How to Enhance E-Mail Response - Part 2 Why People Do not Respond to e-mails ?

Ever since its emergence in the nineties as an inexpensive and easy way to communicate - e-mails have quickly gained popularity and replaced most paper-based communications.

However, extremely large number of e-mail communications has created many problems - lack of response being a major one. Why people do not respond to e-mails ? In previous issue - we examined 3 scenarios and 15 cases. In this issue, we examine the first one: Scenario - A with 6 underlying cases.

Scenario - A : John receives your e-mail but does not respond..

Possible Cases:
  • Case 1 : John decides not to respond

  • Case 2 : John is undecided or waiting for something he will respond later

  • Case 3 : John feels your e-mail does not deserve a response

  • Case 4 : John is on vacation

  • Case 5 : John deletes your mail without reading, thinking it to be another spam or virus

  • Case 6 : John receives your garbled e-mail and decides its too much taxing, deciphering your mail (perhaps you sent html formatted mail that John's mail client read as plain text)

If John is on vacation and does not set vacation mail autoresponder in his mailbox - there's not much you can do. Important point is - consider this as a possible reason for non-response - do not jump to a conclusion on John's attitude. Perhaps a telephone call may be the right way.

If John is undecided or is waiting for something - sending a reminder after 2-3 days may yield immediate response.

That leaves us with two choices - John does not respond or he deletes your e-mail.

There are many reasons why John may delete your mail without even reading. We shall discuss that later.

For cases 1 and 3, - there's not much you can do if John deliberately does not respond for some special reason or thinks poorly of you. However, it may as well be your e-mail - its style and content - that did turn John off !

Style and Content - How professional is your communication ?

Internet is borderless, anyone is free to surf web-sites in any part of the world. It is also free - the surfer need not reveal his/her identity to anyone. This anonymous feature has done wonders to nurture free thinking without fear of identity loss and reprisal - necessary elements for democratic society. It has also given small and medium business enterprises a level playing field.

However, this anonymous nature of Internet has also helped scamsters, con artists and cheats to operate globally under anonymous or fake cover. At the very least - the sender may exaggerate his/her position in domestic market or make false claims - there's not much the recipient in a far away land can do to check the claims physically.

In such circumstances - communication style plays a significant role. In the virtual world of cyberspace, often the only means your customer has to evaluate you is your communication - your language, presentation and style. Your e-mail/web-site/ presentation etc. are your faces to the world - and these must inspire sufficient confidence in your customer to transact business with you or at least take you seriously. This is a marked difference from traditional business and you should be aware of this feature of e-commerce.

You may be a leader in domestic market - but your overseas client may not know that. A badly written letter with lots of typos does not convey a positive image and mostly go un-answered.

What makes an offer professional or get distinguished as serious ? The hallmarks of a good communication are precise and relevant content, pleasing format/style and professional presentation.

We shall discuss elements of format, content and style of professional communication in next issue.

Happy and Productive Surfing

Dr. Amit K Chatterjee

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Source: FAIDA - Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad Vol: 5, Issue 5 ; August 27' 2004

Author : Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development, MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of his own. He may be reached at )

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