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Email Responses. The Art of Timing.

We live in a fast paced society where many customers want things and they want them now (sounds like my 3 year old). This includes answers. There is value in having quick response times to customers inquiries. A LOT of value. But there are also times when you need to sit on an email (or Etsy Convo) for a few minutes, hours....days? No, not days. Definitely not days.

I often find when I answer inquiries quickly I have a much higher chance of making a sale with that person. Whether they are impulse buying or shopping around - if you answer their questions quickly they are likely to decide right then and there whether or not they will buy from you.

When to respond quickly:

There are likely many inquiries that you get all the time. These are easy to answer- you already know the answer having answered it many times before. Without thinking you can respond with little effort. If you have the ability to save answer snippets for these frequently asked questions take advantage of them! Currently, Etsy allows for 10 saved snippets. Use them all, if needed. It will save you time and lots of typing. Currently I have saved answers for:

  • coupon code inquiries

  • custom order inquiries

  • items out of stock

  • no stem flowers

  • how-to connect flowers to stems

  • our return policy

  • pre-order information

These custom made answers save me time and spares my patience of having to write the same answer over and over and over. And over.

These questions are often basic shop inquiries. They should be easy and quick to answer. But not all emails are basic shop inquiries.

When to wait:

Sometimes, hopefully not very often, you'll have emails that are harder to answer, mentally and emotionally. Sometimes they involve an unhappy customer or an in-depth inquiry or proposition. These are the times that you may need to take a step back and sit on those inquires for a time. There will be times when a customer is unhappy. Often it will be over something that is out of your control, such as delivery times. Your first reaction may be to write a heated response about how this is the customers fault and no, absolutely NOT, will you will not refund their order!


How long does it take for that fire to burn down within you? That's how long you need to wait. Mull it over in your mind. Put yourself in your customers shoes and try to understand their frustration. It may be they wrote that email in a bout of anger and desperation.

{If it takes you more then 24 hours to cool down you may look into having someone else respond for you that is not emotionally charged - or simply have them talk through a response with you.}

When you are ready to respond acknowledge their frustration and then let them know how you are going to fix it. How will you fix it? This will vary with each shop and we can go into ideas in another post, but keep in mind that losing money on an order may be worth the gain of a forever loyal customer - but that's for you to decide.

Other times you may have to pause for inquiries that are complex in nature, such as a business proposition that you need time to decide if it's what's best for you. Some may simply take time to sit out and write. Many times I have customers that give me wedding colors and want me to suggest floral. While my first reaction is to write, "there's a search bar, use it" I pause and reconsider the benefits of the opportunity they have given me to help.

If you walk into a shoe store and ask an associate for help do they say, "there's the aisle of shoes, search for yourself"? I would certainly hope not, and neither should you. You may have so many products that even searching a simple color may bring search results that are overwhelming. Instead, be the shoe shop owner that asks, "what colors are you leaning towards?" "What size do you need?" "Are you going for casual or classy?" These leading questions can help you narrow the field for your customer and make your response less overwhelming for them.

Emails are your time to shine in the customer service department. Timing is key in making or breaking a customer. When you can respond quickly, do. When you need a minute, take it.

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