Responding to emails = waste of time?

36 replies
I'm being provocative here, and of course all of you take pride in answering every one of your customer's emails...please note that I am speaking about responding to emails I get as a CB vendor.

But after looking through my records from 2012...the people that I emailed back and forth several times with ended up not contributing much to my bottom line. Seems the best customers are the ones that hardly ever or never email me...for 2 reasons:

1) They are smart enough to figure out basic things
2) They stay as paying members in continuity programs for a long time

The people that email me daily...yeah---lucky to get one month's payment from them.
#emails #responding #time #waste
  • Profile picture of the author mattjay
    i respond to every email and support request i get. I'm going to be doing some bigger things, so i suppose i will need to get a support team in place, but i think you have to be available in this business.
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    • Profile picture of the author Niko A Berezkin
      Strongly disagree. I get many many emails a day from customers who do not really understand my services (SEO). And while I agree, my best customers simply order because they already know how to apply the techniques I provide, I have had many referrals from the people I helped with that "personal" touch who feel much more comfortable knowing there is someone there to answer question, suggest tactics etc.

      At times it can be daunting to answer 20 emails every morning... so I've actually started jotting down general replies to the most frequent questions and copy/pasting them as a reply... with that "personal touch" of course. And there are certainly thoughts of outsourcing support.

      But bottom line, neglecting to answer your customers (who are potential repeat customers, and could refer sales your way), is IMO a big mistake.

      Cheers.
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      • Profile picture of the author mattjay
        Originally Posted by Nikita A Beriozkin View Post

        Strongly disagree. I get many many emails a day from customers who do not really understand my services (SEO). And while I agree, my best customers simply order because they already know how to apply the techniques I provide, I have had many referrals from the people I helped with that "personal" touch who feel much more comfortable knowing there is someone there to answer question, suggest tactics etc.

        At times it can be daunting to answer 20 emails every morning... so I've actually started jotting down general replies to the most frequent questions and copy/pasting them as a reply... with that "personal touch" of course. And there are certainly thoughts of outsourcing support.

        But bottom line, neglecting to answer your customers (who are potential repeat customers, and could refer sales your way), is IMO a big mistake.

        Cheers.
        i couldn't have answered that better myself. in fact, i didn't
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    • Profile picture of the author robestrong
      I always reply to people. Sometimes they say that I'm one of the few people that actually do that. It's always a win-win.

      Seriously. Do it. It's basic courtesy and it builds rapport.
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  • Profile picture of the author davidtye
    It is always best to reply to all emails even if you don't want to as you just don't know who the person is or if they will or will not buy from you at some stage.
    In my experience of selling over many years I have always found that the 'talkers' generally don't buy or if they have then they are the refunders. The customers who get on with it and you don't hear from them often are usually the one's that buy from you over and over again.
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    • Profile picture of the author matchoo77
      Originally Posted by davidtye View Post

      It is always best to reply to all emails even if you don't want to as you just don't know who the person is or if they will or will not buy from you at some stage.
      In my experience of selling over many years I have always found that the 'talkers' generally don't buy or if they have then they are the refunders. The customers who get on with it and you don't hear from them often are usually the one's that buy from you over and over again.
      Yes, exactly my point although you worded it better. :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author Young Financier
    Seems like you figured out a very important thing. That is: people who contact you about your product/service to ask you a bunch of questions are usually wasting your time. You'll sit there answering all their questions and they end up not even purchasing from you. This is even more the case when they're asking you questions that have already been answered. That's why I have a rule that if a person asks me 3 or more questions, I cut communication with them. I'm pretty established in my business, so I couldn't care less if some random tire kicker bad mouths me for not being his/her companion. I'm in my business to make money, not to make friends.
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    • Profile picture of the author mattjay
      Originally Posted by Sean T Alexandre View Post

      Seems like you figured out a very important thing. That is: people who contact you about your product/service to ask you a bunch of questions are usually wasting your time. You'll sit there answering all their questions and they end up not even purchasing from you. This is even more the case when they're asking you questions that have already been answered. That's why I have a rule that if a person asks me 3 or more questions, I cut communication with them. I'm pretty established in my business, so I couldn't care less if some random tire kicker bad mouths me for not being his/her companion. I'm in my business to make money, not to make friends.
      I think it comes back to the famous line "the best way to be successful is to help people be successful" or something along those lines anyway.

      sorry, i be forgetting..

