How Quickly Should You Respond to Emails?

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You probably get emails every day, but how quickly do you respond to them? And regardless of when you actually respond, how quickly you respond to them? Well, that depends on what type of email it is! Personal emails and business emails can be treated very differently when it comes to ideal response times, so let’s break it down.

External or Customer Service Emails

When a customer emails your business, you should prioritize responding as quickly as possible. Some people are fine with waiting 24 hours for a response from a business, but more than a third of customers in 2020 expected a response in one hour or less! This is especially true if it’s an urgent issue, like a shipping change, payment confirmation, or questions about an upcoming event.

When it comes to customer service, quicker is always better.

Internal Work Emails

There’s some fluctuation when it comes to emails within your workplace. Depending on who sent the email, when they sent it, and what it’s about, you may want to respond instantly or in a couple of days.

For example, if my boss sends me an urgent message about a deliverable due by the close of business, that will be my priority. But if a coworker sends a question about where to find our org chart, it’s fine to wait to respond until I have a free moment.

Similarly, if a coworker sends me a message on a Friday afternoon about a project that isn’t due for a week, they probably aren’t expecting a response before the weekend. They might even say so in the initial email.

Personal Emails

Personal emails are much more relaxed! 10% of people surveyed are prepared to wait up to a week for a response to a personal email. Unless it’s in regards to a time-sensitive event, like a holiday get-together, baby shower, or bachelor party, feel free to respond at your leisure.

How to Manage Your Emails

Managing emails, especially if you’re managing multiple inboxes, can be a pain from time to time. Here are some tips to keep in mind to make sure you’re on the same page with everyone you’re communicating with!

  • Set expectations: Many companies, from ad agencies to individual freelancers, set expectations about response times right on the website’s contact form or within contracts. Whenever you start working with someone new, it’s not a bad idea to include a post-script at the bottom of your first email exchange with them about what to expect.
  • Send confirmations of receipts for important items: For those ultra-important deliverables, or for messages that will require time to craft an appropriate response, send your contact a quick message confirming that you’ve seen the message and will respond soon! This can help alleviate some of the sender’s anxieties about whether or not you’re monitoring your inbox for high-impact items.
  • Set automatic follow-ups if you have trouble closing the loop: You can always ask senders to follow up with you if you haven’t responded in a set number of days, but you can also automate this! Many mail clients offer “snooze” functions, and Gmail even offers “nudges” if you haven’t followed up. These are customizable within your settings and can be configured however you like!
  • Make use of your vacation responder: This doesn’t even necessarily need to be strictly for vacation! If you’re on a tight deadline and want to let people know you’ll be head-down in a project until your deadline, use your vacation responder. And if you are out of the office, make sure you include backup contacts in your automatic responses.

Originally published at




Marketing Manager at Big fan of snacks. Like, in general.

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Taryn Hefner

Taryn Hefner

Marketing Manager at Big fan of snacks. Like, in general.

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