General automated email replies are a source of frustration for your clients and business partners especially when they email you directly. 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? Most likely you hung up frustrated because of the time it took and still did not have an answer. That is your customer or business partner walking away and finding a different solution provider.
91% of couples say that getting an email response within 24 hours or– Liene, Think Splendid
lessmatters when deciding who to hire, and over half (52%) rank it as “very important.
Common Email Mistakes
- 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.
- Many small business owners or
solopreneursleave their autoresponder on 24/7. I have also received auto-responses to email campaigns for which they signed up.
- Often autoresponders are used as a crutch to buy extra time to respond. I understand this, however, your customer will find someone who has time.
- It gives the appearance whether you mean to or not that your time is more important than the person you are serving.
- Businesses use autoresponders as a catch-all for 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.
Business is built on relationships.
How can you make the client experience enjoyable?
When Should Email 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
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. As a business owner, you are commission based. Your income is not fixed nor guaranteed. Commission based earners seize every opportunity.
You can create boundaries for when you are available and when you choose to respond. However the myth of “entrepreneurial freedom” and responding only when you have time is not a reality.
When Can Automation Be Used?
Automation is best for email subscriber campaigns
Email campaigns, when done well, allow you to connect with subscribers and clients to move them along a path that provides value to them.
Example: Creating sequences to share information that enhances the client experience during onboarding, the fulfillment process, and after delivery.
Best Practices for Managing Inbox Inquiries
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.
- Sales – “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 or Acuity.
- Service – “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 a process to respond promptly and efficiently based on the email instead of using autoresponders as a crutch for extra time.
- Create an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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
- Links to custom contact forms for specific needs (speaking, collaborations, etc.)
If you will be unavailable due to extended absence, illness, vacation then
- 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.
At the end of the day, business carries on whether you are available to reply to email or not. However, when you have processes in place, you are able to take advantage of opportunities and be proactive in serving clients well.