It’s so easy to be constantly connected to people, businesses and news nowadays that it’s become the norm to have our lives in our pockets, which means there’s little switch off time. We live in a 24/7 nation with ever present people who are always online or accessible in some way.
I recently came across an article that resonated with how I feel about emails. I get hundreds and hundreds of them and I read about 4 in every hundred because they’re of such little use to me, just another bombardment that I try to ignore.
“We need to take the power back. We need to bring back what it’s like to just be in the world, in our everyday living.”
We need to realise that when it comes to emails in business especially, it is ok, believe it or not, to not reply straight away. That’s what the little flags are for. Sounds like a huge step but you need to get back to business as it was.
Manage expectations and set some boundaries, prioritise the phone over email. The phone is something you can’t ignore when it rings (unless you want a headache), no company should be screening calls. It’s a fundamental part of your business, it’s the most likely method that your customers will use to get in touch with you if they need to speak with you about something urgent or have a query.
You might think that taking lots of calls during the day is a distraction, but just think of how many times a day you unwittingly interrupt your own day by checking your emails impulsively? I’m sure you’d agree that when it comes to customer service and getting an answer that bombardment of emails isn’t the best route. Picking up the phone is a much more direct route, saving time, hassle and money and removing any communication barriers that you might face over email because you know what you want to say.
Where to start?
- The phone is a priority, you can’t leave it ringing!
- Set aside specific times of day to check emails, once in the morning, once in the afternoon.
- Manage expectations. If you have an autoresponder that is sent when you receive an email then let your customer know when you aim to get back to them. Make sure this is obtainable. This won’t stop some people from emailing multiple times but sets out your customer service goals.
- Get back to customer service as it was.
- If you can’t get to your phone you can still manage expectations with an out of hour’s message or voicemail option.
I recently came across Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive and I can assure you now that checking emails isn’t one of them. He highlights, just like Handley, the need for us to be comfortable with switching off every once in a while. As important as technology is, it only goes so far and can’t replace good old fashioned customer service and speaking with someone in real time.
“To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own non-upgraded human existence.”