What do you think is the most widespread office tool used amongst your peers and coworkers? If you answered email, you are correct! Employees use email throughout the day to communicate with coworkers, clients, vendors, and the list continues. In fact, a study by McKinsey found that employees spend 28% of their workweek managing their email, the equivalent of 11 hours if we assume that an employee works 40 hours a week. So, how can we help employees more effectively manage their email?
Email Management Pitfalls
Let’s start where most people do when they read and write an email - the subject line. The fact is, there is not a global standard to email subject lines, and most companies don’t establish predetermined subject lines either. As a result, searching for a specific email about a certain topic wastes a lot of time especially if the email is never found leaving some to wonder if the email ever actually existed.
For some savvy email users, they have learned to create a folder system to improve their email organization. According to a study by Microsoft Research, 30% of email users create a folder structure to organize email. However, ironically, 90% of those that create folder structures don’t actually use them.
Here, we just discovered two email mismanagement issues, but if you want to dig deeper, there are many more. There are other simple things like not using reply all so that everyone on the email chain has access to the communications and decisions made based on the email content. Also, not using convenience features such as setting reminders to follow-up or complete an assigned action item. All these examples are things that can be improved, but how does a business get everyone on board with practicing better email management?
Put the Right Email Management Solution in Place
Email tools such as Gmail and Outlook contain intuitive features and functions that allow users to improve their email management. However, these tools by themselves are not enough to be able to improve firm-wide email management. While these email tools are great for facilitating communication especially for person to person, where they fall short is when emails contain specific details and information about a project that requires multiple people from multiple departments to know about changes and statuses as they happen.
An effective email management solution will have the ability to store uncategorized emails with important information in a database that makes these emails more searchable allowing employees to find the information they need, when they need it, with only a few clicks. Additionally, the emails should be in one centralized location for all relevant staff to be able to access and obtain the pertinent information. An effective email management solution integrates your firm’s email platform tool with the firm’s ERP solution to ensure all data is stored in one place.
Unravel the Email Management Mess
There’s a lot of confusion about email management solutions versus email tools. In layman’s terms, email tools are what you use to create and respond to emails. On the other hand, email management solutions allow you to quickly categorize an email from your email tool that will then add the email to a general database that lets others access the information. Furthermore, email management is more than an individual process and requires an email management system in conjunction with FIRM-WIDE established processes to ensure proper email management success.
Most importantly, email management solutions can change the culture of your company and open up the ways we communicate. They help eliminate inadvertent gatekeepers of information and ensure everyone within your firm has the information needed for client satisfaction. Lastly, they create time savings for your firm by providing easy access to the information your teams need to deliver a great client experience.