Entrepreneurship

Techniques To Politely Chase An Email Response

Cameron Fleming | 29 June 2022 | 2 years ago

Techniques To Politely Chase An Email Response

In today’s fast-paced world, speedy communications are key. To minimise the chance of being left waiting for weeks for tardy responses to important emails, try these simple techniques to politely chase an email response.

  • Forward on, or reply to all using the original email. This ensures the chaser email is seen in context with the original email 
  • Be clear about the time frame that you need a reply and the reasons why
  • Copy in a senior manager or colleague 
  • If the email reply you’re waiting for is urgent, pick up the phone and talk to the recipient to draw their attention to the email in case it has been missed
  • Remain polite when chasing and don’t come across as accusatory or aggressive in your follow up 
  • Include a call to action 

Emails Can Be Efficient

With over 90% of adults owning a mobile phone or computer, it’s safe to say that we have never been better connected. Reliable 5G connections, mobile broadband and wi-fi hot spots are readily available in large areas of the UK meaning that nearly all of us can be reached by email at any time of the day, wherever we are.

Unless the person you’re emailing is on holiday, is away from work due to illness, has their notifications turned off or is in a communication black spot, it’s unlikely that they won’t have received your email almost instantly. With Ofcom stating that UK adults check their phones every 12 minutes, it’s fair to say then that email communication is one of the most efficient ways to reach others.

Getting A Reply

Regardless of how quickly an email is received, busy work schedules and personal life commitments can impact the time it takes to respond to an email. Taking simple steps to set expectations on reply time such as marking an email as urgent, requesting read receipts, or adding ‘response required’ or a ‘deadline’ in the subject line, you can usually expedite a response more quickly. If that fails, it’s perfectly fair to chase an email after two working days of no response.

If you’ve been left waiting for a reply to an email and need to chase a response from a friend, colleague, supplier or another contact, try using the polite chasing techniques outlined below. 

How To Chase Up An Email Response

Writing an effective yet polite chaser email that generates a reply can feel like a minefield. You want and need a response, but you don’t want to be perceived as too pushy. These simple techniques can help strike just the right balance.

Resend The Original Email 

When chasing an email response, remember to forward on, or ‘reply to all’ using the original email. This ensures that the chaser email is seen in context with the original email and means the person you are chasing doesn’t have to waste time trying to find the email that you sent them in the depths of their inbox.

Be Clear When You Need A Response By 

Clear, effective communications are key when it comes to getting the responses that you need. Make sure that you are clear in your follow-up email when you need a reply and the reasons why.

For example, if you give a date that a response is needed, it can be helpful to set out the consequences of not having a reply by this time such as:

  • if I don’t hear from you by X date, I will proceed with the action below.
  • if I don’t hear from you by X date, we will have missed the opportunity to proceed.
  • If I don’t hear back from you by X date, then we will have to look at an alternative plan.
All of these statements put the onus on the person you are emailing to respond quickly on the matter the email relates to, otherwise, they will cause a delay, missed opportunity or additional cost to you or their plans. It should also then come as no surprise to them when you chase them up for a lack of response!

Copy In A Senior Manager Or Colleague

Whilst nobody likes to tell tales, the act of copying a colleague or somebody more senior at their place of work may jump-start the recipient into taking action quicker than if it had just been sent to them. This can be particularly effective if you know the recipient likes to appear efficient and in control of situations at work.

Equally, this technique can also be a way to get a quicker response because the new person who has been copied in may end up chasing a response from the original recipient on your behalf. This is particularly likely when they can see the outstanding information required or time frames involved, or even just to ensure that you don’t start chasing them instead!

If you don’t know anyone else that can be copied in, you can try calling the main office number and asking for an email address for somebody else who can assist you due to a lack of response from the person you are waiting to hear from.

Follow Up With A Phone Call 

Whilst it’s true that emails are delivered nearly immediately, people reading those emails do have plenty to do other than reading and responding to emails all day long. The person you are waiting for a response from may have received your email but may have forgotten, been distracted by other work, or have accidentally delighted in it. With this in mind, if the email reply you’re waiting for is urgent, pick up the phone and talk to the recipient to draw their attention to the email in case it has been missed.

A phone call can be especially helpful if the recipient reads new emails on their phone when they arrive with a plan of following up when back at work the next day. By the time the next day arrives, new emails have arrived which have dropped yours further down the inbox or they can easily delete emails inadvertently with a single swipe on a phone. A quick phone call can help to prioritise your email in a sea of others.

Stay Polite

When chasing an email it’s important to remain polite but to the point. Never berate the recipient for not responding sooner, simply draw their attention to the missed email and set out your expectations for when a reply is needed. Avoid sounding aggressive or confrontational because you don’t know what is going on in that person’s life to cause the delay in their response. In 99% of cases, a lack of response is probably simply a case of a busy workload rather than any intentional ignorance or delay.

Include A Call To Action 

Being clear about what you want the email recipient to do after reading your email is important. If you want a reply, a callback, a form filled in, or answers to questions asked, this all needs to be clearly stated.

When To Chase An Email?

Don't forget to follow up reminder on notebook

You should always try to give email recipients at least two full working days to respond before chasing. If you have received an out-of-office notification indicating absence due to holiday, illness or working schedule, in the meantime, then you can adjust your expectations for when you may receive a reply.

If no notification of their absence has been received, then two working days should be more than sufficient time to wait before chasing unless you need an urgent response.

In the case of urgent responses, you should always follow up your email with a phone call to ensure the recipient is aware of the time pressure that you’re working with.

