Do you ever feel like you're tied to your email inbox?... Almost like the unread messages are a weight hanging around your neck, suffocating you and pulling you into the murky waters below?
According to Forbes, the average worker receives at least 200 messages each day, which accounts for 2.5 hours of time spent reading and replying to those emails. That's a lot of busy work and our brain was not made to work under the continuous condition of stress that email, phone calls, texts, etc. put us through.
Our bodies are constructed for pro-activeness and acting upon things, not being reactive and being acted upon.
In a 2005 study done by a psychiatrist at Kings College in London, 3 groups of people underwent a study to examine this principle by performing a standard IQ test.
- The first group did nothing but complete the IQ test.
- The second group was distracted by email and phone calls.
- The third group was under the influence of marijuana (high)
It should not be a surprise that the first group performed better than the other two groups (by an average of 10 points), but it was shocking to learn that second group (those distracted by emails and phone calls) scored an average of 6 points less than those who were stoned!
We are not condoning the use of marijuana (or any other drugs) by stating this study, but we do think it is a very interesting thing to consider as we look at how to be most productive. The simple addition of interruption (by email and phone calls) and moving the individual from proactively completing the IQ test was enough to throw them off... whereas simply slowing the brain down at least kept it moving in one direction (towards completing the IQ test).
To state it again, (this time however in relation to how our brains work)... Our brains are constructed for pro-activeness and acting upon things, not being reactive and being acted upon.
I know what you might be thinking though: "I'm a busy professional, how am I supposed to manage it all and still stay on top of everything? The emails never stop. Are you asking me to simply not check my email all day? Won't that just make it worse?"
Well, that's a great question and it's fine to think that way... but your competition isn't. They are experiencing the same thing you are, but the second they embrace where things are going (speedier turnaround times and increased awareness of how Customer Perception plays into a long-term relationship), your customers might just be thinking about your competition more than you.
Here's one sure-fire tactic that any busy person or business can implement in the Customer Care Department: Use an Email Auto-Responder.
But don't just "set it and forget it" like a crock pot saying you're busy or on vacation. Use an Email Auto-Responder to free up your brain space so you can actually stay to one task and make sure it makes you look good- not lazy.
Here is a good example of an Auto Responder that actually builds value into the services you are offering and your involvement in the process:
Thanks for the email! I just wanted to let you know that I received your email and will reply back at my earliest convenience (I check my email at 9am, 12:30pm and 4pm each day) and outside of that time I work hard to complete everything to continue giving you level of care and service you deserve.
So please look for an email back from me shortly, and if this is a matter that requires more urgent attention, please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.
Thanks a lot and talk to you soon
Another great use of an Email Autoresponder can come at vacation time... but not just to say you're leaving on a vacation. Build more value into the email the person will receive and emphasize your companies values. Here is an email from a Customer Care Rep at Coed Monkey, an online custom t-shirt company when one of their teammates was not in the office for a few days:
Thanks for the email! I am out of the office the rest of today (Wednesday, 11/29) and will also be out of the office all day Thursday and Friday traveling. But, I want to make sure you get the 6-Star Customer Care you deserve (since Google only allows us 5), so I'll plan to follow up on emails once I get back on Monday! If you have already placed an order, production will be continuing as previously communicated to meet your in-hands date. If you have any urgent order-related questions, please email Jenna (this actual email linked her email address to her name) or call in to our main line at 877-874-4781 and one of our team members will assist you.
I will look forward to connecting with you when I return :-)
Thanks a lot and talk to you soon!"
Both of these Autoresponders are brilliant for a few reasons:
- They are cheery and filled with some personality.
- They reiterates the company's core value (6-Star Customer Care - since Google only allows them 5)
- It establishes trust in the fact that the customer will (in fact), get back to the customer.
- They buy the employee time to get back to the client, while giving the client an opportunity to give more information if needed- or contact someone else at the company if the employee is out.
What would you do with all the freed up time if you simply set yourself up to proactively approach your email, instead of living with the anchor around your neck and reacting to each and every email throughout the day? What would that mean to your teams efficiency and your company's bottomline?