How much time do we have to answer an email?

If we take a closer look at some business email etiquettes we will surely find a point that gives detailed information about the maximal timeframe of answering an email from clients or business partners. 24 hours. According to the etiquette, it is exactly one day. This may not seem sufficient from the perspective of businesses, but for the other party, it is a lot. Numerous studies tried to reveal customers demand in this subject. What is the optimum time interval of getting a response? Does one even exist? There are some national researches as well, but the most influential one, ‘Mystery shopping’ was made by Totalcar.

For some business, it is essential to satisfy the demands of customers. According to the research that Totalcar conducted these businesses also have some difficulties in responding to emails on time. The writer of the article quoted for 15 well-known car dealers. Several days later only 4 of the car dealers gave a fully detailed quotation. There were some automatic replies and in some cases, no replies at all. The potential buyer left nothing to chance (according to him). In his email he mentioned that he is interested in every quotation that is under 8 million forints and meets his requirements. Several aspects can be blamed for this mistake but the result is the same. If we don’t care about a customer at this stage of buying it is a complete waste of money. This research was done a few years ago, so we could think that the situation got a lot better. BUT NOT!

Let’s see how foreign companies do!

Companies don’t respond to 62% of their incoming messages, according to a new research made by the CRM software provider Superoffice. Just think on that this is almost two-thirds of the emails. There may be numerous factors behind these data like shortage of labour, corporate culture, shortage of time. One of the most upsetting reasons is when somebody opens an email and doesn’t answer it right away, so this email gets forgotten in the bulk of opened emails. To conduct the research Superoffice sent an email to 1000 companies’ (small, medium and big ones too) helpdesks and as a result, collected a lot of data.

  • the average response time of a helpdesk message was 12 hours 10 minutes

  • only 20% of the companies can answer the question in the first email response

  • 97% of the companies don’t care about measuring the satisfaction with their helpdesk

  • 62% of the companies don’t reply to the emails received by their customer service

The latest research of Toister Performance Solutions exactly quantifies the time that customers willing to wait for an answer. They used a quite small but relevant sample for the research, and they made a difference between the social media platforms answer letters.

There are spreadsheets that represent the distribution of the entire population; there are charts that show the percentage deviation for each group based on waiting time and there are some reports on social media message management. If we aggregate these reports we can see that almost half of the respondents expect a response letter from the company within 4 hours.

Moreover, it is clear that customers are not as patient as generally when they wait for Facebook response letters. This may be because of the increased presence of users on the page. In some target groups, more individuals are active on Facebook than on their email account.

To sum up, users consider an hour as an acceptable response time from a company, but they mention that if a business would like to have a competitive edge they must reduce this time for 15 minutes. It is sad to say but both domestic and foreign companies have a lot of rooms for improvement. ‘The customer is always right.’ So if a customer thinks that a response time of 15 minutes is too much, we have to agree. It is too much indeed. Most of the companies make a living from their customers so they can’t afford a customer who is not satisfied with them. In the long run, a company which is able to manage its emails in sync will have a measurable advantage against its competitors.

Register now and get through the entire email conversation at a glance!

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