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How Fast Should You Respond or Expect a Response to Business Emails?

What are your business email response expectations?

Realistic Expectations

Many believe that email is instantaneous. Depending on the current network status, email is often pretty darn quick. But there will be times due to network traffic or geographic issues that will cause email to take longer to get to the other side.

Regardless of how speedy that email is received in your contact’s email account, that doesn’t mean the recipient must drop all of their other responsibilities and immediately respond to your email. They may not even be online or in front of the computer checking email to know you’ve sent them a message.

And, not everyone has their email on their smartphone, either. I don’t. When I shut down my computer for the day — I don’t want emails coming through on my phone. Whatever comes in can wait until the next business day morning.

Yes, expectations do matter, and it is essential as a business owner to live up to your contacts’ expectations. Unfortunately, in the competitive online world, fast responses rule the day.

What is the standard turnaround time to send a business email response?

Short Answer: As fast as you can!

Long Answer: I recommend at least within 24 hours (during business hours, of course) if at all possible. If you cannot respond quickly, send a note saying you will respond when you can do so in detail.

Those considering doing business with you have high expectations about response time with email (due to that perception of instantaneous receipt). Since they assumed you received their email within moments of them clicking the send button, how long you respond will correlate with how important they are to you.

Responding promptly and concisely gives the sender insight into what it will be like to communicate and do business with you. Don’t we all prefer to do business with those who think our emails are important and promptly provide us with the info we seek?

The quicker you respond, the more favorable an impression you will make. But, especially with initial inquiries, don’t doubt that onliners email several sites or companies to test the waters.

Those who respond quickly and professionally will have the opportunity to create an incontestable positive impression. In contrast, those who respond at their convenience may cause the sender to wonder what delayed your response while your competitors beat you to the punch.

If you are the sender…

Senders should realize that to expect an immediate response, and then when you don’t receive one, to send a follow-up email 30 minutes later can be viewed as overly demanding. But then, followed up by a text 15 minutes later? If the matter is that important, you probably should have started with a phone call in the first place.

Of course, we all should do our best to respond to emails as promptly as possible. But keep in mind that sometimes folks are busy. They have other responsibilities and activities that require their full attention. They may be in a meeting, out of the office, or trying to meet previous deadlines or commitments.

“But I want a reply!”

Generally, send a follow-up 24 hours after sending your first message. Offer a dash of courtesy to those you email and give them time to respond.

Suppose you have a deadline or date-specific that requires their input. Note that in your email, and be patient. Can’t wait 24 hours? An email is probably not the appropriate venue for your request. For matters of urgency, pick up your phone and call.

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