Many people have recommended responding with a canned reply or template. I actually already do this. I currently have 12 “templates” that I send out depending on the incoming e-mail. While this does save time, it is not a real solution.
This is rapidly becoming a problem of scale. Responding to 20 e-mails using templates is one thing. Responding to 200 is another entirely. Without complete automation, time saving techniques break down when volume reaches a certain level. There are a few measures I may take to try to re-route people before they even submit an e-mail through my contact form, but I’m constantly amazed at what some people will overlook when they are on the web. Big red flashing letters or no – you can’t force people to read.
I agree that not receiving any response is not a good thing. However, I think a case can be made that there are some e-mails that perhaps do not deserve a response.
The option I’m considering most right now is to send an auto-reply with a generic message similar to Amanda’s suggestion. However, instead of reviewing the incoming e-mail and sending out the reply, the reply would go out automatically to anyone who uses the contact form, and that e-mail would be slightly modified.
Instead of the
This response is to inform you that your email falls into one of the following categories:
text, I’m thinking about using something more like this:
This is an auto-response to your email. Please note that this is the only reply you will receive if your e-mail falls into one of the following categories:
(but worded a little more elegantly). Keep the ideas coming…