The Business Email Problem of Unanswered Emails

Yesterday I had a not-entirely-comfortable conversation with somebody I very much respect about my email habits. There are emails left unanswered in my email account, and she was suggesting that there shouldn’t be. People who write an email to a company address should be answered, she said. You can choose not to with a personal email address, but this is business email.

Hmmm, that’s awkward. I find I frequently leave emails in the main inbox because I intend to answer them. Time passes. They get a week old, and then two weeks.

"But I leave them there because I intend to answer them," I said.

"No, that’s not right. People are offended when they send an email and it goes into blank space. It doesn’t speak well for the company. It’s like unanswered phone calls, with the phone just ringing. It makes us look bad."

"But surely you don’t mean all the emails I get," I answered, "even unsolicited emails?"

"Well of course not spam," she said, "but yes, I do mean unsolicited email when it’s an individual, a person. You can’t just leave it like dead air."

This I admit was kind of a new thought to me. I’ve been thinking that I can leave emails, try to answer them, and if time passes and they fall down below view in the inbox, oh well. I mean I’m not rude or impolite to people I know — I would answer your email for sure — but these are just strangers.

"But that’s just rude," she said, as I was beginning to waver. "All you have to do is send an email — you can use a template — something like "’Thanks for your email, I’m swamped right now, but I want you to know I did receive it and I intend to look into it.’"

"And besides, you can have so-and-so manage that for you, send quick responses to some and alert you to others."

"After all," she said, finally, "that’s one of the main reasons we developed Email Center Pro. Business email is about the business, and it reflects on the business. So use the templates facility, have so-and-so help if you have too many to manage, but don’t leave emails completely unanswered."

And then she had me.

And, for the record, if you read this blog regularly you know I don’t do plugs and promotions in it, but the new management team of Palo Alto Software released Email Center Pro earlier this year, and I’m proud of this new Web app, and proud of the team. Every business should do something — and I think that something is with Email Center Pro — to manage its business emails.

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