Can we all agree that email has been around for a while? And so has the horrid Reply to All feature. And so has the ability of businesses to just turn off email boxes of employees and not monitor who might be contacting the departed. Have we learned nothing in all the years email has been a part of our lives?
Can we also agree that whether we love it or hate it, we all need to use email, the more efficiently the better? (Dealing with email is one of the chapters in my book, How to Do More in Less Time.)
Can we also agree that email is generally essential to the smooth operation of a business, including law firms?
So why, why, why after decades of using email are users still acting as though it is something new and use it the way an infant looks with fascination at a globe hanging above their playpen?
We have two gripes, both from today.
Why To Stop Using Reply to All
I’m part of a group of lawyers where communications are rudimentary. We receive group emails from the leader of the group with information about upcoming events, member news, etc. All of the recipients – 58 of them – are included in the “To” line of the email. And of course, whenever the leader sends an email, people hit Reply to All, no matter what the reason is for the response. Sometimes the “Reply to All” says nothing but “Thanks.”
Today was a classic example. One member received a promotion and the leader announced it to the group. This led to an avalanche – 17 in just about an hour – of replies all congratulating the member. The only thing I could see in my Inbox were all of the replies. None of them needed to be sent to All, but they were. Why? Because after all these years, we still cannot stop hitting the Reply to All button on our email programs. Please, please, please THINK BEFORE YOU REPLY TO ALL – ASK IF YOU REALLY NEED TO REPLY TO ALL – Pretty Please.
And by the way, there was an easy solution to this avalanche of congratulations. Had the leader sent the email to the lucky person he was congratulating, and used the BCC for everyone else, everyone else could have conveyed their congratulations without filling up everyone else’s email Inboxes.
When People Leave Your Business Don’t Just Disable Their Email – And Don’t Ignore It
People leave businesses – including law offices – all the time. And many of them actually receive important email, not just copies of congratulatory pap. Yet despite having had email for decades, firms and businesses continue to just turn off the email boxes of people who leave. What should they do? Either forward the former employee’s emails to someone else, or add an automatic reply to advise his communicants to forward all communications to his replacement. But don’t just turn off the email or leave the inbox unattended.
In this case, the employee who left worked for a court reporting firm that dealt with countless lawyers who ordered transcripts and contacted him for other matters. When he left, the firm didn’t tell anyone. It just turned off his email box. If you were lucky and found out, or called like we did when the usually responsive person didn’t respond for days and days only to find out he had departed, great. What about all of the other people who weren’t lucky or who didn’t call? I guess they don’t matter.
So Please, please, please LEARN TO USE EMAIL, Pretty Please