There’s been a discussion on one VA forum about whether they have both phone and email listed on their site or just one of those choices? Some are for both, some for only one. Neither is a wrong or right answer, it is purely what works for them.
However, it does lead me to think about the frustration I know that many people must experience if their emails go left unanswered for many days, or sometimes weeks. I don’t believe that VAs fall into this category. Our businesses are very much about being run virtually and so email is our lifeline to our daily bread and butter. But it amazes me how many companies, or should I say large corporates and government departments, mainly, that don’t answer their email.
I am of the belief that email is just as important as the phone and needs to be answered. On the day it’s arrived if possible. I make it a rule that I answer all important email within an hour or so of it arriving whenever possible. But the key word here is ‘important’ and perhaps herein lies the reason why email isn’t answered quickly. People haven’t learnt to use rules or systems to organise the receipt of their email.
I use Outlook and use the Rules Wizard extensively. All email from existing clients is immediately put into their folders when it arrives. Email from newsletters and discussion groups are automatically filed into their corresponding folders. In fact, any email that I might receive on a regular basis has a home to be put into. It’s only those that aren’t regular email, i.e. either spam (if it gets through my spam filter) or new enquiries and similar that end up in my inbox at all. Makes it easy to very quickly go through email that has arrived overnight first thing in the morning, therefore keeping my inbox at a low number. And all new email are clearly indicated with a bold heading and number in brackets in those folders that are reserved for everything else. So I can see if John Smith has sent new email immediately. I can see that a number of emails have arrived overnight from LinkedIn groups, and so on. I can then choose when I want to read those emails and when to action them.
So, it really, really irks me when I need or want to hear from someone that I’ve emailed only to realise several days later I’ve not heard from them. sigh. Means I have to go look up their phone number and ring them. It also demonstrates to me that side of their business isn’t being run efficiently and makes me wonder about the rest of their business. What do you think?