How to Manage Your Inbox: Part 1
Autoresponders are a source of frustration for your clients and business partners. At best they let someone know you are on vacation with no wifi and at worst they are the death of sale.
Have you ever called a customer service hotline and wanted to talk to a live representative without going through a menu of options and recorded answers? You hung up frustrated because of the time it took and you still did not have an answer. That is your customer or business partner walking away and finding a different solution provider.
- Using an auto-reply for your first interaction with a client who contacts you directly or via your website. You should never be too busy to respond to a potential client promptly.
91% of couples say that getting an email response within 24 hours or less matters when deciding who to hire, and over half (52%) rank it as “very important. – Liene, Think Splendid
- Many small business owners or solopreneurs leave their autoresponder in vacation mode or out-of-office 24/7. It is used as a crutch for extra time to respond. It gives the appearance whether you mean too or not that your time is more important than the person you are serving. I have seen this many times whether I contact someone directly or through their website. I have also been sent an auto-response to email campaigns for which they signed up.
- Businesses use autoresponders as a catch-all for the FAQ. Addressing every possible major scenario is not personable or helpful.
- The length of the auto-response is a blog post. No one has time for that. It is not an effective use of your client’s time and they will not read it. It also does not move your business process or communication forward.
- Using an auto-response to tell people that you are busy with another client or working on a project. New and existing clients do not care. They want to know when and how you can help them.
When can autoresponders be used?
In the rare event, you are remote with no access to Wifi. As a small business owner, every email is a potential customer or referee. How quickly and well you respond to them sets the tone for the relationship.
It also requires a mindset shift from hourly employee to commission based earner. Hourly employees clock out at 5 pm. Commission based earners realize a sale can happen anytime and anywhere. Commission based earners seize every opportunity.
How should email automation be used?
Automation is best for email lists when someone has chosen to opt-in to your mailing list. The auto response confirms their subscription and lets them know what to expect next.
Automation for email lists, when done well, allows you to connect with leads, customers, vendors, business partners and share your story with them. You can create sequences to share Information to enhance their experience during onboarding, managing expectations during fulfillment process, and after delivery.
Best Practices for Emails
Create habits and develop skills that allow you to serve your clients and use your time well. Learn to write clear, concise, and polite (please/thank you) responses. Responses do not need to be lengthy.
“Thank you for your inquiry! I would love to discuss this more with you. Please send me two specific times you are available to chat.” Or you can send them a link to your Calendly. “Thank you for your email. I will respond in more detail this afternoon. In the meanwhile here is a helpful resource: www.example.com.”
“Thank you for your inquiry! I would love to discuss this more with you. Please send me two specific times you are available to chat.”
Or you can send them a link to your Calendly.
“Thank you for your email. I will respond in more detail this afternoon. In the meanwhile here is a helpful resource: www.example.com.”
Create systems to respond promptly and efficiently based on the email instead of using autoresponders as a crutch for extra time.
- Create an email (email@example.com) specifically for sales inquiries. Then create a rule in your inbox to alert you when you receive emails to this specific address. It allows you to quickly respond to leads and not miss sales opportunities.
- Create a system that prioritizes emails based on their type and needs.
- Sales – immediate
- Service – depending on nature within a business hour or two.
- Create email templates for common situations that can be personalized.
- Add Frequently Asked Questions page to your website.
- Review existing copy on your website for clarity and to help reduce questions.
Make your contact page proactive in setting client’s expectations.
- Hours of Operation,
- Link to FAQ page
- Links to custom contact forms for specific needs (speaking, collaborations, etc.)
If you will be unavailable due to extended absence, illness, vacation then communicate with your clients upfront. Let them know what to expect.
- When you will be back.
- Status of the project and when you will provide an update.
- What to do in the event of an emergency and who to contact.
- List of resources they can access while you are unavailable.
What email tips would you add?