Standard email response times policy & etiquette you should know

Replying to email fast is a competitive advantage.

No one likes waiting days for a reply to their email, and your customers and leads will agree.

If you want to ensure your customers are never left waiting for a response, it’s worth considering implementing a standard email response time policy.

Okay, it sounds like another boring piece of documentation.

But the reality is, any company that prides itself on responding quickly to emails has a competitive advantage over its competitors.

In this article, I’m going to walk you through why you should consider implementing a standard email response time policy in your company.

What is the average email response time?

The average email response time for sales leads is 42 hours. Sound slow? It is! Especially when you consider that companies that reply to an inbound sales query within an hour are 60 times more likely to qualify that lead than those that took a day to respond.

In truth, many variables may affect email response time, such as whether the email relates to work, a sale or customer service. Even the age of the responder can make a difference.

For example, one study found that teens were the quickest to reply, with an average email response time of 13 minutes, while those over 51 took an average of 47 minutes to respond.

For customer service, the timelines look a little different. In a study of over 1000 companies, the average email response time to handle a customer service request was 12 hours.

And yet, our culture of instant gratification means many customers would feel frustrated by the slow response. This may even cause them to switch to a more responsive competitor.

Lowering the average response time should be a top priority for every sales and customer service team.

Sales email response time

Did you know that up to 50% of sales go to the company that responds to the sales query first? That is right! Improving your sales email response time leads to a better conversion rate and more sales.

You are spending valuable money to generate sales leads. Don’t lose the lead because your team takes too long to respond. This is a waste of valuable marketing spend.

Sales teams should focus on getting that first reply to a prospective customer within an hour. Take any longer, and you risk losing that lead to a more responsive competitor.


🔵 Sales email response time tip:

Set a benchmark for average sales email response time and measure your sales agents and teams against that. This provides greater transparency over potential bottlenecks and helps sales teams self-manage their performance.

Customer support and service response time

A positive customer experience is one of the most critical factors in a company’s success. Customer experience is considered to be the crucial deciding factor when it comes to customers choosing between competitors.

That is what makes the next stat so surprising. In a study of more than 1000 companies, nearly 60% of companies did not respond to a customer service request.

Customers feel they aren’t all that important to you when customer service requests go unanswered. That’s no way to build long-term loyalty and a happy customer base. Any business that consistently ignores its customers is unlikely to survive in this competitive market.

When customers receive quick and satisfactory responses to their requests, you build goodwill that can improve your retention and drive higher levels of customer loyalty. Fast email response times are essential for those who want to offer a top-quality customer experience for their customers.

🔵 Customer service email response time tip:

Up your customer response game by using purpose-designed software. Look for an automation tool that allows you to set custom response time thresholds. Ensure your team receives an alert when an email is approaching that threshold. This way, you will never miss an email or leave it too long.

Business response time

Did you know the average office worker receives 121 emails every single day?

That’s a lot of communication to keep track of. Email volume is expected to grow due to the rising popularity of remote and hybrid work.

While some teams will use messaging platforms like Slack for internal collaboration, many still choose email as their primary communication channel.

With so many emails to keep track of, it can be hard to ensure you respond within timeously.

🔵 Business email response time tip:

Develop a standard email response time policy to formalise email response time expectations. Put tools in place to track and measure average response times. This provides helpful insights into team performance and areas for improvement.

Main email response time challenges for teams

Many sales and customer service teams face challenges that hinder quick email responses, including:

1️⃣ No formal policy to guide email response times

Many companies don’t have guidelines in place to communicate what the preferred response time is. When there are no clear guidelines, team members respond when they can. This approach often means response times are slow and inconsistent.

2️⃣ Lack of visibility over key email metrics

Most major email platforms do not track essential email metrics such as response times, making it impossible to see where improvements are needed. With timetoreply, companies can track and measure average response times and team members’ performance regardless of which email platform is used.

3️⃣ Not understanding which emails are urgent

When companies receive so many emails, it is essential to understand which emails should get the most attention first. High-value emails require immediate attention, whilst low-value emails can be put into the queue. If teams spend too much time on low-value email tasks, unnecessary bottlenecks occur.

What is a professional email response time standard policy?

A professional email response time policy is a company’s formal commitment to quickly and efficiently respond to customer and prospect emails.

With an email response time policy in place, your customer service and sales teams will have clear guidance over the time allowed between incoming queries and their responses.

This helps maintain high levels of customer service and improves sales teams’ success.

The importance of email response time

How we communicate – in business and life – has changed markedly over the past few years. Remember a time before smartphones and social media? Staying in touch with people was a lot harder back then.

Today, companies use various communication tools and platforms to maintain contact with teams and ensure high levels of support to customers and prospects.

However, email is still hugely important. In fact, more people and companies prefer email over any other channel.

The ability to respond quickly to customer questions or follow up with an inbound sales lead can directly contribute to business success. That’s why leading companies have formal policies guiding their teams over how quickly they need to respond to emails.

Benefits of having a fast email standard reply time

Companies can unlock amazing benefits by boosting email reply time. Let’s look at the top benefits of having a quick email standard reply time.

Benefit #1 – Boost customer loyalty

Excellent customer service is the foundation of good customer retention strategies. When customers receive high levels of care, they are 62% more likely to purchase from you again.

A quick email reply time is essential to every successful customer service strategy. Helping customers find information quickly or resolve issues creates a smooth, positive customer experience that boosts customer loyalty.

Benefit #2 – Close more sales

Any company wishing to boost conversion rates and close more sales needs to note that nearly 8 in 10 sales go to the first company to reply to a sales query. As email’s popularity grows, these sales leads will likely be acquired via email.

Fast email reply times ensure every prospective customer gets the information, care and attention they need. When prospective customers receive high levels of care during the sales process, they’re more likely to recommend you to friends and colleagues.

How to measure email response time

You can measure your average response time by tracking the time it takes for a customer to receive a response to their email.

Tools, such as timetoreply, track first response times, average response times over a series of emails, and the time taken to resolve a customer request.

Beyond measuring – improving email response time using Ignite & Optimiser

timetoreply Ignite supports sales teams handling inbound email leads. Ignite enables sales teams to improve their first reply time, average reply rate, number of follow-ups per lead, the cadence/time between each follow-up,


Teams using timetoreply Ignite have access to revenue-boosting metrics. These metrics ensure that teams can identify weaknesses in the inbound sales processes that hamper their ability to close sales. Companies can continuously improve bottom-line growth by leveraging real-time data over the inbound sales process.

timetoreply Optimiser is designed to help individual users to track and measure their email performance to improve speed and efficiency. Once installed, sales reps can easily track which emails require urgent attention and which still need a response while measuring their performance against SALs and colleagues.


Both timetoreply Ignite and timetoreply Optimiser integrate with all major email platforms. A quick installation (no training necessary) is all that is needed to get started.


A standard email response time policy is a fantastic way to improve your customer service and convert more sales.

Teams that track and measure their email performance against a formal email response time policy can more easily make improvements that raise the bar on customer service.

Get in touch with us to start a 15-day no-strings free trial and boost your sales and customer service capabilities.


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