      If you get turned off my answering lead questions, then how big can you really be or get? You never really can tell when this person will appreciate a free helping hand and tell 20 of their friends, or come back and buy later. Why not just give some help when it's needed? Sorry, I just don't get this...
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      • Profile picture of the author Young Financier
        Originally Posted by mattjay View Post

        I think it comes back to the famous line "the best way to be successful is to help people be successful" or something along those lines anyway.

        sorry, i be forgetting..

        If you get turned off my answering lead questions, then how big can you really be or get? You never really can tell when this person will appreciate a free helping hand and tell 20 of their friends, or come back and buy later. Why not just give some help when it's needed? Sorry, I just don't get this...
        Who says that I care about helping people? That's what charities are for....my goal is to make money and TIME is the equivalent of money. That time they're wasting by asking senseless questions, I could be using that time to receive a payment from a serious individual.
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        • Profile picture of the author bizgrower
          Originally Posted by Sean T Alexandre View Post

          Who says that I care about helping people? That's what charities are for....my goal is to make money and TIME is the equivalent of money. That time they're wasting by asking senseless questions, I could be using that time to receive a payment from a serious individual.
          What if good customer relations brings your business payment, or payments, from one or more serious individuals, reduces your customer acquisition costs, and reduces your time spent getting new customers?
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          • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
            I reply to every email or support ticket I get from customers, unless it's clear that no response is expected or required. Those are my first daily task, actually.

            I read everything that is identifiably in response to a newsletter issue. Over the course of 2012, I replied to something over 80% of those, but I tell people up front that I may not always have time to answer all of them. They occasionally come in in batches of hundreds at a time.

            Beyond that... depends. I can often lose other emails in the flood. I don't like it, but it happens. Communication online can often be more a matter of triage than diligence.

            As far as people with questions about products, that depends a great deal on the way the questions are phrased. Do this long enough and you'll get good at telling the folks who are asking because they're interested from the folks who are looking for something else.

            You do what you can to help the folks who are just confused, inexperienced, or otherwise sincere. The rest you respond to as (and if) appropriate.

            You'll never hit 100%, but you can get pretty close.

            Random offers of various kinds that seem irrelevant or poorly targeted, I may not reply to at all.


            Paul
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          • Profile picture of the author Young Financier
            Originally Posted by bizgrower View Post

            What if good customer relations brings your business payment, or payments, from one or more serious individuals, reduces your customer acquisition costs, and reduces your time spent getting new customers?
            I'm sure a person who's wasting my time looking for a companion instead of looking to do business can't be of much help in referring additional business to me. They have to first become a customer and if they're just asking questions with no intention of doing business, I'm sure everyone else they may refer is on that same tip.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Gorbachev
    I keep in direct contact with my potential customers. Losing that connection will lead to you living in a false reality while customers angrily leave your business for better opportunities.

    I try to answer each and every question in my customer’s emails. The customer took the trouble to ask, you can take the time to answer. I don’t ignore questions I am uncomfortable answering. I don’t respond with just a link to a help page on my site. Answer the questions.

    I think customers require proper customer care.
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  • Profile picture of the author rmolina88
    I always constantly reply to my emails and I don't even have a support team yet.

    Back when I was working a 9 to 5, I was always constantly flooded with emails which I answered with ease, so it's really nothing to me.
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    • Profile picture of the author donhx
      Originally Posted by rmolina88 View Post

      I always constantly reply to my emails and I don't even have a support team yet.

