by Sunday night.
The Unsaid Communication of Unread Messages
“If you’re habitually ‘too busy’ to answer legitimate emails, there’s a problem with your process,” writes Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton, is the author of “Originals” and the host of the TED podcast “WorkLife.” “It sends a signal that you’re disorganized — or that you just don’t care.”
Microsoft looks at digital snubbery as a warning sign that helps the company find ineffective managers, he says.
Unresponsiveness shows you’re rude, too, says Grant.
Pretend you’re in a hallway and someone you know says “hi.”
Grant writes that an email is the same thing, only digital. And not responding to it is akin to this:
“I’m really sorry I didn’t say ‘hi,’ make eye contact or acknowledge your presence in any way when you waved to me in the hallway the other day. It’s nothing personal. I just have too many people trying to greet me these days, and I can’t respond to everyone.”
But then again, maybe you are that person who just keeps walking in the hallway — or worse.
“It turns out that people who are rude online tend to be rude offline, too.”
Senders may stop trusting unresponsive recipients, too, wrote Tasha Eurich in 2015 for Entrepreneur:
“In one study, people who took two weeks to respond to an email, or didn’t respond at all, were evaluated more harshly, assigned more negative intentions and viewed as less credible than their responsive counterparts. According to writer Margaret Heffernan, ‘How you deal with email says something fundamental about how reliable you are.’ ”
How Responding to Email Can Benefit Busy Marketers
“Clearing out your inbox can jump-start your own productivity. One set of experiments showed that if you’re behind on a task, you’ll finish it faster if you’re busy, because you know you need to use your time efficiently.”
The email may contain something that will be quicker to handle digitally rather than in yet another meeting. Also, you can quickly say, “I can’t” or “no.” (Perhaps wording it more like, “I don’t have the bandwidth to add this,” Grant writes.)
Using an autoreply email to route senders to a channel you actually use can help, too, he says.
When and How to Say ‘No’
Grant says professionals shouldn’t be required to answer emails outside of work hours, such as on nights and weekends.
Also, Grant says, don’t answer emails “if senders aren’t considerate enough to do their homework and ask a question you’re qualified to answer, you don’t owe them anything back.”
The One Exception
Business Email Etiquette writes in 2013 that emails ending “no need to reply, I just wanted to keep you in the loop” do, in fact, not require a reply.
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.