Thursday, 31 May 2007

Emails out of control?

Earlier this week I read about people declaring 'Email Bankruptcy'. This is where they delete all emails in their Inbox and start afresh, telling close friends and family to resend any messages from the last few days.

I also read (in a separate article) that storing too many emails in your Inbox can cause the program to crash - and all messages will be lost. Still, I suppose that has the same end result!

I remember a friend of mine telling me (must be a couple of years ago!) proudly that she had just over 3,000 emails in her Inbox - three thousand!! How on earth could she expect to find anything?

Perhaps the question to ask is how do people allow their emails to build up to this extent? Do they also have piles of paper everywhere? Or is it an 'untidiness' gene?

Personally I believe that we all have to be really disciplined in dealing with all the electronic information we receive each and every day : Emails we've been cc'd on (do question the need to 'reply to all'!), Spam Emails (get an effective filter), Ezines we subscribe to (are there any we don't really want any more?) and all those interesting-looking links to explore on the Internet (a great way of spending a precious hour or more!).

I have a quick 3-second rule that I apply to each each of my emails. Open message, scan for urgency, if urgent move to next message, if not urgent - move message to another folder called 'action' or 'pending' and deal with later. Open next message, scan for urgency .... etc. By applying this rule, 300 new messages will only take 15 minutes to filter those you need to deal with urgently.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Welcome to the FrontLine Results Blog!

Welcome to FrontLine Results Blog - a brand new venture! This is where I'll be sharing news, views and some personal reflections about small businesses and the challenges we all face. Success stories, resources, general comments and our own news too!

Your comments and feedback are very welcome, so please let me know what you think about any of the blog posts.

I thought I'd start this blog off with a recent experience I had with a car dealership (I won't name them to save any blushes!). A couple of days after having a routine service on my car, I received a letter in the post inviting me to fix the cost of my next three years' services by paying in 36 monthly instalments. There was a 14 day time limit on this offer. I put the letter to one side to think about it. The next day I received a text message on my mobile asking me to ring about this proposal and the day after that a message on my landline, also asking me to call back.

At this point, I started feeling a bit annoyed at being called so often. The following day I was in the office and the young lady responsible for the messages rang again. She said she was calling about the service proposal and I told her I wasn't going to take it up. What happened next was quite odd - she just said 'Oh, OK then.' and rang off.

It could all have gone very differently if she had done three things. Firstly, she could have given me a good reason to call her, like saving money on my next three services. Second, spread the calls out - no-one likes to feel pressured. Third, and possibly most important, explore my reasons for not taking up the offer and be ready with answers for objections.

I'm still not sure if I would have signed up had the young lady taken this different approach, but I would definitely have been more receptive to her calls and might even have considered the offer more favourably had I not felt annoyed and under pressure to decide.