First thing is that all emails with a valid return address get a reply.
|a request comes in through one of your website contact forms. How much time elapses between receipt and reply? |
If you mean simple website requests like "Hey! This link doesn't work you jerk!" or "We've added your link to our directory, please add our link to yours!". It can wait up to a week. It really depends on what they are asking for.
|Emails are coming in that represent new revenue. How much time elapses between receipt and reply? |
I can leave these for up to 48 hours before I reply and still get a "thanks for the quick response" from the sender.
The delay on these for me is that they usually take a bit of thought.
|Maybe a user has experienced a problem with checkout or some other site function, how much time elapses between receipt and reply? |
If the email comes in and we're awake (we're in EU selling mostly to US) it is almost immediate. Our customers are quite often under a heavy deadline and are usually freaking out. We make it a point to calm them down as quickly as possible.
Our email support during the heavy sales time of the day is almost like IM.
If its a prospective client, I'll call them back or email them immediately if I'm not working on something due within the next few hours. If I'm pretty busy, I'll reply the next day. There are occasions when I landed a client by being the first person to respond to them after they contacted a few different firms, so sometimes it pays to be prompt. Honestly, I also weigh in what I think the project might be worth.
All my contact forms say I'll contact them within 24 hours (Mon - Fri). Having said that I try and reply within a few hours. It's always commented upon.
We also have a 24 hour turn around, excluding weekends posted clearly on our forms.
Of course if it is a potential sale, or an unhappy customer, they get push to the top of the list.
Email is a lot like triage at the hospital
Too many people think Email is IRC, and expect a reply back in 3 minutes.
Ordinarly a matter of minutes.
We rarely let an email sit unless we are waiting on information to provide a prompt reply. If it's more than a few hours, we shoot a quick - "gathering info - will get back to you as soon as we know."
You (rhetorically) are always busy. Most of the time it takes a few minutes to reply promptly, so I get it out of the way. My biggest problem is if I don't do it now, I'll stay on the project, move on to the next one, and might forget about it.
|"This link doesn't work you jerk!" |
Never gotten one of those specifically but relish firing back a reply to something like this. "Thanks for helping us improve the site!" What I don't add, of course, is "for real customers, not for expletives like you." :-)
For customer service issues, we promise a response within one working day. In practise we respond much quicker than that, but it's useful to have a formal standard for what we think is an acceptable response time.
Occasionally we'll get a customer who sends us five emails in an hour - they think that because we haven't responded within a few minutes to their first email then we must not have received it. It's this situation where it's very helpful to be able to say to them 'we aim to respond within one working day' - helps clarify their expectations.
Once they know that we will respond to every email they send us, and we'll promise to do it within a day, they tend to get a lot less impatient, because they know they can count on us.
we would normally reply within 20 mins for one of our sites, and within 24 hours for another.
the 20 min response time is where we like to be the 1st person to contact the client as they usually are shopping around. Then we try to get the appointment booked for the following 24 hrs to increase the chances of conversion. 1st come 1st served kinda scenario.
the other one is people needing help with certain problems and can wait a little longer to receive a reply.
As per industry standard, the maximum elapsed time is 24 hours, in view of the time zone difference between New Delhi and New York or London and Auckland.
For sales and support related queries, we follow immediate response mode. We work 24x7 in three shifts, overlapping with each other. Web phone, live text chat or E-mail facilitate to minimize our possible opportunity loss. It works wonder!
For day shift operations like 9am through 6pm (stretched to 9pm) the window time can be minimized to 'half a day'.
Within 24 hours, I tend to deal with emails roughly every 12 hours, that way a customer who deals with us can roughly guess as to when they will get a reply
On my contact me page I basically say I probably won't respond at all, and if I do, it won't be fast.
On my user submitted info page I say it will likely be a few days, maybe a week or two, before I get around to doing anything with it, and if there is an attachment it's going straight to the delete file.
After 5 years I finally started to reply to some of the user submissions when I get around to processing them.
I may be in the wrong business, I dislike email intensely.
Its a race against time. I am about to start live support. The more you talk, the more you sell, the more you get.