      Back when I was working a 9 to 5, I was always constantly flooded with emails which I answered with ease, so it's really nothing to me.
      I always reply to everyone. However, I have a file of key paragraphs for common questions, and I just cut and paste relevant ones into my response. That way I can give personal replies without it taking too long.
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      • Profile picture of the author rmolina88
        Originally Posted by donhx View Post

        I always reply to everyone. However, I have a file of key paragraphs for common questions, and I just cut and paste relevant ones into my response. That way I can give personal replies without it taking too long.
        That sounds like a good idea.

        I get a lot of emails, but I'm never super bombarded since I assume my list is satisfied with the tips and offers I've been giving them.
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  • Profile picture of the author mattjay
    ok man, whatever works
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  • Profile picture of the author nicholasb
    I personally reply to every single email my self, you must be engaging with your audience, it also helps to form a bond and a relationship. It's importnat to do this for a few reasons.

    1. I am am human being and am focused on helping and serving as many people as i can while I am here.

    2. Insane conversion rates, it's not uncommon for me to send out an email and get 50-80% open rates, and it's not uncommon for me to convert 30%-50% into sales, and I'm not talking about little $2 offers

    If your not in this business to truly help people then what are you doing? Are you jsut trying to extract as much money out of as many different suckers you can find?

    if someone has a question for you they are instantly considered dumb? or not smart?

    What would your clients think if they read this post right now? I could guarantee your repeat customer percentage wouldn't be very high.

    Doesn't sound like a very long term business plan if this is how people think of their clients.
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  • Profile picture of the author dylan4f
    I also think that when you're a vendor you should reply to every email..it simply must be done..you took a role of vendore, and you are a personaly responsible for quality customer support - even those emails are just from people who don't pay enough attention, and all the y want to know is under their eyes..but you can't change other people, just try to do your best from your side.. Having a support team is a great way to deal with this..that way you have a great CS and also you help somebody to earn his paycheck by being employed in your CS

    just my 2 cents
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  • Profile picture of the author Kezz
    I personally answer every single email or other contact I ever receive. Not just that, I always try to be as helpful as I can.

    And as a result, I have a great relationship with everyone I deal with. When they need me, I support them. And then, without me asking, they all voluntarily turn around and support me when they can, which is such a good feeling I can't even tell you.

    Whenever I launch a new product all these awesome people come out just to say nice things, and it's completely of their own volition. Which great not only to have people vouching for me, it just plain makes me feel awesome too.

    And that's all because I go out of my way to help people as much as I possibly can. They say "Nice guys finish last" but it's a total myth. Be an authentically helpful person, treat people well whether they're customers or strangers, and good things will happen.
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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Gram
    Not only do I LOVE getting email from customers and potential customers but many times, (depending on what's going on of course) I personally respond to them within minutes, even at night.

    I do this because:

    1. I care. I really do.
    2. Some of our products, services, and best ideas have been born from non customers asking questions via our Help Desk
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  • Profile picture of the author Troy_Phillips
    There is a free line in my business. I will go above and beyond to help to a point but when the free line is crossed it is pay up or go elsewhere.

    It would not be fair for me to charge for certain information in a report and then give it freely to someone asking via email. Most who have dealt with me will tell you my free line runs pretty deep but in fairness to paying customers a line must be drawn.
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    • Profile picture of the author Evolved
      I notice a lot of people don't answer actually. I have emailed and PMed some members on here about services and questions. Some aspects of internet marketing im still fairly new and have questions. So at times I'll find a good product or thread and PM someone with further questions etc.

      In the passed couple days I think there are 2-3 people who have not answered me yet. Funny 1 of the people actually is in this thread saying they always answer :p Maybe he'll get to it later.

      But there are plenty of people who I guess are too caught up to answer emails/PM's.
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      • Profile picture of the author Troy_Phillips
        Originally Posted by Evolved View Post

        I notice a lot of people don't answer actually. I have emailed and PMed some members on here about services and questions. Some aspects of internet marketing im still fairly new and have questions. So at times I'll find a good product or thread and PM someone with further questions etc.

