What is the Purpose of Automated Email Replies?

I want to pose a question: what is the purpose of automated email replies?

It’s interesting to note the number of automatic email replies I receive.  What is this compulsion to reply instantly. Perhaps the same knee jerk reaction to view every text and answer every mobile phone call in preference to staying in touch with the person they are speaking to live.

Sorry, I digress.  Back to automated email replies.  I received this response at 12.48pm today and I wonder if my reaction is typical.

Thank you for your email ~ Please accept this as notification that it has been received and that I will reply as soon as I am able to.

I would like to kindly remind people that during the week I generally only run the ‘office’ side of my business during office hours 9 – 5. At the weekends I am usually working both Saturday and Sunday all day with my clients.

I will endeavour to reply to all messages as soon as I am able to.

Kind regards

These would be my observations – Office hours are normally 9–5 and as my email was received in the middle of these hours, it could have been answered or a meaningful reply could have be provided a few hours later.  Why do I need any confirmation it has been received?

I don’t expect an email to be answered any faster than a letter, so why is there this obsession a reply by return? If my message was that urgent I would make a phone call.

The person who sent me this email sounds overworked. Working 7 days a week is not a strength, it’s a weakness.  She is either a workaholic and probably not at all interesting or disorganised.

First of all she should ditch this unnecessary email response – it will respect and save time and distraction for everyone who receives it. Secondly, I would recommend she choose 20 minutes at the end of each day to review and reply but only to emails where she can contribute something of value. Others she should ignore.

To reduce her workload to something balanced and sensible she should ask for the help of a Personal Assistant audit, if only to help determine how to streamline her workload and to discover her real values and where she should focus for greater productivity.

Working long hours is not why most people start a business.  Perhaps, it’s time to stand back and re-focus on why we are in business and how we are doing against that purpose.

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