We respond to most emails within 24 hours


This seemingly innocuous text is from the tech support page of a vendor that I won’t be naming. If you saw this message, how would you interpret it? I’d say that they’ll get back to you by the next day, except in rare situations where volume is high. Well, after exchanging several emails with them, here’s what they really mean:

– Weekends are excluded, so the actual response time is 24-72 hours, after you factor in 48 hours of weekend downtime.
– Even during the week, responses often take two days instead of one.
– They only seem to send replies at the very end of the day pacific time, so hearing back in anything less than 24 hours is quite unusual.

What should the message really say? How about this:

“We try to respond to emails by the end of the next business day (US pacific time), but responses may take 2-3 business days when support volume is high.”

Yeah, it’s not as short and sweet as the original text. But at least it’s honest and tells customers what to expect. It’s frustrating enough when a product doesn’t work right. Customers may feel like the implicit promise of the product has been broken. It’s the job of tech support to make things right and restore the customer’s confidence in the product. But if your tech support process goes and breaks even more promises, it’s awfully hard to ever make that customer trust you again.