434: Email Response Time

How quickly do you expect a response to an email?

Full episode script

For most businesses I’ve encountered, and for many people I’ve encountered, email is often considered any more to be the ‘slower’ form of communication. Generally, I think one day or so is a quick response to an email.

If I want an immediate answer on something, then I will call or instant message someone. Or send a text message. Or a Facebook chat. Or a Twitter direct message…. Well, you get the point. I’ll reach out in a way where there’s an expectation of a quicker response.

Though it appears, at least according to the research, that this one-business-day expectation might make me just a little bit weird.

Interestingly, most of the research I found was from between 2013 and 2015, so I can’t promise this hasn’t changed. But even if it has, it’s some very useful information to have.

Customer service company Toister Solutions, in a survey conducted in 2015, found that:

One business day is still favored by many customers, with 43.4 percent of survey respondents selecting this option. The problem with this standard is 43.9 percent of customers expect a faster response. That means the one business day standard could be alienating nearly half of your customers. The new one hour standard reflects the longest response time that will meet at least 80 percent of customers’ expectations.

Yes, you heard that right. One HOUR or less is what was required to keep 80 percent of individuals expectations met when it came to email.

In a 2015 paper called “Evolutions of Conversations in the Age of Email Overload,” researchers found that 90 percent of people respond within a day or two of receiving an email to which they plan to respond. The most likely reply time is two minutes, and half of responders will respond in just under an hour.

Research is also showing that as email inboxes get more full, the percentage of emails that get responses tend to go down – way down. That all-important “emails to which they plan to respond” metric shifts and fewer emails qualify for a response, in other words.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.