Are You Drowning In Emails? (Little Vent)

Business By cms2 Updated 26 Sep 2010 , 4:23pm by costumeczar

cms2 Posted 25 Sep 2010 , 5:44pm
post #1 of 10

I hate email! Anybody else? Nobody wants to pick up the phone anymore but I spend so much time going back and forth with customers through email. If time is money, I'm not charging enough to cover all this time. I feel like all these questions back and worth could be answered in a quick 5 minute phone call. Is there a better way to avoid this nonsense (other than getting rid of email) or is this just a necessary evil?

9 replies
jason_kraft Posted 25 Sep 2010 , 6:18pm
post #2 of 10

It might be helpful to write up a checklist of all questions you need answered, and reiterate all the unanswered questions in your email reply as bullet points. If you write them in paragraph form they are more likely to be ignored.

I personally find email to be much more efficient than phone calls...customers who send us email orders are pretty good about providing the necessary info (cake flavor, frosting, filling, etc.) since our product page guides them through each step. If you find people are consistently not including a particular piece of information, you probably need to specifically call that out on your form submission page and/or your main web site.

If you don't know how to make your own web forms, there are programs like this one that can help you:
http://www.webformdesigner.com/index.html

emiyeric Posted 25 Sep 2010 , 6:22pm
post #3 of 10

I'm not in business with my cakes so I might not be the best person to answer, but is there some way you could make a list of the most popular questions people seem to ask you and type it all out in advance, then just cut and paste into e-mails later? I make cakes as gifts for family and friends, but still need to go through a number of e-mails back and forth when determining what I'll be doing for each cake, and have managed to pinpoint the most popular things people ALWAYS ask me so it's very easy for me to forward almost intact e-mails to my friends without making too many changes.

I realize the questions for you will be different, but maybe that would help?

Auntie_RaRa Posted 25 Sep 2010 , 6:50pm
post #4 of 10

I prefer email because stuff is documented and it is one place. I find it helps to use a bullet format if there are specific questions. If I find that communication is getting lost after a few emails, then either I ask for phone number to call the client or ask the client contact me to get the specifics. If you feel the questions can be answered with 5 minute phone call then suggest that with the client.

loriemoms Posted 26 Sep 2010 , 2:40am
post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by cms2

I hate email! Anybody else? Nobody wants to pick up the phone anymore but I spend so much time going back and forth with customers through email. If time is money, I'm not charging enough to cover all this time. I feel like all these questions back and worth could be answered in a quick 5 minute phone call. Is there a better way to avoid this nonsense (other than getting rid of email) or is this just a necessary evil?




I get 300 plus emails a day and I hate them too. Most of the time I tell them if I can do the requested date and ask if they can just come on by the shop and we can sit down and discuss the design. If not, then I get right to the point on I can do this and that, and this is how much it will cost and if it gets into too many emails, I tel lt hem to just call me if they can't come by. I dont have time either to spend writing replies to all these emails going back and forth!

indydebi Posted 26 Sep 2010 , 5:51am
post #6 of 10

I also MUCH prefer emails.

1) Everything is documented
2) I always told my bride/client: If it's not written down, it's not happening.
3) *I* get to choose when my day will be interrupted. Emails I can check when I'm not up to my elbows in buttercream. Phones have to be answered when they ring.

(I hate answering the phone SO much that now that I'm no longer in biz and no longer have a 24/7 response job, my current VM actually says, "I dont' like VM's so please avoid leaving one. I check VM once a week, if I feel like it. Take your chances at the tone!" icon_biggrin.gif )

I never had a problem with the "50 emails back and forth" situation. As the business person, I controlled the writtten conversation. I never let it get that far.

I wrote up lots of attchments of pricing, menus, FAQ's, a "Budget Wizard" where they could figure their costs down to the dime before they ever stepped foot in my shop, wedding tips, etc. At the first phone call, I got their email address and sent them this Info Packet. "Everything you ever wanted to know!"

I would give GENERAL pricing over the phone: "Have you had a chance to visit our website where our pricing is posted for you? No? Let me have your email address and I'll send you our Information Packet and that will also give you a chance to visit our pricing page. If you like what you see, I invite you to give us a call back and we'll set up a private appt so we can talk about your vision for your wedding and how we can help make that happen with you!"

If someone is pushing for more and more detail, I would encourage you to be the one who controls the conversation (and email is a conversation) by suggesting, "your cake sounds like it's going to be pretty detailed and it will work best if we sit down together and plan this out face to face. I am available on Thursday between 1 and 3 or on Saturday after 4. Which time would you prefer to come in and talk?"

If you DO continue the conversation, I encourage you NOT to give quotes in the text of the email but to attach an actual quote sheet. It can get too confusing for you and the client to weed thru emails that quote cake A at $50 and then "if we delete the horse, then it's $45" and then "ok, if we add two fillings then it's $48". By the time you get done adding and substracting, no one knows WHAT was ordered because the client will swear she wanted the horse WITH 2 fillings. Each conversation should be a separate quote so that either of you can pick up ONE sheet of paper and say "This is the cake." thumbs_up.gif

Unlimited Posted 26 Sep 2010 , 6:16am
post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Phones have to be answered when they ring.




Heythat's what answering machines are for! When you're up to your elbows in BC, it's best to let it go to VM than to answer with "WHAT DO YOU WANT?"!!!!!! icon_surprised.gif

Mama_Mias_Cakes Posted 26 Sep 2010 , 12:41pm
post #8 of 10

My order form has the basic questions so a lot of that stuff is out of the way right off the bat. I also prefer email as well. Like Inddebi stated - everything is in writing. It is also a place where I can go back and check on something (i.e. spelling of name) if I'm not sure on my written notes. I did that once. My mind was telling me DEVON, but it was DEVIN. So I double checked the email and found that my hand written note was wrong. I just set aside time at the end of the day as I'm winding down to review my emails and respond.

tootie0809 Posted 26 Sep 2010 , 2:25pm
post #9 of 10

I agree, much prefer e-mail than phone calls, but yes, they can get overwhelming at times, especially when you have those one customers who only answer the first question they read in an email before they send it back and you have to keep emailing them for the remining answers you'd asked questions for. A numbered list, however, usually helps that I've noticed.

costumeczar Posted 26 Sep 2010 , 4:23pm
post #10 of 10

I prefer email, but if it gets to the point where you're really going back and forth with someone, you could just tell them that you need to talk to them on the phone to get things straightened out, and have them call you.

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%