Ask Dave Taylor: Tech and Business


How quickly should customer email be answered?

I am in the process of reading your book Growing Your Business with Google and was wondering what is an acceptable amount of time for a response to a customer's email request. I know it varies widely within the e-business world but what is acceptable?

This is a splendid question because it really gets to one of the greatest challenges of doing business online: all the time you spend answering email messages. If you have a product or service that requires customer support, and you have a Web site that channels people to a form or help address, it can be even worse.

There's nothing more discouraging than going into work on a Monday morning just to see a few hundred new messages from customers and potential customers. Do you ignore them? Do you respond to every single one? And if you do respond, how do you ever get your job done?

One solution is to hire someone to answer customer support email, because email is just as important an avenue for customer queries as telephones, yet many companies hire or outsource a bevvy of phone support people and leave email to an intern or as a side job. But it's quite common for companies to view customer support as a last priority cost center, and plenty of firms...