Response time.

How quickly do you respond when you receive an email? Not a spam, selling-type email but a note from a friend or colleague, a question from a client.

How long does it take to write a simple response to an email? I guess that depends how quickly a person can navigate a keyboard. But seriously?

I’m not talking about a confrontational-type sensitive email that sometimes needs to be written in a business situation, but rather a response to a question or even just acknowledgement of the email received. Examples of quick responses:

* Thank you for your message. I’ll research it and get back to you! Have a great day!

* Good to hear from you! Life is insane busy right now; will write more later!

* Let’s catch up soon! Miss you!

In my business experience, with my clients, there is a maximum acceptable 4-hour window for a response of some sort. Depending on the request, I will reply as immediately as possible, and depending on the nature of their request, I may pick up the phone and call for clarification or expediency.

With the exception of a text or IM message where an instant response is needed, my friends and family know that I will respond within minutes of receiving their message. (Unless sent after 9pm. Then it will wait until early the next morning.)

Is it unreasonable for me to expect that response time from others? What do you consider a realistic expectation?


About Shari Risoff

Shari Risoff is an author, editor and consultant based in Raleigh, NC, USA. She studied business and spent years building client relationships in the corporate world and is passionate about communicating. She is the author of two books, Released: A True Story of Escape from an Abusive Marriage and Accidental Sabbatical. She began to consult and write full time during her own accidental sabbatical. She writes, and edits books for other authors, as well as helping small business owners with infrastructure or communication or projects of many kinds. She is devoted to her husband Stephen. When she is not working on her new book, or hanging out with Stephen, she is reading books or studying human behavior. Readers or writers in need of an editor can get in touch via email: projectmavens @ or follow her on Twitter @ShariRisoff.
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2 Responses to Response time.

  1. Dayna says:

    I think 24 hours to respond is acceptable. That is the amount of time that I ask my clients to give me to respond, although I usually will respond within a two hour timeframe.

  2. Shari Risoff says:

    Under-promise and over-deliver! Always the best practice! 🙂

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