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Relationship Management Startups

Why Unread Emails Are Hurting Your Customer Relationships

By Rebecca Hinds

Email has become our de-facto method of communication. Unfortunately, it’s a double-edged sword. While it’s fast and convenient, it’s also a source of stress. Employees send and receive approximately 115 emails a day. The process of reading and answering emails eats away 28 percent of our workweek. Is it any wonder we feel captive to our inbox?

Reading and responding to every email that hits our inbox can feel overwhelming. One 2012 study found that email is associated with higher stress levels and increased anxiety. With the onslaught of emails we receive each day, it’s easy to let emails slip between the cracks. Unfortunately, even one unanswered email or delayed email response can jeopardize your relationships with customers:

1. Delayed sales cycles

A 2015 study by Eptica evaluated the email activity of 100 leading UK companies. The researchers found that companies failed to respond to a staggering 39% of customer questions that had been submitted via email.

In today's fast-paced business climate, it’s essential to respond to customer inquiries in a timely fashion. Failing to provide customers with timely answers to questions about pricing, product specifications, value propositions, competitive advantages, etc. can delay sales cycles. Worse yet, it can cause customers to turn to competitors for solutions.

2. Negative customer perceptions

Unanswered emails and delayed response times will impair your relationships with customers. “Email silence” can send the subtle but powerful message that customers are not top of mind—that they are not important enough to warrant a prompt response.

If you’re not quick to respond to customer emails, your customers will look less favorably on you. A 2011 study found that people who took two or more weeks to respond to an email (or didn’t respond at all) were viewed as less credible and ascribed with more negative attributes than others.

3. Decreased levels of engagement

What goes around comes around. If you fail to respond to customers in a timely manner, they’ll be less likely to respond to you. Delayed email response times can cause customers to become disengaged. A 2007 study found that the longer a gap in communication between a company and a prospect, the less likely a customer is to respond. Ensuring that you respond to customers in a timely manner helps keep them engaged and connected to your brand.

We’re flooded with emails. It’s easy for emails to get lost in the fray. According to Radicati Group, only about 25% of the emails professionals receive every day are legitimate. Affinity can help you sort through the noise. It will help you accelerate sales cycles by automatically detecting emails that warrant a response. It will improve customer perceptions by proactively identifying customer relationships that are at risk. Finally, it will increase customer engagement levels by allowing you to set reminders to follow up with a person or company when there’s a lull in activity.

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Relationship Management Startups