It’s about time we had a little discussion about email. It is one of the biggest challenges I see agents dealing with every day.
I bet you know what I mean. It starts in the morning like a slow drip of a faucet – one, two, three, and then suddenly there are ten email messages waiting for you. Before you know it, your inbox is cluttered.
You respond throughout the day. You want to stay ahead of it all. Then, you’re about to pack it in for the day. You think your work is over but you decide to check your email one last time. Bam! A barrage of new emails sits there, waiting to be answered.
It’s enough to make you pull your hair out, isn’t it? But email can be manageable – if you learn how to manage it. Here are a few email management tips:
Tip #1: Don’t check your email forty-five times a day.
You may think you’re being responsive, but you’re really only helping those who you can help right away. If you can provide a quick answer, you reply right on the spot. Done.
But there are other emails that require a little work and a longer response. You put those on the back burner to take care of later. These emails often get neglected or even lost.
It is much better to have a dedicated time set up to answer all emails. Then, you can be sure that everybody is getting equal attention – not just the people who send you easy questions that can be answered quickly.
Tip #2: Organize by folder.
When it comes to that time to sit down and answer emails, it helps greatly if you have your emails organized by folder. I like to set up folders for Past Clients, Current Clients, and Potential Clients. Every new client should get a folder so that every email has a home once it’s been read and responded to.
I also highly recommend that you have a folder named Waiting For Response. How many times have you sent somebody an email and you think it’s done? Well, it’s not done until you have a response. By having a folder you can open up to check, you know exactly what you’re waiting on.
I send myself a copy of whatever email requires a response. Then, I file it into my Waiting For Response folder.
Tip #3: Color-code your emails.
It is also critical that you learn how to use color-coding in your email. This is a really easy way to visually help you see what needs to get done now. When I look at my inbox, I know by the color which emails need my attention first. This is a productive tool that everybody should put to good use.
Tip #4: Don’t send out too many autoresponders.
Autoresponders are a great marketing tool, but they are overused. I can’t tell you how many times I send a personal email to somebody only to get back an autoresponder message that promises they will get back to me. More often than not, they never get back to me.
Personally, I’d rather get a personal message from the recipient, even if it’s not immediate. Make sure you don’t overuse autoresponder functions.
Tip #5: Have a set time every day to handle more complicated emails.
When I answer my emails, I take care of all the simple ones first. I color code the ones that need more attention so that I can spend more time on them later.
Then, I have a separate time each day specifically to work on the more complicated emails by themselves – giving them the attention they deserve. I find that this system keeps emails from getting backed up.
If it’s going to take some time for me to get back to the person, I’ll send a quick reply that says, “I got your email today. There are some things I need to put together to be able to complete this, so you can expect a response back from me on Thursday. Does that work for you?”
This way, you at least let the person know you’re working on whatever it was they asked of you. It’s a personal touch that goes a long way toward good communication with clients.
If there’s one thing that irks me, it’s when I send an email requesting something of somebody and they don’t respond until the project is done. Keep me informed so that I know when to expect the completed work.
Email is a fact of life. Email etiquette is one of the ways that your clients judge you. They watch you and see how you handle basic communication.
Communication and response time have always been at the top of the list of things that make it or break it for clients. So are you making it or breaking it for your clients? If not, then take these email tips to heart and start using them today.
By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI