All your questions answered.
1. How does the Better Emailing™ system improve my productivity?
The Better Emailing™ system offers new tools to help deal with internal emails by sorting emails into high and low priority groups. It also gives you, the recipient of emails, control over what you receive – you manage the email rather than email managing you. For example, if you are copied on an email thread where you no longer want to be involved, you can step to the sideline. You can also provide a message about why you aren’t participating. Other participants in your organization will see you have stepped to the sideline, helping everyone understand who is and isn’t involved in the conversation. They can invite you back into the conversation if your input is needed at some later point. Similar tools like delegate, redirect, withdraw, closed issue and quiet time allow you to sort low priority items out of the way. You can also mark certain conversations as a higher priority, or sender’s can specifically mention which items individual participants need to take action on – identifying high priority items for you.
We believe the Better Emailing™ system will result in a 30%+ reduction in emails for organizations with high levels of internal email. This improves productivity because people aren’t wasting their time dealing with low priority messages, allowing them to refocus their attention on more valuable work.
2. There are a number of email prioritization tools available in the market today. How is the Better Emailing™ system different?
Most solutions in the market today require someone to prioritize or reprioritize emails as they are received. This means you are required to touch each email as it is received. The Better Emailing™ system works upstream in how it handles messages. Once you prioritize an email thread using one of our tools (e.g., Sideline, Delegate, Redirect, Withdraw) you do not touch it again unless you decide to change your prioritization. So, if you step to the Sideline all of the emails associated with that conversation are automatically filed in your Sideline Folder and you do not need to touch them again.
The Better Emailing™ system keeps people informed. Other tools allow someone to mute or ignore email conversations, but they do not keep others in the conversation informed about each person’s status or involvement in the conversation. Consequently, most people avoid using this functionality. By making people aware of others’ status, our tool allows people to ignore messages safely.
The Better Emailing™ system is easy to implement because it works hand-in-hand with the Outlook interface and tools people are familiar with. There are some tools in the market that treat emails as to-do lists or a broadcast function. They solve the productivity problem partially and change the user interface drastically. These tools make it necessary for people to change how they work, something that isn’t easy to do. Our system is easier to adapt to because it uses the ever familiar email, but enhances it with easy to understand features like stepping to the “sideline”.
Unlike other products that offer one or two features for prioritizing email, the Better Emailing™ system has a comprehensive set of tools, helping people address a wide range of situations.
3. How does the Better Emailing™ system help email recipients to better understand what the sender needs?
Today’s email systems allow someone to mark messages as urgent, but it can be very difficult to understand if it is urgent for everyone and what action the sender expects from each of the recipients. Some users indicate urgency and a need for action using keywords such as #ACTION or #URGENT in the subject line, unfortunately, these phrases get stuck in the subject line forever, even after action is not needed, or the message is no longer urgent. The Better Emailing™ system provides a pop-up window before each internal email is sent, asking the sender to clarify what they want and expect from each recipient. For some it may be they need to take urgent action while for others, it is just an “FYI.” This information is used by the Better Emailing™ system to automatically sort the messages in high and low priority folders. Further, this information is associated with individual participants, making it easy to identify high priority items for the right people.
4. Does the Better Emailing™ system help manage my inbox when I’m out of the office?
The Better Emailing™ system helps you manage your email when you are in and out of the office. Our mobile module allows you to take action on emails when you are away from your desktop. We have also developed a tool to help manage email associated with Closed Issues. Often times when people are on vacation or traveling for business, emails are received related to an issue that is eventually resolved. Our Better Emailing™ system has smart intelligence that tracks the email thread related to issues. When it senses an issue has been resolved, because email traffic has ceased, it will query the originator and last respondent to confirm this issue has been Closed. If they confirm it has been resolved, the system will sweep all of the email traffic associated with the issue into a Closed Issues file. When someone returns from vacation, their email inbox isn’t stuffed full of messages related to Closed Issues. Our system helps people catch up by collecting these emails in a designated file so they can be reviewed if someone is interested in seeing what happened while they were gone.
5. What is the target market for the Better Emailing™ system?
Our target market is organizations with lots of unproductive, internal emails. Initially our system is designed as a plug-in for Microsoft Outlook. In order to maximize the impact of the Better Emailing™ system, an organization would install our software package for all email users.
6. How does the Quiet Mode tool improve productivity?
Other email systems offer tools to help a user avoid interruptions. Unfortunately, those tools are often designed as an “all or nothing” solution, meaning someone is offline and there is no way for messages to get through. The Better Emailing™ system provides an improved approach by allowing an employee to designate which emails can get through (e.g. Urgent Action Required by me). This helps ensure an individual isn’t bothered by routine email traffic but they will see something urgent. Our system also offers a unique feature in that it tells the sender of an email when one of their recipients is in Quiet Mode. By knowing this, the sender’s has more realistic expectations about when the recipient may respond.
Quiet mode is also very useful when someone signs off for the day. In today’s 24-hour global work environment, many users check their email constantly, even after hours. People are afraid they will miss an important message. By going into quiet mode during off hours, users will not receive non-urgent emails. This will improve employee satisfaction by ensuring only high priority messages are received after hours.
7. Are there other valuable tools offered through the Better Emailing™ system?
Yes, our system allows people to suggest an alternative method of communication and resolution when email might not be the best approach. Who hasn’t seen unproductive email arguments? The Better Emailing™ system offers a tool where people can suggest a phone conversation or meeting to resolve an issue in lieu of email. The suggestion can be made directly or anonymously.
Another useful feature is the ability to triage “to-do” items received through email. Employees can quickly sort through high priority emails and assign importance and urgency to them. Items can also be classified by the anticipated time to address them (e.g., quick hits or projects requiring more time). Employees can then schedule important and time consuming tasks, and work through the rest of the tasks as time permits.
8. What are the unique advantages of the Better Emailing™ system?
- The system is efficient and easy to use as a result of One Touch Prioritization – When you act on an email thread, there is no need to handle the issue again, unless you choose to change the action or prioritization.
- Improved Communication through Individualized Priorities – The person sending an email is able to clearly identify the action they expect or need from each recipient.
- Communication is also improved through Real Time Participation Status – Everyone in an email thread knows the status of the other participants. If someone has redirected the message to a more appropriate person, or stepped to the sidelines, everyone in the conversation will know.
- People are able to Maintain Control in a manner that is best for them – When action is taken, emails are retained in designated files so they can be easily retrieved.