Response Time

Email @ Response Speed Thoughts

I’ve been thinking about response time with regard to how fast we answer email queries for author support.

If we provide intra-hour replies, it almost instantly causes a cascade of 2nd, 3rd and often 4th or even 5th follow up emails in the same day. Would all of these responses have happened if we had this conversation over a 4 or 5 day period? I don’t think so.

Now, the question: Is the upside benefit of improved relations and goodwill worth the additional labor expense to provide faster response.

The easy answer is that there is zero economic immediate benefit to us in the short-term, but there most likely is a benefit in the long-term good-will build up.

Downsides to fast response: Very labor expensive and zero economic impact in the month that we provide the fast response.

Upsides to fast response: Improved relationship, pace setting, could lead to improved quantity of quality submissions, etc.

We’re going to try an experiment on Thursday by forcing ourselves to not respond to any emails from authors until Friday morning. With the extra 5 hours of time this will buy us, we’ll work on creating FAQ’s and other related self-help areas of the site so that authors can get more support without having to ask similar questions.

What are your thoughts about this issue?


Dina Giolitto writes:

I was kind of pondering this question myself. On the one hand, the customer service you provide is so good that this website has become like a second online home for me. There are plenty of other article sites where I can and do post, but nowhere that compares to here. So, I agree with your point that in the long run, quick service is a good thing. Yet, the speed is also counterproductive- not for the authors but for you. When I ask a question via email, a lot of times I end up figuring out the answer, and while I’m doing that, you’re crafting a response to the question. Then comes all the follow-up- you know how it goes. That’s the trouble with email; it’s text frozen in time. Maybe you can dissuade people from contacting you personally and instead offer a posting board where they can tack up questions and then if they happen to stumble upon the answer, have the option of deleting the question? I don’t know, but in the current situation, the time wasted is a darn shame. About FAQs: I’ll tell you from my own experiences, that no matter how much “helpful information” I include on my own website, NO ONE SEEMS TO READ IT. Why!?

Comment provided May 11, 2005 at 9:34 PM


Lance Winslow writes:

Well, many CRM dotcom books for online businesses recommend speedy replies. What I find is that if you are too fast, people stop reading and email every question which you have already answered on your website. If the Q and A or FAQ section is easy to get to then you can allievate some of the emails. It is like a person pressing zero to talk to a live operator before they bother to listen to the choices.

Also realize that three and four emails back and forth can also be good in that, it gets you inside the head of your customer, which is important for branding. Ask Dina, she talks about this in one of her excellent articles. The problem arises when people ask the same questions over and over, then it is nice to have a standard answer prepared for question #11 C with the subsequent answers which are most commonly asked after that you see? Almost an automated AI response, but with a personal flair to it. Today, a small group can handle the volume, but not in six months when you are approaching some quarter million articles and 25,000 plus authors? Think on it. Dina makes a strong point, I feel your pain, have had the same issues myself since email was invented.

Comment provided May 11, 2005 at 11:15 PM


Marilyn Jenett writes:

Chris…being relatively new to the Internet world, I have relied on advice from others. When I decided to submit articles, someone told me about you – not just – but you, Chris. I was told what a great guy you were and about your great customer service.

They were right. You have always responded to my inquiries and even to my humor in what I recall to be a reasonable time, if not right away. Your attention to my needs has been the basis for me to refer many others to

So whether or not the responses came immediately, it was that personalized attention that impressed me the most. I don’t recall whether all responses were immediate or delayed. I do recall your caring for your customer base.

I hope this comment helps. I don’t believe a delayed response will affect the loyalty of those who appreciate your good customer service. Also, we are supposed to run our businesses, not let our businesses run us.

Comment provided May 13, 2005 at 3:00 AM


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

Please read our comment policy before commenting.