When I worked as a case manager, my company had a policy of returning all emails within 24 hours. Many companies have similar policies. Today, I will discuss why this is an important habit to develop early and continue throughout your career.
You want a reputation of dependability and strong character. Doing a simple task such as returning all of your emails in a timely manner shows that you are dependable, responsible, and that you pay attention to the little things. Employers want to interview a person who responds promptly and professionally to emails. It is an indicator of good customer service skills. If you develop this skill early, then chances are you will develop other good customer service habits that companies and consumers want in a professional.
Seasoned professionals can benefit from this principle as well. Recruiting employees will become more difficult if you establish a reputation for not returning emails. Some potential employees will not care if you have ignored emails in the past. These potential employees will jump at any opportunity you through at them. However, other candidates have multiple options and do not want to bother with a company who did not return emails regarding potential opportunities or a follow up email regarding an interview. Consumers are likely to have the same attitude. With so many companies offering similar products and services, it is easy for a consumer to move to a company who responds quickly with the information and service that is being sought.
Some may wonder how to return all emails in 24 hours when they receive so many in a day. The answer has two parts: 1. time management; and 2. prioritizing.
Time management is going to be key to get emails returned in a timely manner. Many successful people accomplish this task by establishing routines and daily scheduling. Block out time for returning emails. Work on writing them quickly. If an email requires you to do some research, or consult with colleagues, before you give a definitive answer, then give that response to the sender and let the person know you will be in touch soon.
Prioritizing emails will help you write them faster. Some emails can be returned with a pre-written message saying you are out of the office, that you do not offer a particular service/product, that you are not hiring at this time but will file the resume, etc. Other emails may be able to be copied and pasted, such as job inquires to similar companies. You may receive some emails that require greater attention to detail than others. Not all emails have the same priority level, yet all should be returned. The key to know which you need to answer right then, and which you can give a quick response with the promise to follow up later with more information. If you can transfer a email to a colleague that can better answer the question (without being a burden to your colleague) then you may do that.
There is no excuse for not returning emails quickly. It is a bad habit that will not be easily smoothed over with employers, consumers, or potential employees. If you are failing at this practice because you do not know how to write professional emails or you do not know how to plan your days, then stay tuned to the blog.