        In the passed couple days I think there are 2-3 people who have not answered me yet. Funny 1 of the people actually is in this thread saying they always answer :p Maybe he'll get to it later.

        But there are plenty of people who I guess are too caught up to answer emails/PM's.
        A little hint .. your post count is too low to PM .. could be why you are not getting replies.
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        • Profile picture of the author Evolved
          Originally Posted by Troy_Phillips View Post

          A little hint .. your post count is too low to PM .. could be why you are not getting replies.
          No it's not that. I've been PMing for a while now no problem. I have sent and received PM's plenty of times. My inbox limit is set to 10 only so Im always emptying it.

          Is there usually a post count to PM? I thought it was 50 but I have been PMing for a while now so I thought not. Maybe im lucky?
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          • Profile picture of the author Troy_Phillips
            Originally Posted by Evolved View Post

            No it's not that. I've been PMing for a while now no problem. I have sent and received PM's plenty of times. My inbox limit is set to 10 only so Im always emptying it.

            Is there usually a post count to PM? I thought it was 50 but I have been PMing for a while now so I thought not. Maybe im lucky?
            They may have changed it .. or maybe you are lucky lol.
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            • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
              Great topic!

              I think that with all of the technology and automation available, people just want to know (more than ever) there's a real person behind the e-mail or site. I, myself, am much more willing to spend a lot more money with people I've actually met or had a personal conversation with.

              In fact, I enrolled in a video marketing course in Nov. that I wasn't even considering. But I'd e-mailed the owner/instructor with a related question and he took the time to actually call me and spoke with me for a full hour, no strings attached and no pressure.

              That was impressive! So I signed up and have been very happy. He's a good coach/instructor.

              I spent $9.5K with my coach last year. I'd probably NEVER have spent that much money if I'd never met her or spoken with her personally. But I'd met her previously at live events and had the opportunity to speak with her personally, both at the events and on the phone. It made a serious difference in my willingness to spend money with her.

              I soft-launched my new business to my own existing list (a small list from a previous business) last year. My first member came AFTER I personally answered some of her questions via e-mail. The second member was a referral from the first member.

              The third member found me here (of all places) and e-mailed asking for help with IM. I took the time to answer some of her questions via lengthy e-mails (from me). Turns out she's EXACTLY the type member we're looking for and she joined as a member after receiving my answers.

              My willingness to personally answer some of her questions directly contributed to her joining us as a member. Knowing that there was a real person behind that site (me) who seemed to know what she's doing/talking about (and who took the time to clear up some confusion) increased her trust.

              Now, I did have to draw the line on that one. She kept sending me e-mails with questions. I gave her some more advice, but also mentioned that this is the kind of thing I cover in personal coaching. I e-mailed her a description of our coaching programs and the application.

              For now, we're small and still in the startup phase, so I can take the time to answer questions as I see fit (and have time for).

              My experience so far has been that the personal touch has been key to getting new business. However, DO have boundaries and know where to draw the line.

              I think people are a bit tired of giving their money to unapproachable gurus, someone they never speak to personally. I know I am. Being able to speak with my coach personally and the fact that she knows my name and who I am makes a HUGE difference in my willingness to give her money.

              I also find myself VERY resistant to buying from some big-name guru who will never know my name or deign to speak with me personally. I've purchased a LOT of courses (infoproducts) over the years and they have served me well. Infoproducts are for people who want to learn on their own and DON'T want any sort of contact or accountability, which is fine.

              But I'm past that. I need the personal touch and the accountability of a coach or coaching program with others.

              I strongly recommend answering your e-mails. If you find questions repeatedly popping up or a common theme/thread, put up an FAQ page and direct people to that if their question can be answered there. If not and the e-mails are getting to be too much, maybe having a group Q&A call once a month is a good idea. Letting people have some access to you and hear your voice will definitely up your conversions. It's a good way to give people some personal attention without sucking up too much of your time.

              Hope this helps!

