Survey: How fast do you expect a response to email?

Email is still big.

Many of us use email constantly throughout the day. It's accessible on our laptops, tablets, and phones. And, according to ICMI's latest research, email is the second most popular way to contact customer service after phone.

So, how quickly do you expect a response to all those emails?

My annual email response time survey is designed to find out. You can complete the short survey below or click here to access the survey if it doesn't appear on your screen.

  • The survey is open now through April 13
  • You'll see the current results instantly
  • I'll post the full results on this blog April 14


**Update 4/14/15** The survey is now closed, but you can review the final results and analysis here.

Special Event

Join me on Thursday, April 17 for a live Google Hangout interview with customer service writing expert Leslie O'Flahavan of E-WRITE

We'll discuss the latest survey results and I'll ask Leslie for her tips on improving email response time.

Customers and Co-workers Expect Faster Email Responses

Note: This study was repeated in April, 2018. The new study includes response time expectations for Twitter and Facebook messages. You can read the latest results here.

The results of my 2014 email response time survey reveal it may be time to re-think our response time standards. Customers, co-workers, and even our friends expect faster responses to email than ever before.

Previous years’ surveys have indicated these email response times are acceptable:

At first glance, the 2014 results seem similar to the 2013 survey. For example, 78 percent of respondents expect co-workers to respond to an email within 4 hours or less, up slightly from 74 percent in 2013.

A small problem appears when you look at the distribution of responses. While a majority of people (59 percent) are happy with a 1 day response time from a business, there's still a large portion of people (41 percent) that expect a faster response.

In a new wrinkle, I decided to see what response times would meet at least 80% of the respondents’ expectations. This seems like a fairly reasonable benchmark to use when establishing response-time standards. 

This new perspective suggest some new response time standards may be in order:

This chart suggests the following response time standards are now appropriate:

  • Responding to a customer = 4 hours
  • Responding to a co-worker = 1 hour
  • Responding to a friend = 4 hours

The survey also looked to see whether there were significant differences between response time expectations for different generations. The short answer is there weren’t. Millenials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers all have similar response time expectations. 

This data does bring up several important issues:

  • How can we meet demand for increasingly fast email responses?
  • Are there strategies to reduce the volume of email we receive?
  • Are our co-workers insane?

I will be attempting to answer these questions in a webinar I’m hosting next week called Seven Ways to Improve Email Response Times

The complimentary webinar is next Tuesday, April 22 at 10am (Pacific).



If you missed the webinar, you can watch it here plus read a re-cap.