When calculating working days, you need to factor in their working days, not yours. For example, you may be sending your email on a Saturday evening but the recipient only works Monday – Friday. In this case, you should wait until Wednesday morning before chasing a response if you have not heard anything back.

Example Chaser Email

The most effective follow-up or chaser emails are short, professional, and to the point. Here is an example using the techniques we have shared in this article:

Subject line: Response required to email dated 01.05.22

Dear [Insert recipient’s name here],

I sent you an email dated [Insert date of the original email] and I would appreciate it if you could review the email and respond to me as soon as you can.

The matter in question can’t be progressed without your input, so any further delay will mean that we will incur further costs which we would like to avoid. 

I trust that you have all the information you require to respond swiftly but if you need anything further or need to speak to me about this, you can reach me on my mobile 07234 42XXXX any time between 09:00 – 19:00 Monday – Friday. 

If I don’t hear from you by the end of the week, I’ll call you at your office.

Yours sincerely,

Sarah Jones

Related Questions

Why Are Email Replies Needed? 

If you’ve sent an email that requires a response, it can be incredibly frustrating if the reply doesn’t come promptly. While some people may simply tell you to call somebody who hasn’t replied, there are all sorts of reasons that it can be crucial to have a written response to your emails.

For example, legal proceedings, HR conversations and actions, business documents, service agreements, edits & omissions to contracts are all examples of when an electronic paper trail that can be audited if needed is required.

For this reason, if you need to ensure that you have a timely response to an email you should pay attention to the following points:

  1. The time or effort involved in handling the email
  2. The identity of the sender;
  3. The number of recipients on the thread
  4. The user’s workload and context
  5. The urgency of the email message

Prevention Can Be Better Than Cure

typing an email at laptop

Whilst we have given you plenty of techniques to chase a response when you have not heard back from the recipient after sending an email, taking steps to prevent the need to chase a response in the first place can be a far more efficient use of your time.

Ultimately, the time it takes an individual to reply to an email will depend on their schedule and workload but by following these easy steps when sending an email, you will give yourself the best chance of getting a swift response.

Are You Sending It To The Right Person? 

If you haven’t emailed this person or team before, or you aren’t 100% sure that it is within their remit to answer the email you have sent, it’s a good idea to include the following line: “If you are not the best person to deal with this request, please let me know by return including the contact details of somebody who will be able to assist within the expected timeframe”.

This caveat gives the recipient ‘permission’ to feel that it’s ok if they don’t know how to respond to the email sent, and by asking for their assistance in getting in touch with the right person, it doesn’t leave you with no response and no contact to try again with. This is a good way to prevent recipients from ignoring your email if they don’t know how to respond to the questions asked.

Similarly, try not to send the email to more than one or two people. When doing this, it’s likely the recipients will wait for one of the other people to reply rather than pro-actively handling the response to the email themselves.

Always Proofread Your Email & Include The following Things 

Before you send an email, make sure that it reads correctly. Highlight any questions that you need a response to by formatting the font or adding a sub heading. Add in a deadline, expected response date, your contact details and any consequences of not hearing back by the date you specify.

If you’re in a rush, or up against a deadline yourself, it’s easy to trip over the words in your emails or miss out on crucial information. Without careful proofreading, it’s common to send what you think was a perfectly worded and succinct email that doesn’t make any sense at all to the person receiving it!

  • Keep sentences short and include no more than 2 or 3 paragraphs
  • Is it clear what you’re asking or need a response to? By clearly setting out your questions or points that need replying to separately from the main text or highlighting them using font formatting options such as bold, italics or different colours to the main text, it’s much easier for them to be seen. If you’re writing long paragraphs with questions in the middle, it’s much easier for these points to be missed if the recipient is skim reading.
  • Have you provided all the information you can to help the recipient reply quickly? For example, if you have a case number, account number or reference number, always include this. If the email relates to a property, always include the full address. This type of information helps the recipient find any information that might exist about the matter in their filing system which could expedite a quicker response time because they have the information they need to help you properly to hand. It also helps to prove your identity as a sender which if they are unable to do, could subject the response to further delays.
  • Always include your contact details and the best times to reach you. If you clearly state that you can take calls between set hours or are open to receiving calls after typical office hours, then the email recipient you are waiting on a response from will find it easier to get in touch with you if they need to check any details before replying to your email.
  • Communicate your expectations of response time and what may happen if this timeframe isn’t met. Without this information, there is no urgency to your email and the recipient will not know they’re waiting to hear from them within a given period. As such, they may not prioritise a response to you. You can also set urgency with a ‘response required’ note in the subject line, add a deadline for responding in the email body or use the priority marker when sending the email.

Summary

Whilst modern technology enables everyone with a phone or a computer to send or receive communications via email instantly, busy life and work schedules can often lead to delays in replies. Combine this delay with a mismatch in your expectation of when you should expect a reply, and waiting on email responses can quickly become frustrating especially if the lack of reply is holding something up.

If you need a prompt response or have set expectations in your email of when you need a reply but this has been missed, then you may benefit from using the techniques to politely chase an email response that we’ve outlined in this article.

To recap, try the following ideas to chase up an email response:

  • Forward on, or reply to all using the original email.
  • Be clear about the time frame that you need a reply and the reasons why.
  • Copy in a senior manager or colleague
  • Draw attention to urgent emails with a phone call
  • Remain polite when chasing
  • Include a call to action
  • Prevention is better than cure – know how to expedite a quick response in your initial email so you don’t have to send a chaser.

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