Inspiring better business

1 In 3 Firms Still Prioritise Replies to Postal Letters Over Emails

  • Over two thirds of Britons view emails as equal in importance to letters
  • 30 per cent of consumers had emails mislaid by firms

25 May 2010, Gloucester, UK Fasthosts Internet Ltd, (www.fasthosts.co.uk), a leading web hosting provider. The study of 1495 firms(1) finds that a worrying number still prioritise letters received over emails, and may also be alienating customers by losing emails, with 1 in 3 mislaying emailed orders at least once a quarter. Two thirds have received no training at all in the use of business email. In worrying contrast, a further survey of 1400 UK adults(2) finds that 69 per cent expect an email to be valued equally to a letter. Whilst over half of consumers (54 per cent) believe they would spend more with email-efficient firms, only 29 per cent of businesses recognise this. Furthermore, 45 per cent of Britons now expect firms to be able to email documents such as quotes and brochures, whilst 61 per cent of companies still do not offer the option.

Data from Fasthosts' 'Business Email Attitudes' study finds that a significant number of UK businesses are out of step with consumer expectations for email communication. Whilst three quarters of business owners believe email is an important tool for them, one third (34 per cent) admit to still prioritising replies to written letters when these are received. 56 per cent do not have a company policy for the time taken to respond to customer emails, and remarkably, over half (52 per cent) still do not utilise a mobile email solution such as a Smartphone when off-site.

Significantly, 58 per of firms report that customer emails have been lost or deleted in error over the past year. 1 in 3 admits to losing customer order emails at least once per quarter, and 1 in 10 firms do so at least once per month. 20 per cent of firms have received complaints as a direct result of failing to respond to customer emails, over the past year. Only 1 in 4 companies has a process in place for ensuring customer emails are fully resolved, and less than half (48 per cent) have the facility to archive emails following the completion of a customer's order. Furthermore, two thirds have received no training in any aspect of business email. Only 16 per cent of businesses have staff trained in email management.

The findings are in contrast to data of 1400 consumers that suggests the vast majority of Britons now regard their emails to companies be just as meaningful as a postal letter. Whilst 81 per cent have emailed at least one business, many firms are failing at simple aspects of email usage. 30 per cent of consumers have had emails mislaid by firms, and 36 per cent have had to re-send an email multiple times to get a response at least once during the past year. 1 in 4 (27 per cent) have experienced negative emotions such as stress or upset from having to wait for replies to emails they sent businesses.

The top email bug-bears are never receiving a reply (77 per cent), prolonged delays to replies (63 per cent) and automated replies that do not answer questions (61 per cent). Furthermore, 45 per cent of shoppers now expect all firms, irrespective of size, to be capable of emailing out electronic versions of documents such as brochures, quotations or order forms - a facility that 61 per cent of firms surveyed do not presently provide.

Steve Holford, CMO Fasthosts Internet Ltd., said "Whilst most business owners do value the convenience of email, many are failing to heed consumer expectations for how efficiently all email needs to be handled. Consumers today actively seek the use of email as a channel, and firms that neglect or lose email dialogue will lose precious revenue and reputation".

Ensuring all their emails look professional and not like SPAM has never been so important for companies. The average consumer scan-reads an email in their Inbox for less than 5 seconds before deciding whether or not it is SPAM. In fact, 1 in 4 examines each email for less than 3 seconds before deciding whether it should be discarded. Businesses can also miss out as a result of misjudging incoming emails from customers. During the past year, 27 per cent of firms surveyed have regularly deleted genuine customer emails as a result of mistaking them for SPAM.

Businesses can reduce such inefficiencies by installing email feedback forms on their website or providing email guidelines for their customers. Healthy rewards are available for UK companies willing to optimise their use of email. 54 per cent of consumers believe that they would be likely to spend more with a business if it showed it was timely and professional at responding to their emails.

Holford added, "Firms should regard their use of email in terms of customer marketing as well as administration. By investing in a professional-quality email system and the right training, any business can use the popularity of email to competitive advantage".

As a leading web host, Fasthosts offers a comprehensive range of web solutions including domain name registrations, email solutions (including mobile email services), shared web hosting, virtual servers, dedicated servers, online payment services, reseller web hosting and feature-rich broadband packages. Fasthosts is well placed to deliver a high quality service. All data is hosted in Fasthosts' state-of-the-art UK based data centre.

Full details can be found at www.fasthosts.co.uk.

  • (1) 1495 UK small companies with a website surveyed in April 2010 via electronic feedback form
  • (2) 1428 UK adults surveyed by OpinionMatters in March 2010 via electronic feedback form

About Fasthosts
Fasthosts is a leading web hosting provider. Based in the UK and operating 24x7 from their dedicated UK data centres, Fasthosts keeps over 1 million domains running smoothly and ensures over 42 million emails are delivered safely each day. All Fasthosts services can be self-managed through the award winning Fasthosts web-based control panel that provides customers with unparalleled online control, enabling them to manage hosted services including domain registrations, shared web hosting, business-class email, virtual servers, dedicated servers, software-as-a-service, internet merchant accounts and unlimited broadband. Fasthosts' maintains an award-winning, highly successful reseller channel.

For further information please contact:

Richard Stevenson or Thomas Pluennecke
Tel: +44 (0)1452 561 857
press@fasthosts.co.uk

Press contact
Richard Stevenson   +44 (0)1452 561857   press@fasthosts.co.uk

About Fasthosts

Fasthosts is the UK's largest independent hosting company. Based in the UK, and operating 24 x 7 from their dedicated web hosting data centre, Fasthosts keep over 800,000 internet domains running smoothly ensuring over 4 million emails are delivered safely each day. All Fasthosts services can be self-managed through the unique Fasthosts web-based control panel enabling customers to set up and manage new web sites, email accounts, databases, and other hosted services online. For more details please visit: www.fasthosts.co.uk

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