              Michelle
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          • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
            I think you have to be a War Room member to have unlimited PMs. Otherwise, you can only have a certain number of PM's at any one time. (10 I guess.)

            Michelle

            Originally Posted by Evolved View Post

            No it's not that. I've been PMing for a while now no problem. I have sent and received PM's plenty of times. My inbox limit is set to 10 only so Im always emptying it.

            Is there usually a post count to PM? I thought it was 50 but I have been PMing for a while now so I thought not. Maybe im lucky?
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  • Profile picture of the author Bill Hugall
    I learned a valuable lesson from one marketer. He said I will answer any question provided it relates to my product or service that they purchased or want to purchase. If someone on my list has a random a question about IM my hourly rate is. $___

    Far to often people under value what they actually know and seem to get caught up in the whole freebie thing. We have all spent money. Those of us who make money should be charging to teach people how to do it or give advice. People run around saying my business, my business. Yet when someone asks them a question they treat them like a buddy not a client. May seem cold but the bottom line is that I have a business to run and if you would like some of my business time. You need to pay for it.

    If you want free info for setting up your business head over to the warrior forum and post a question. People can dislike that approach all they want, but that is the difference between a business and a hobby. This is not my hobby.
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  • Profile picture of the author RachelLily
    Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.You should determine WHY you're sending the email in the first place.

    The way I like to get clear--and enable my clients to become clear--about what an email is supposed to accomplish, is to ask this: "Why are we sending this email?" You can ask this a lot of ways: What's the purpose? What do we hope to accomplish? Based on what will we consider this to be a successful effort?

    From the word "go"--and probably even before it--you need to figure out what the purpose of the proposed email is. Is it lead generation? Sales? Click-throughs? Downloads? Branding and awareness? Answer the question definitively. A single focused answer to the why question will solve 80% percent of the problems that spring from your lack of mission clarity.

    Once you've figured out what you want to achieve through this email, put that objective in writing on your white board or somewhere else where you and your team can keep it foremost in mind. That will help keep you on track.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonathan Shearer
    I wouldn't think of it like that, yes people that email you are more likely to not buy/extend membership but the human touch of communicating helps a lot of sales.
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  • Profile picture of the author Troy_Phillips
    Originally Posted by Jean Michel Mailhot View Post

    I answer every email, i also give support on skype. Id say if you can answer 20 emails an hour, and 5 of those buy your product for 47$, then its well worth the 235$/hour time spent.

    But if its for low cost products, off course it will build a reputation but it might get complicated when you have TOO MANY messages each day xd.

    Well, why not employing a tech support team? Go to easyoutsource.com and get filipinos to give support for you! They are only 1$ an hour haha
    I seldom work on weekends. I know I probably should but one of the reasons I do the online thing is for the freedom it brings. This also results in several emails and pm here and messages on face book and direct messages on Twitter.

    There are Monday mornings I find myself needing to reply back to well over 300 messages in total. I do reply back to all of them (I am sure some do get lost) but it still goes back to the free line.

    Some, if not most, will get answers to their questions .. others may get a link to a paid product that answers their question with an explanation of charging others for the information and not being fair to them to give it away now but ....

    I absolutely hate to reach a help desk that provides canned answers that never answer anything. $1 an hour in usually equals poop out.

    I have a partner in New Zealand and we have an assistant we hired local to me. In time I see needing to get an assistant local to the partner. Local assistance doesn't work out at $1 an hour.

    We train our help to the point of being able to answer 95% of the questions ask but in reality, most of the people contacting us are expecting an answer from either me or the partner. Those questions are routed to us by the assistant and she answers only 5%. She does answer basically all tech questions and such but that is a different animal and a different channel.

    She also doesn't have access to the pm function here or at other social accounts although I am contemplating doing a company page on face book and letting her run it.

    In the long run our assistant makes more than the average goal here of $100 a day and she is well worth it. There are times I see how much she can accomplish in an hour and I have to pick my own pace up a little.

    I would not suggest using cheap labor for company communications as those communications can be the most important association for your business and first impressions do count.
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