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Opinion Editorials

Responding to all customer emails for Inbox Zero is a waste of time

(OPINION) Every professional should treat their inbox as an appetizer—not the main course. Inbox Zero is great in theory, but not always in practice.

achieving inbox zero

Losing sight of the bigger picture

In a world where we mark our progress with days on a calendar or a number in a checking account, it’s easy to get so lost in the details that we lose sight of the goal itself. This is particularly true of the Inbox Zero philosophy — a practice that, in the long run, will do your company more harm than good.


Patient zero

The Inbox Zero philosophy started as a way for businesses to ensure that no email goes unanswered. The goal is for even small businesses to cultivate a near-perfect customer service record, thus increasing their public profile.

In reality, of course, maintaining a zero-email policy is an incredibly time-consuming endeavor that’s more likely to leave you crying into an empty pint of Häagen-Dazs ice cream than gazing into an empty inbox.

Chasing your tail

Given that even low-level contractors can see upwards of 50 emails a day, Inbox Zero is rather sketchy as a policy. Small businesses simply don’t have the bandwidth to manage the actionable side of their company and satisfy every tiny request that comes through. This effect compounds as businesses grow and gain publicity.

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Similarly, consider the ultimate goal here — is it really an empty email inbox, or is it top-notch customer service and client retention? While the two aren’t mutually exclusive, they sure as hell aren’t synonymous.

Focus on the main course

Instead of looking at an arbitrary number next to an arbitrary inbox, consider the meaning behind that number. When you break it down, all it indicates is your customers’ level of interest in your services, not your half-baked, generic responses or salutations.

Results speak louder than emails.

To truly do your inbox justice, you should be focusing on fostering a workplace culture of productivity. Spend your evening hours mulling over ways to help your clients achieve their goals in a mutually beneficial manner, not poring over a crowded inbox.

Remember, folks: quality over quantity.


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Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

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