Back and forth emails are a time suck on anyone’s business, clogging up inboxes, firing off annoying notifications, and even leading to miscommunications. You don’t want to hurt your work relationships, but you do need to consider how and where you answer long emails (without losing your sanity).

It’s time to totally change your workflow, both for you and your co-workers. Cut down on back and forth email exchanges in five easy steps, and say goodbye to directionless email chains forever. 👋

Stop sending back and forth emails — try these 5 steps instead

We can’t promise to make all those massive email threads disappear, but we can give you some rules of thumb that’ll make your workday a little bit easier. Pick up at least one of these habits for more efficient communication that makes everyone’s day better.

1. Create some time

You’re constantly pulled between work meetings, water breaks, and everything else that happens in life. Ergo, we don’t always get to respond to emails how we like, or in the most timely manner.

As annoying as the saying is, if you can’t find the time, you’d better make it yourself. Responding to a slew of emails all throughout the day isn’t necessarily practical nor efficient. So what if you checked your inbox just a few strategic times per day? 🤔

Here’s how the experts suggest creating time to answer emails.

  • Check your inbox every 45 minutes, roughly 10 times during the average 8-hour workday.
  • Try the 5x method: check your email at the beginning of the day, before lunch, lunch, after lunch, and end of day. 
  • Feeling ambitious? Consider hitting inbox zero 3 times per day: mid-morning, lunchtime, and late afternoon.

Just as an FYI, these strategies don’t work for everyone. Just refrain from checking your inbox at all hours of the day, allowing you to cut back on those time-eating chain messages. You’ll run the risk of overpromising and under-delivering, or worse, destroying your work-life balance.

And if you can’t block out enough time to check email on your own, it might pay to expand your team (or at least your contact options).

2. Hop on a phone call

Let’s face it: emails just aren’t as effective as they used to be in some cases. 

Roughly 57% of people believe that emails are spam (unless they’re directly relevant), leading them to hit the trash can faster than you can say ‘subject line.’ 🗑️ 

And besides: emails are just plain inefficient. Only 20% of customers used email to chat with reps in 2020, making it almost less efficient than any other contact medium. After all, emails containing just two lines and a question mark aren’t going to help you solve problems anytime soon.

The solution? Phone calls of course!

Comparing the average email or call, phone calls:

  • Allow for back and forth conversations
  • Facilitate the spread of complicated information
  • Make it easier to get your bearings straight

This is made even easier with the use of call recording software. When it comes to capturing vital information all in a single place, there’s no question that going on record could save the day.  

For The Prime Company, their property development team heavily leans on recordings to capture information instead of back and forth email threads that suck up valuable time.

3. Use direct messaging

Emails aren’t necessarily the new snail mail, but when compared to faster mediums like DMs and text messages, they definitely look a little lackluster. Comparing texting vs email, texts allow for the spontaneous spread of information from person to person, all without the time it takes to script an email. Add that to the fact that 75% of millennials prefer texts to calls, and you’ve got yourself a winning formula for success.

If you wish to discuss something in close to real time but are not able to jump on a call, keep in mind 95% of all text messages are read in under 3 minutes and answered in an average of 90 seconds. And email? Roughly 16 to 24 minutes on average. You tell us which looks better.

Try implementing SMS customer service as we did into your customer experience, streamlining repeat text messages with snippets and automations. Once you try it for the first time, you can wave bye to endless back and forth emails.

4. Clarify your messages

Ask, and you shall receive! If your emails are frequently complex and convoluted, it might make sense to simplify things from the start.

Clarify your messages from the first email by asking very specific questions. If possible, try presenting specific action items that reduce your need for follow-up questions, especially right from the get-go. 

Consider also prompting contacts to (where applicable):

  • Include screenshots
  • Add page links
  • Tag important emails
  • Include necessary details

If you’re involved in the sales process for your business, design contact forms with unique categories and fields. Plus, you can optimize your FAQ page with additional information based on the actual questions leads are asking — as captured in your call recordings —to shorten back and forth email threads from inbound leads.

It always pays to go the extra mile, especially when it could save you precious time or money. Investing the time now will pay massive dividends one day — trust us on this one.

5. Integrate collaboration tools to reduce back and forth emails

If you’re currently collaborating with a remote team, collaboration tools will be an indispensable element of future success. And we’re not the only ones saying this, either: there’s been a 44% increase in the use of collaboration tools since 2019. 

If you’re not on the collaboration train yet, now is a good time to hop on.

Push information that requires collaboration into another platform that encourages clearer communication than email alone. Whether it’s project management software, group inboxes, or team-based solutions like OpenPhone, rely on platforms that allow you to see communication and comment in context.

Move away from back and forth emails with OpenPhone

Cut down on back and forth emails with OpenPhone's business phone app

Whether you’re a solopreneur or working with teammates, OpenPhone’s team-based collaboration tools are second to none. We can’t replace the tried-and-true email, but our messaging, shared inboxes, and built-in integrations make it easier than ever to save time. And who wouldn’t want to save extra time in this day and age? ⏱️

For all teams great and small, here’s what OpenPhone offers:

Between multi-use numbers and integrated DMs, OpenPhone is one of the best platforms for managing customer communications. But who cares what we have to say about it, right? Tune into our fantastic customer reviews instead.

“Great product. Great support. Great people. Great vision. Great price. And irreplaceable.”  —  Joseph from Trustpilot

“Excellent app. I was skeptical of its usefulness at first, but realized how valuable it is after having spent a couple of months abroad. Not having to worry about customers reaching me proved to be invaluable.”Ildar from Facebook

“Openphone has been easy to work with from the get-go. The customer support has been fantastic whenever we’ve had a feature request or run into issues (rare). Highly recommend for small businesses and solopreneurs to separate personal phones from business.” —  Ben from Capterra

When you’re ready to turn long and painful email conversations into fast, efficient customer services, we’ll be here to help. Our 7-day free trial is always available to newcomers —  including you! 🙌

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Meagan is a professional writer in VA that specializes in content marketing, research, and SEO. If she's not helping people craft their own stories, she's working on some of her own.

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