Introduction : E-mail Management
Roll back a decade, managing your e-mail inbox was a relatively easy task. They were rarely used to communicate crucial business decisions to employees or clients. Today’s businesses operate in multiple locations, cities, states, countries and continents.
Email is the best way to communicate and document things between various business people, division within the organization and outside. Handling your e-mail inbox effectively has become a paramount part of any business structure. Without e-mail communication, it is impossible to imagine running a smooth operating organization.
Why e-mail management is crucial
Let us explore the different ways of outsourcing the task of handling an e-mail inbox efficiently. At present, business visionaries are seen battling with one aspect on a daily basis – handling their e-mails.In a study released by a leading consulting firm Mckinsey& Co., it was revealed that C-level executives from the top companies around the world, well know to be ‘online junkies’, spend an average of 38% of their work time glued to their e-mail inboxes. Business owners of SME’s are approximately the same, spending nearly an average of 6-hours a day in keeping their inbox clean. Reading through each e-mail, classifying the important ones and then responding to them, consume a large portion of your work time. This hurts the productivity of the company, as members of the C-suite should stay focused on strategizing for the future. Due to this sole reason, many business owners and entrepreneurs have started hiring a Virtual Assistant to manage the daily inflow of e-mails.
Sure, it is a challenge. Not because it’s particularly tough, but because e-mail is one thing, more than anything else, that most entrepreneurs are most reluctant to give up control of, even though it drives them crazy. To ensure a seamless management of their inbox by a Virtual Assistant, it is essential for an entrepreneur to develop certain e-mail management guidelines for his/her virtual assistant to follow. These specific guidelines will help the VA to handle the emails as required.
Here are a few guidelines that can be shared with your Virtual Assistant:
- Allowing access to the inbox: Trust is a major factor for an entrepreneur to hire a Virtual assistant for e-mail management.They has a habit of spending a lot of time in their inbox, and responding to them personally. To achieve e-mail freedom, it’s a crucial step you have to take. You have a couple of options to provide access of your inbox to your assistant:
- Sharing your username and password. You can choose to use a password protector service like lastpass.com. A password protector application will help you to keep your actual password private, and also extend the access of your inbox to your virtual assistant.
- In-case you are using an e-mail service such as Gmail, under your account settings there is an option that says “Grant access to your account”.
- Your VA should understand your inbox structure: Your virtual assistant should know the structure of your inbox inside-out. In certain cases it is noticed that entrepreneurs are not satisfied with their VA’s work and the reason is lack of communication. Once your VA has access to the inbox, you need to spend a little time walking them through your “personal style” of handling your inbox.
- Give clear E-mail handling instructions: To extract the maximum productivity out of your Virtual Assistant, it is highly recommended to set clear guidelines. These guidelines are necessary for your VA to structurally organize the inbox. Having a few vital instructions for each type of e-mail you receive, will help the VA to manage e-mails according to your personal or business priority.
- Give your VA permission to check the inbox at regular intervals: Keeping a close watch on your e-mail inbox at regular intervals will enable your virtual assistant to promptly reply to urgent e-mails. This allows your organization to create a positive image before clients.
- Mark e-mails with different colors: Marking e-mails in different colors is one of the best ways to differentiate them. For example, you could instruct your VA to mark the urgent e-mails in red. Furthermore, you can ask your VA to inform you quickly for instant response, according to the color of the marked e-mail.
- Making use of Gmail’s starring feature and creation of folders: You can instruct your VA to make use of Gmail’s starring feature to ‘star’ important mails that you personally have to answer, or seems urgent in nature. You can also create different folders for your VA to segregate the various types of e-mails coming into the inbox. This keeps your inbox clutter-free and enables you to easily look through the folders whenever required.
- Power to delete e-mails: Giving your virtual staff the power to make decisions on their own, in line with your guidelines and business plans is definitely a way to help them grow as people and employees. The VA handling your email has the power to delete any message he/she believes is a waste of your time. For example, a bulk amount of marketing e-mails which are not relevant can be deleted instantly by your VA. This will make your inbox look much organized and will clearly save valuable time.
Once all the steps are put in place, your Virtual Assistant will help you to significantly reduce the time you spend on your inbox. However, there is no clear roadmap to having a VA handle your e-mail inbox. All entrepreneurs are different, and will set up their own systems to manage their inbox efficiently.