One Trick To Maximize Your Time with Emails

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Do you find yourself sending the same email over and over again? Perhaps to answer the same question from client after client? Maybe you're a teacher asking the same question to parents? Are you starting a business and curious about a free way to manage your client correspondence?  If you're a gmail user, I am about to change your life. (Click here if Outlook is is your host!)

CANNED RESPONSES

When I found myself searching back through my outbox to copy-paste the same message I typed to inquiring clients time after time, I thought to myself "there has to be a better way." After a quick google search, I found that Google created a "lab" (mail plugin) that allows you to create "canned responses", that is, a pre-generated message that you can select from a list. This is not an automated response, but rather a list of messages that YOU typed that YOU can pick from when sending or responding to an email. The set up is very simple:

  1. Login to gmail
  2. click the gear icon to bring up Settings
  3. click "Lab" link at the top
  4. scroll down and click "canned responses"
  5. click "enable" button
  6. Write your email as normal, including the subject
  7. Click the drop-down arrow in the bottom right of the email window, revealing "more options"
  8. Hover over canned responses, then click "new canned response"

That's it! To make more canned responses, simply repeat these steps. To USE a canned response:

  1. Click the "compose" button to open up a new, blank email,
  2. Click the drop-down arrow in the bottom right of the email window, revealing "more options"
  3. Hover over canned responses, then under the "insert" section, click the response you want to use

To CHANGE or EDIT your canned responses:

  1. Click the "compose" button to open up a new, blank email,
  2. Click the drop-down arrow in the bottom right of the email window, revealing "more options"
  3. Hover over canned responses, then under the "insert" section, click the response you want to EDIT
  4. Make your changes
  5. click the drop-down menu again, and click the name of your response under the "save" section

FOLLOW UP EMAILS

Sometimes people don't get back to you right away, but you still want to let them know that you are here for them, or perhaps need to kindly, and in due time, prompt them for an answer. Here, canned responses are also great! But, when coupled with another great FREE tool, Wunderlist, it's an awesome way to make sure no-one slips through the cracks. When a client emails you, and you send a canned response back, create a "to-do" item in Wunderlist. You can lump these "to-do" items together into one or multiple lists. I use the date of the client's wedding as my list name. Then, you can even group lists into a folder (ex. 2017 weddings, 2018 weddings, etc.) The best part about this is that when you create an item, you can fill in loads of details (like email, facts you learned about the client, anything!) and then set a reminder when the item is "due." For me, I set a reminder a week from when I am entering it, that way I know when I should send a follow up email.

I might be a genius. Or I might just be insane. Either way, I hope those tips are helpful!

CLIENT EXPERIENCE

It might not be shocking that the secret to maximizing your time is trying to automate as much as possible. But what about the heart, the feeling, the customer experience? It's something that's not only trendy, but so so crucial to any business person or anyone that works with people on a daily basis. Everything is about the relationship, and the trick is finding room in the automation to make sure that your client knows they are cared about. For me, that means writing with a clear voice that's not professional and stuffy, but personable and fun. It means leaving gaps in those canned responses to insert names, details specific to the client, and always including an invitation for an in-person meeting.

The bottom line is that we all care about the people we interact with or provide a service to. It's easy to get caught-up in logistics, but we have to always zoom out and look at the big picture (pardon the photo analogies, it's ingrained). We do the things we do because we want to care for the people that God put on this planet to do life with us, and we want to work and use our abilities that He gifted us to fulfill His purpose. And for me, that means having less screen time and more face-to-face time.

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