Paul Castain's Blog

What’s Reasonable When It Comes To Email Response Time?

Posted April 22, 2013

Do you believe in reading each email the millisecond it hits your smart phone and responding equally as fast?

On one hand . . . You get a gold star for replying quickly. You might also limit the probability of missing an opportunity.

On the other hand, both acts interrupt something else you were doing and can quickly contribute to time management challenges. In many cases, reps allow it to interrupt valuable face time with their clients/prospects.

Just out of curiosity . . .

What’s a reasonable response time when it comes to responding to email?

Do your clients/prospects expect an immediate reply from you?

Is this based on your personal preferences and/or assumptions or have you actually asked?

Please weigh in with your thoughts.

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  • My goal is to always respond that the message has been received within an hour of receiving it. Email is disruptive but less so than the telephone which I also answer immediately. As a service provider I want my clients to know that I am responsive and I always have their back.

  • Dave A

    Although it is nice if e-mails are returned within an hour, I understand not everyone is chained to their PCs. If you are traveling or actually doing work (manufacturing, etc.), then responding to an incoming e-mail will take longer. But certainly e-mails should be dealt with within a day, 2 if there are extreme circumstances (weekends do not count in this). And if you are traveling for long periods of time, either have a default message telling senders this, or have an assistant that can go through your messages.

    There’s my two cents worth!


  • John Schafer

    I tell my sales team they have 24 hours to respond to emails. When did we decide that emails warranted an immediate response?

  • korycochran

    If it is a client issue, then I try to respond immediately. If I get the email over the weekend, it may take anywhere from a few hours to 48 hours. What I hate, is when you email someone, you get an email notification it has been read, then they do not reply for 2-5 days.. That is a little frustrating when it is a vendor.

    On another note, Paul, if you permit it, I would like to recommend , for MS Outlook users. It allows you to see who, and when an email has been read, and see trend information (analytics). It does this, without having to have the customer “send” you a receipt. It’s all automatic. Being I send a lot of email to prospects and customers alike,I like to see when they open a link (it tracks that, as well), so I can call them right then. Also, if I’ve been unable to reach them, then I will email them at the time they most often read email, and call them as well, because good chance they are on their phone, or on the computer, obviously. I’m not in any way a paid endorser for or stockholder, or anything of that sort. I do believe they have a valuable selling tool using their Outlook Add-in service, which is very affordable.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share, Paul.
    -Kory Cochran

  • Nusair Bawla

    I have never asked a client of what they expect in terms of response time. To me, the faster I respond, the better. And for the most part, I respond within a day. And even that has two variables.

    1-Subject of the email
    If the email is a simple yes/no kind of email or something along those lines, then I reply right away. What’s the sense in letting those kinds of emails pile up. But if the email is going to add a task/ require research etc. then I will hold off on replying (though I may acknowledge that I got the email)

    The other factor is where I am

    2-My immediate location
    Where I am has a lot to do with whether I will respond. If I am not doing much at the moment, then I will respond right away. But if I am in a meeting etc. then I will respond when I get back. No point in trying to do both. Plus, the person you are with will always know that you are checking emails while you are talking to them (even if you think they don’t).

    I guess I would say that I respond to most, if not all, emails within a day. And whether I respond right away or a bit later is governed by the two factors above.

  • There is mostly never an emergency in the hearing aid industry– Shutting off the alert and not responding one by one is a way to approach–then batching all responses to email in a 20 minute session

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