It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.
If you've missed past Expert Briefs, you can click on the undies to see them all –>
The question for next Expert Briefs is one that I got from a reader…
“HELP! I'm drowning in emails. Even with a support person in place, too many people have my email address and I can't keep up.
What's your BEST tip for handling email that comes directly to you?”
I hope this week's answers help everyone dealing with an email dilemma.
Lynette Chandler of TechBasedMarketing.com says:
When we consolidated all our sites' contact point into one, I redirected all addresses to go into the new help desk and created a brand new secret address for myself that is used exclusively between staff, close friends and my handful of clients. This way, I started afresh while still ensuring the old mails are read and taken care of and takes care of the problem where too many people have your address. It is a complete, 100% break that is very liberating.
Unless you have worked with them for a long time, don't expect your support person to know what to do with all those emails off the bat though. I use the method above to effectively retire email addresses but each time I do it I still need to give her some guidelines on handling certain emails for example, “Don't forward me any personal emails except from Nicole Dean ;-)”
If there are personal messages that get forwarded to me and I don't want them to have my address but at the same time want to communicate openly, I'll reply to my support person and tell her to replay my message in double quotes. As time goes by, she knows anything that I put in quotes is to be repeated verbatim. It may seem silly and a waste of resources to communicate through a third party but for me it is worth it because it lets me protect my real email address.
Ronnie Nijmeh of PLR.me (< -click for a special free offer from Ronnie) says:
This is a GREAT question – and it comes at a very fitting time for me.
I just spent the last 5 days wading through a couple thousand emails, questions, orders, and forum private messages… and fortunately I'm still sane!
Firstly, I'd really recommend getting to know Gmail really well. 🙂 There are a lot of hidden features and functions in the settings and the Gmail Labs that have saved me a ton of time.
1. Keyboard Shortcuts
2. Canned Responses
I actually outlined how to use these features (and other awesome time saving techniques) in a product I released with Rachel Rofe called Time Management Tricks
Next up, I'd really recommend having your VA answer 99% of emails, even if it's specifically for you.
What I do is forward the message to my assistant and give her some specific key points that I want her to mention. It's short and simple and only takes me about 15 seconds. Then my VA spruces it up, formats it correctly, and sends it to my clients with a message that says something like: “Ronnie reviewed your questions and he said: ….”
That way they're getting a response from me, but via my VA. Saves time and ensures that my clients are well-taken care of.
I still answer a lot of emails myself, and when I do, I loosely follow this formula:
1. Thank the client for sending the email.
2. Acknowledge that they took the time out to send the email and express my appreciation.
3. If there are a few questions, I use a numbered list to answer questions quickly (that way it doesn't have to be formatted in full sentences)
4. Thank the client again and allow Gmail to fill in my signature for me.
It's a simple formula that saves time and gets clients quicker replies to their emails!
Nicole Dean of .. here! .. says:
I got two really good tips from Lynette and Ronnie's answers above.
Lynette's tip about “anything I have in quotes can be sent verbatim” is brilliant and obvious – but I guess not obvious enough since I'm not doing it. I have been worried that a quick note to my customer support gal would get forwarded without being touched up to look professional. Great tip, Lynette! Thanks.
Ronnie's one line really nailed it for me. “Next up, I'd really recommend having your VA answer 99% of emails, even if it's specifically for you.” I usually just hit “reply” even if I know I shouldn't to save time. Unfortunately, it ends up costing me tons of time down the road since I've then exposed my email addy to another person. Thanks for the verbal smack-down, Ronnie.
I use gmail, too. I love the canned responses and the filters, too. It's by far, the best email management program for my needs.
My #1 tip is to set up filters for your inbox. For instance, I have everything that comes into gmail with the word “unsubscribe” in it set to skip my inbox and go directly to a “promos” folder that I set up. That way I can check that folder once a week, knowing that it's pretty much all stuff that can wait, like newsletters that I've subscribed to. The only problem is that I've had to train my customer support person to delete the unsubscribe link from any emails that she's going to forward to me so that I actually get them. lol.
Filters also give me the ability to send emails that come from certain people directly to my trash. So, if I get subscribed to a junk list that doesn't have an “unsub” button, I can just have anything that comes from that site skip my inbox and go directly to trash. Pretty slick, eh? 🙂
Now it's your turn!
What's your best tip for handling the email that comes to your inbox? Do tell! 🙂
Check out this Recommended Resource:
Rachel Rofe & Ronnie created a cool course called Time Management Tricks.
Check it out if you want more info on organizing your day to get more done.