Messaging apps may be taking over our personal lives — and even the office, in some cases — but email is still the essential way to do business with clients. And that’s true now more than ever: the number of global email users is expected to hit 4.5 billion by 2024, up from 3.9 billion in 2019.
For the foreseeable future, your business is going to continue using email to manage everything from sales to customer relationship management (CRM). Knowing that, it’s absolutely vital to make sure this tool is working for your agency and not against you.
The fact is, email can quickly become a source of wasted time and money.
The average worker spends 28 percent of any workweek reading and responding to emails. If you don’t track and bill that time, you could lose out on about $50,000 each year. What’s more, all that lost time might have been spent working on existing projects or improving relations with high-value clients — or finding new ones.
Whether you have five employees or 500, this revenue leak is preventable. Here are a few ways you can decrease email time leakage at your company and help your employees make the most of this powerful tool.
In the professional services industry, an accurate employee timesheet is one of your biggest assets. If time spent on a task isn’t logged, you can’t bill clients for it.
Unfortunately, many of your workers probably don’t bother tracking a big part of their workday: in a survey conducted at Accelo, we found that more than a third of respondents never track time spent writing emails. Do the math: 350 hours a year are going unbilled.
Before email, reading and responding to fax or snail mail might have taken an hour, and you’d spend about two minutes recording the time you spent — about three percent of the time required for the task was spent tracking the task.
Most email interaction, on the other hand, doesn’t take more than five minutes. But then it might take you three minutes to get into your timesheet software and log the task, meaning the overhead time on admin work is now upwards of 60 percent. That’s quite a difference.
If tracking the task takes almost as long as the task itself, how likely are your employees to spend time logging it? Since it’s nearly impossible for your workers to track every email they send, your agency is left completely in the dark: there’s no way to determine how much valued time is really being spent on an individual client.
There’s really only one way to ensure timesheets are comprehensive: integrate your email client directly with your time-tracking program. The right integration platform can:
Finally, and maybe most importantly, you’ll also be able to centralize all of a client’s email conversations, ensuring you can track emailing time spent against a particular client account. This gives you a better understanding of the full value you’re providing to this client — and the real cost of servicing them.
The average office worker receives 121 emails and sends about 40 every work day. That’s a ton of information flowing in and out of your inbox. And, if your business operates like most do, a lot of that information is irrelevant to you, only slightly relevant to you, or won’t be relevant to you until a later date. In other words, you probably shouldn’t be CC’d on most of it.
Most workplaces have developed a well-meaning but inefficient habit of including anyone and everyone in an email thread, just because they might have an interest in the topic at hand. Over a period of days, all that carbon copying is wasting hours of time that could be allocated to other tasks.
Naturally, you’re probably thinking only a few of those copied will actually need to respond, and that’s true: most will only read it, and reading an email is certainly less time-consuming than writing one. The average person only spends 11 seconds reading an email.
But here’s the problem: if you send an email to 20 people, every reply-all compounds the amount of time your team is spending reading, and pretty quickly you’re burning a whole hour of collective time with this single thread.
Relying on email as your primary method of sharing data and project information is outdated and simply not scalable. As your professional services business develops, taking on more clients and bringing on more talent, you’ll need a centralized repository for client data and project information.
That might mean introducing something as simple as a shared inbox for emails, or implementing something as complex as a full-fledged CRM platform to help juggle client accounts. To optimize your team’s productivity and cut back on time spent staring at email threads, provide your whole agency with an unprecedented level of transparency.
By using an automated system for tracking emails, your company can save tons of time and money on communications. Cloud-based email technology, shared inboxes, and email management strategies help you decrease loss and increase net profit by plugging email time leaks. By automating your business processes, you save even more time and resources.
It can take hours for employees to respond to client emails. If more than one employee responds, clients can get confused by contrasting messages. With email tracking functions like activity stream, you can access all emails related to your sales, projects, issues, or clients. Email response time tracking software gives you data on how much time was spent, when, and with whom.
When you track and manage email in real time with cloud-based technology, you can avoid expensive mistakes and unnecessary payroll losses. An automated email management platform makes your employees more accountable for time spent and less likely to be inefficient. You also get the ability to:
Many automated email tracking systems also offer a shared inbox. With an internal shared email inbox system, your employees spend less time asking for clarification before they start a task. Instead, all questions are answered once and accessed in one location.
You can eliminate duplicate or missed work by assigning tasks in a shared inbox. With a record of tasks, the time spent on them, and completion dates, you can accurately bill clients and keep employees focused.
A consolidated management tool also streamlines assignments and reduces time spent in staff meetings. Intelligent software alerts managers when team members are ready for new tasks, stalled, or working too slowly. With automated workflow control, managers can focus on supplementing the team instead of monitoring it.
Accelo is an all-in-one cloud based platform that helps owners, managers and professional service professionals manage their client work by automating business operations. The integrated platform streamlines projects, services, sales, and retainers — everything that business owners need to be successful. To see how Accelo can improve your business, sign up for a free trial today. You can also download our new eBook to learn what actionable steps leaders can take to improve productivity and efficiency.