What is a Standard Email Response Time Policy and Why Do You Need One?
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 a Standard Email Response Time Policy?
A standard email response time policy ensures that your customers, leads, and team members are never left waiting hours or days for a reply to an email.
Your policy will be internal documentation that outlines the expected length of time it will take to reply to an email received from anyone involved in some way with your business, such as customers, leads, team members, and suppliers.
What is The Standard Response Time for Answering Email?
Now, just because you’re making your standard email response time official, it doesn’t mean you should set unrealistic expectations for your staff.
The standard email response time will depend on your industry, customer type, and primary use cases for email.
If you’re selling expensive products or services to B2B customers, they’ll expect a fast response to any questions they have for you.
On the other hand, if you’re a B2C company, your customers may not expect an immediate response (however, the faster you respond, the better your brand will look in their eyes).
The majority of people (50%) respond to work-related emails within ~2 hours.
Other data shows from USC Viterbi says that the most likely reply time is 2 minutes; however, that extends to personal email as well.
The data also showed that 90% of all email responses are sent within two days if they are going to be replied to at all.
Why is Email Response Time Important for Business?
With the advent of Slack and other similar real-time communication tools for business, it’s easy to communicate with coworkers, so we’re quick to forget the importance of email.
Email is still the number one way to communicate with customers and sales leads.
How quickly you reply to an email is a nonverbal but impactful cue to your customers and leads, and how quickly you respond to their emails sets the expectations for your service, and 80% of customers highlight that speed is a vital part of customer service.
Would you choose to work with a new vendor if they took regularly took days to respond to your emails?
Benefits of Having a Fast Email Standard Reply Time
1. Close More Sales
If you up your email game, you’re going to close more deals with new customers. Email is 40x more effective than social media for new customer acquisition because it’s personal, and you can have one-to-one conversations with new sales leads.
When your customers are in the market and talking to you, they’re also talking to your competitors to find the best vendor for them.
If you respond quickly to their questions and leave them feeling good about your interaction, you’re giving yourself the best chance of closing them as a new customer.
2. Improve Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty
B2B customers that receive excellent customer service are 62% more likely to purchase again from a company.
If you can provide great customer service by responding quickly and with the answers, your customers are looking for, they’re going to stick around for longer.
Image credit: Zendesk
If you’re a B2C business, there are benefits to be had as well, with 42% of customers being more likely to make a repeat purchase if you provide excellent customer service.
How to Create Your Standard Reply Time Policy
Ready to create your standard email response time policy?
There are a few things to consider.
- What industry are you in?
- B2B or B2C?
- How will you measure success?
All of these are worth thinking about.
For example, if you’re a software company providing expensive software to B2B customers, your standard email response time policy will be different from a B2C company that sells a product for $10/mo.
Regardless, here’s how you should approach your policy.
1. Set KPIs and Goals
If you’re implementing a standard email reply time policy, you need to get your whole team on board with it.
If not, it will fail.
You should motivate your team by creating KPIs and goals for a standard email reply time, just as you would for any other relevant business metric in sales, marketing, or for your product.
Here are some examples of goals you could set:
- “90% of emails from new leads replied to within 1 hour”
- “All support emails from existing customers replied to within 2 hours”
If you receive complicated requests, then it might take time to compile accurate answers to send customers or leads.
In these cases, you should still send a quick follow up to reassure your customer that you got their email, and you’re going to get back to them shortly with a full response.
Even if you didn’t answer their question, they’re now not going to be waiting for a response and have realistic expectations of when you’ll get back to them with an answer.
2. Be Realistic
Having a standard email response time policy is a fantastic way to incentivize fast email responses, but you need to manage it correctly.
If your goals are unrealistic or you expect your employees to reply to emails at all hours, the only result will be burnout.
When creating your policy, consider adding rules that allow employees to check out of replying to emails after a specific time, like 5 or 6pm (you can easily setup your business hours in timetoreply).
If you have a contact form on your website for inquiries, then consider adding a line of text that mentions your business hours. Even if a customer fills it out during the middle of the night, they’ll know not to expect an immediate response.
3. Measure Success with timetoreply
If you’re serious about your standard email response time policy, you’re going to need a robust system in place to measure success.
timetoreply can help.
It allows you to track your email response time across your customer-facing teams, from sales to customer service, to account management.
You’ll be able to set goals, see email response analytics across teams and individuals, as well as trends.
If you notice anomalies in email responses, you can flag them, and put systems in place to ensure that all customer-facing emails get answered quickly, going forward.
Considering 78% of sales go to the first company to reply, you’re going to be missing out on revenue if you don’t track your email performance.
Implementing a standard email response time policy is the perfect way to encourage you and your team to follow up with all incoming sales inquiries and customer support questions in a defined timeframe.
Once your policy is in place, your business will see the benefits.
Your sales team will have an advantage over your competitors as new leads are never left waiting, and your levels of customer satisfaction will increase.
There are considerations you need to think about to determine the right policy for your company, but as long as you set realistic and measurable goals for your team, you’re bound to see success.
If you’re looking to start measuring and improving your email reply time, start your free trial of timetoreply today.