Email is integral to the workplace—but managing your email can be hugely time-consuming and frustrating.
Unfortunately, messy email management is not only annoying to deal with for you and your team; it can also spell customer service disaster.
If your customers are regularly getting conflicting information, no response at all, or having to wait too long to hear from you, it looks bad for your business—and your customers might not stay customers for long. And, acquiring new customers is generally a lot more expensive than retaining the ones you have. To add to insult to injury, bad email management might also be putting your business’s security at risk.
Most businesses struggle with variations of the same four email problems:
- Customers have to wait too long for responses
- Your customers get multiple responses (or no response at all)
- Too many people are logging into the same inbox, which presents security risks (and the risk of forgetting shared passwords)
- Inboxes that are just so cluttered and overwhelming that they sap productivity entirely—or go ignored
1. It takes too long to answer customer emails, so customers have to wait a long time for a response
Your customers expect an email response from you in as little as one hour. Taking too much time to respond to common customer inquiries can be damaging to your business.
If your team is always answering the same type of questions, composing the same response over and over can feel like a drain on both your productivity and your time. The longer it takes for you to work through your inbox, the longer it takes for customers to get a response.
Solution: Create reusable templates and a detailed, solution-focused FAQ page
If your goal is to be more productive, consider implementing a template-type solution for frequently asked questions.
This could look like building a template library (either within an email add-on like Outpost, or as a set of documents that you store on your computer for repeated use), and creating an FAQ page so that your website visitors can find answers to their questions for themselves.
A well-thought-out FAQ page is more than just a formality; it can serve as a form of customer service, and be a place to direct customers (and cut down on the number of customer inquiries you get in the first place).
2. Your customers get multiple responses (or no response at all)
Does your business use general email addresses for particular types of questions or areas of your company? This type of email address might look like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com address. Setting up multiple inboxes makes sense for many businesses—but unless you set them up with solid email management in mind, it can definitely get confusing.
Who is in charge of responding to what email? How can you see, holistically, how many emails you have to deal with? And what if you need to touch base with a team member about how to respond to a specific message?
Not having a clear way to answer these questions can mean that customers get the wrong information, or worse, that they don’t get a response at all—problems that impact your business beyond just being annoying to manage on the backend.
Solution: Make sure everyone is on the same page about your email processes as a company
Solving this email problem is down to being more clear about who is responsible for what. While that sounds easy, the reality is that learning how to delegate and organize work within businesses can be complicated.
Nevertheless, there are a variety of ways to handle collaborating in multiple inboxes more smoothly. Getting clear on who is in charge of what is paramount; this means delegating work to specific team members and setting up processes that you can stick to. Maybe this means adding new tools to your workflow, or just a more clearly defined process that your team is all on board with. For example, perhaps certain team members are assigned to a specific inbox or rotating who responds to what by days of the week.
3. Too many people are logging into the same inbox, which presents security risks (and the risk of forgetting shared passwords)
It’s a common problem to have—let’s say your company has an firstname.lastname@example.org email, where customers contact you requesting more information. If you’re a small company, you probably have multiple team members who log into that inbox and reply to customer inquiries.
This can be difficult to manage; when multiple people are logging into the same inbox, you’re likely sharing login information. Sharing passwords isn’t just confusing; it can put your business at risk. Plus, the more people who have to remember the login info, the more opportunities there are for someone to forget the login info—and you’ll have to share it repeatedly, on a regular basis.
Solution: Better shared inbox and password management
Overall, solving this problem is about two things: managing your email more securely, and making sure you have solid overall systems for shared inbox management.
Your email security is likely at risk, so it’s a good idea to set up systems to minimize the risk associated with your business email. To share passwords more securely, avoid sharing login information when possible. Consider reassessing who really needs access to the inbox, to minimize the frequency of sharing login info.
You may also want to look into a password management solution, which will allow your team to log into one inbox without using the same shared password. Shared team inboxes also eliminate the need for shared passwords, as everyone has their own login information. So, looking into a shared inbox add-on might be an option to consider.
4. Your inbox is a cluttered mess, and it’s so stressful to look at it that you avoid it
What if your email is just an overall disaster?
You’re not alone—countless business owners struggle with the deluge of emails they receive every day.
Instead of throwing your hands up and assuming you’ll be chained to your disorganized inbox forever, the trick to solving this problem is putting systems in place to make your email work for you, not against you.
Solution: Commit to a clear(er) inbox and implement better email management practices
Maintaining an email inbox (or several) that is more organized overall has a few different components.
First, it’s about figuring out what works for you. Inbox zero might not be the answer; maybe a stress-free, manageable inbox means a weekly clear out, or maybe it means you only touch your inbox for an hour at the start of each workday.
Finally, good email management means setting up systems going forward that will keep your email more organized in the future. For instance, making a commitment with your team to avoid inbox-cluttering CCs and forwards (here’s why), or using Slack to handle quick questions, rather than sending an email about them.
At Outpost, it’s our goal to provide solutions to these problems. We definitely recommend giving Outpost a try, as we designed it specifically to help teams work through their email problems easily. That being said, there are multiple different ways to tackle these problems.
Again—it’s about making your email work for you, by setting up systems that work within your business.
Posted in Email