Response time is vital most of the time for me with-in 15 mins or less usually, auto organizing and flags can help time management for emails.
"After 5 years I finally started to reply to some of the user submissions when I get around to processing them."
After 5 years? Isn't it too late?
I have a program that checks all my mail accounts every 10mins. Previous clients get a response within 15mins on average. If potential new work comes in I try and respond back same day. For me, good communication is a must. I`m forever e-mailing clients for information, then sitting around twiddling my thumbs. I like people to know they can expect a good service, so unless I`m out of the office, I respond asap.
10-15 minute response times. Are we all crazy.
Email is a form of communication, not instant communication.
Sometimes it takes me a day or two to get a response by phone, unless it is really urgent.
If it is really urgent, pick up the phone, or dial the pager or the emergency number.
If you want to communicate with the customer in real time, get livehelp or some other package.
Don't give the customer the impression that email gives real time or close to real time response times.
|Don't give the customer the impression that email gives real time or close to real time response times. |
Near instant email response to questions during checkout have finalized many sales for us. Sales that might have gone to the competitors if we waited to respond.
And customers are always *very* impressed with instant email responses (I guess because they never get them), the sale almost always goes through immediately after an inquiry has been answered.
I think it also gives them confidence that if they have any questions after purchase that we will be immediately available for them.
|get livehelp or some other package. |
We tried this and it seemed to slow our site down. We found it was much faster and more user friendly to fire off a quick answer via email rather than force the customer to start up a sluggish chat window.
I keep it under 24 hours, average. IF I write back. It really depends on what the email is about.
I write the content to avoid emails, so the customer has all the answers already there and ways to find even more answers. In my experience, if they cannot find it and still write back... I repeat, from previous experiences... is not worth to reply.
If they write for something is not there, an error, problem or more info not available... I write back in less than 24 hours.
One business day. The longer it takes for us to get back to them, the more time they have to start looking at our competition -- so, sooner is better. Providing good service is half the battle, the other half is price.
prioritise and asap thereafter
If inquiries are not responded to within 24 to 48 hours MAX; their is an issue. If you get volume that is above and beyond; you should have a template system in place.
as soon as we have the answer for them.
depending on the issue, but usually within the same day
In the business world I think it is usually 24-48 hours.
For prospective business - minutes, virtually 24/7 - clear, concise, targeted responses. (Word gets around.) 24 - 48 hour turn-around is totally unacceptable for us.
After that, prioritize. Prioritizing is usually pretty easy. Literacy, clarity of thought - quicker and more helpful. Rambling, lack of focus - not so quick, and fairly cursory, but leaving the door open to take the business.
With experience, one can tell almost at a glance who is $$ and who is not. On the other hand, you never know which illiterate rambler actually intends to spend hundreds of dollars. It is all too easy for lesser companies/personnel to fall into the habit of blowing off correspondence that can be converted into a good business transaction.
We carry an extensive range of products within our niche, and over time I have developed an entire directory of detailed responses. It takes only a moment to paste in the appropriate text, and then customize for the potential customer. It 'appears' that we gave their inquiry serious consideration and responded directly to them. A casual inquiry becomes money in the bank.
An excess of similar emails often indicates an issue with the website. A text adjustment, or an upgraded FAQ to that subject or product line can virtually eliminate email inquiries - converting them order submissions instead.
If it looks like a new lead it'll get an immediate response. Or as immediate as possible. Forget looking desperate. If I can edge out the field in any way I jump at the chance. There's nothing quite like striking while the iron is hot.
Also, I try and call any leads if I have their contact info. The likely hood is that they are about to open their wallet, or close, so talking to them there and then can often win their confidence.
For technical issues and support mail they'll get a quick reply, usually within an hour.
For annoying clients who won't shut up - telephone. Amazing how a client will re-phrase their problem when confronted by a real voice.
When working: Waiting is bad, fast is good.
When on vacation: Waiting is good, fast is bad.
I say that emails should be responded to within 1 business day, but if things are busy and it's not important (and the sender knows trusts me) I might wait longer. For new relationships, one biz day is perfect.