Email Like A Business


Answering emails once a day or at selected hours has massively led to an increase in productivity for many of my peers.


Which is totally awesome. What's not awesome about it is the 500 auto responses many of them send out a day informing their email correspondents that they will not be getting to the email right away. Why do people feel that this message is necessary? I'll be honest - in most cases when I got it, I wasn't expecting an answer within 24-48 hours in the first place. Usually I'm only emailing designer peers with something super random or not time sensitive.

I can appreciate that sometimes messages are needed to heed off annoying clients. But here's the deal. Instead of coming up with systems to warn people that you don't answer emails all within a few hours, and that it might take 24 - let's ask these questions:

Do my clients and peers expect me to answer an email right away?

If yes, then...

Why do my clients and peers expect me to answer an email right away?

It's probably because you set the expectation. Or, more likely, they actually don't and you answered the first question wrong. 

It's time we all start emailing like businesses.

Business have busy inboxes because presumably they're serving multiple clients and well - managing a business.

Businesses don't respond to every customer call, email, Facebook message right away. (In fact, the bigger the business the harder it is to get in touch with them. Talked to your bank lately? I haven't.)

Businesses don't get bad reviews for answering emails promptly within 24 hours, unless they deal with emergency services which last time I checked design is not.

Businesses might set hours or schedules for internal tasks and the public never needs to know (because honestly, they probably don't care). 

And meanwhile, here's a little secret info about clients...

Unless a client is told to expect otherwise, most people are happy with their emails answered within a day (or two when they aren't in an active project). What might make an otherwise positive review less positive - getting auto response emails to every message they send informing them that email is not that important on your list of priorities, and will be dealt with later. This message tells them these things:

They aren't the priority

You value your time over the money they paid you (likely true - but not something you say to them)

You might not even be busy, but you've set this rule so you aren't going to answer.

So how about we all get back to acting like real businesses - and make it a little harder (albeit not very hard) to get in touch with us.

Tl;DR. Can we all skip telling the world and clients about our cool new "check email once a day" system, and let them assume we're busy like normal businesses are. Answering within 24 (even 48) hours is GREAT customer service.