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Simplify How You Handle Email Inquiries

A side effect of a thriving mediation practice is an increase in email inquiries, especially when you have a healthy web presence as part of your marketing strategy. I’ve seen my email inquiries triple in the last year and the increase shows no sign of abating…nor do I want it to!

But the increase made me realize that typing responses fresh each time was a monumental misuse of my time. So when I hired a VA in 2006, one of my first projects was getting her help in creating a series of pre-written email messages for my most common inquiries.

Pre-written emails not only save my time, but also improve my response time to inquiries, and so my prospective clients receive a benefit too. Pre-written emails also help ensure consistency of message and I no longer occasionally forget to include key information I believe will benefit clients’ decision making. And because I’ve crafted the “skeleton” of my reply with great care, I can respond with greater finesse than when I’m churning through large numbers of emails.

A process for managing email ADR inquiries

Here’s the process we now use in my ADR business:

  1. An email inquiry arrives in my inbox.
  2. My VA or I identify the inquiries for which there are pre-written replies already drafted.
  3. A draft reply is created, using a little piece of software (more on this below), and saved in my email Drafts folder.
  4. I open the draft reply and original inquiry, then modify the draft message as needed to personalize the response.

Total time per message before the era of pre-written drafts: 5-15 minutes. Total time with pre-written drafts from which to craft my reply: 1-5 minutes.

ADR inquiries that lend themselves to reply templates

Not all inquiries lend themselves to the use of a pre-written reply, of course. I chose inquiries like these to craft template replies:

  • Requests for more information on each of my services
  • Requests for my fee schedule
  • Requests for free consulting time on the phone
  • Follow-ups to networking and other events
  • Offers to co-mediate with me
  • Notifications from colleagues that they’ve referred a prospective client to me

Software to help with pre-written email messages

I use a Mac and love TextExpander for this task. Windows users, you might take a look at this solution from Lifehacker. There’s also a program with both PC and Mac versions called QuicKeys. I haven’t tried it but Duct Tape Marketing’s John Jantsch swears by it in an article I recommend for further reading: Pre-written Emails to the Rescue.

Do you have pre-written email templates you use? Share your ideas and join the conversation by leaving a comment (if you’re reading this in an email, click on the article title to be taken to the page and comment form).

                        author

Tammy Lenski

Dr. Tammy Lenski helps individuals, pairs, teams, and audiences navigate disagreement better, address friction, and build alignment. Her current work centers on creating the conditions for robust collaboration and sound decisions while fostering resilient personal and professional relationships. Her conflict resolution podcast and blog, Disagree Better, are available at https://tammylenski.com/archives/… MORE >

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