Priority Mail

Don't underestimate the value of a quick response.
Magazine Contributor
Writer and Author, Specializing in Business and Finance
2 min read

This story appears in the January 2000 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine. Subscribe »

If you think it's OK to wait a few days before returning e-mail inquiries, you could be committing suicide. John Tschohl, president and founder of Service Quality Institute, a customer service training firm in Minneapolis, says responding to e-mail inquiries should receive the same priority as returning phone calls.

But this rarely happens, says Tschohl, noting that employees often wait as long as four or five days to respond to e-mail messages. This, he says, either diminishes the possibility that prospects will remember their initial inquiry or encourages them to move on to another provider who responds more quickly.

"If new prospects are inquiring, you want to make it easy for them to communicate with you. And if you think you're the only one they're talking to, you're nuts," says Tschohl.

Tschohl suggests these tips to increase your e-mail effectiveness:

  • Train your employees in the art of customer service. If they don't understand that each inquiry should be treated as a potential new customer, they may be less apt to respond promptly.
  • Institute a policy that requires all e-mails to be answered within one day. If an employee is going away on vacation or will be out of the office for an extended period of time, set up an automated response to let inquirers know.
  • If your general-inquiry e-mail volume is heavy, assign an employee to handle the responses. Be sure the person is a proficient writer, since his or her responses will represent your company.

Tschohl says, companies must remember that customers using the do so because they want information immediately. E-customers can quickly surf to a competitor's site, so don't miss the chance to meet their needs--fast.

Gwen Moran is president of Moran Associates, a and marketing communications agency in Ocean, New Jersey. She is currently completing a marketing workbook titled Promote Your Business. E-mail her at

Contact SourceService Quality Institute, (800) 548-0538,


More from Entrepreneur

Get heaping discounts to books you love delivered straight to your inbox. We’ll feature a different book each week and share exclusive deals you won’t find anywhere else.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Discover a better way to hire freelancers. From business to marketing, sales, finance, design, technology, and more, we have the freelancers you need to tackle your most important work and projects, on-demand.

Latest on Entrepreneur