5 ways email is hurting the bottom line for management consulting

Nick Darlington,

Writer

20 December 20210 min read

It’s estimated that email consumes about two hours of an employee’s time per day and costs companies close to $6,000 per employee annually. Read five key reasons why email is costing management consulting firms.

It’s estimated that email consumes about two hours of an employee’s time per day and costs companies close to $6,000 per employee annually.

Your team spends a lot of time emailing behind the scenes of every project. Lengthy email threads, confusion over who’s handling what, and time spent triaging inboxes lead to not only fatigue for individuals, but also serious inefficiencies for your business.

Below are five ways email is costing management consulting firms time and money.

1. High email volume is unmanageable

Teams today are inundated with emails. In a survey of more than 2,000 workers, 68 percent of people said the number of emails they’ve sent and received has risen in the past three years.

If managing such a high email volume wasn’t tricky enough, outdated email practices like managing communication from individual inboxes and distribution lists are only making it more challenging.

The result? Clients take their business elsewhere.

Many emails go unanswered for hours or—worse—get overlooked in all the clutter.

Your reputation suffers and you risk losing clients to the competition—a big problem considering that 33 percent of Americans will think about switching companies after a single bad experience.

It’s an even bigger problem for a management consulting firm like yourself, which relies strongly on referrals to build recurring revenue and a loyal client base.

Moving to a shared inbox model can solve distribution list problems and reduce email volume significantly. Plus, by getting email under control, you free up time to do better work and take on higher-value projects.

2. Information gets siloed in email

In management consulting, you’re often working together on client deliverables. It’s a group effort.

But email, by its nature, silos information. Not everyone on your team may be included in incoming messages or see outgoing replies. And because replying to all can cause email overload, many choose not to.

Client service suffers, and trust erodes

The result is that teams often don’t have the right amount of context to give educated replies. Instead, they waste time getting updates from colleagues or asking clients the same questions they may have already answered.

Clients then get frustrated having to repeat themselves. All this makes you look disorganized and unprofessional—and erodes trust. With clients not trusting you, business growth becomes stifled.

3. Email makes your team less efficient

According to McKinsey, the average worker wastes 28 percent of their workweek handling emails—more than 11 hours per week! For management consultants, this figure is probably much higher. This means you spend many hours sorting through emails and parsing through long, never-ending email threads.

And when you need some context? You’re left waiting for a response from someone internally, while the client waits for a reply. And when there’s a lot of email and notifications from other communication channels, this makes a lot of noise and distraction for your team to combat on a daily basis. This means less time for your team to spend on strategic and deep work for the client.

After all, they’re paying for the time you spend providing expertise and driving better business outcomes, not managing email.

4. Other tools don’t connect with email

You’ve got tools and systems that you use to track your billable hours like project management, CRM, time tracking, communication software—and much more. These may be specialized and require custom APIs or integrations, so they don’t always play nice with email. But you still need to reference them when emailing clients.

So, what do you do? You click back and forth between apps, gathering and organizing the data you need to complete the task. Context switching can lead to many unfinished tasks and wastes time, which equals money (billable hours). You also risk making more mistakes (e.g., data errors) which can cost clients money and erode their trust in you.

5. There’s no accountability and visibility built into your email

Being a management consultant involves a lot of delegation and collaboration to get work done. A partner or managing director may sometimes be the only person who interfaces with the client, but there are also many internal steps like reviews, spot checks, and meeting updates that happen behind the scenes.

If you’re managing communication from individual inboxes, distribution lists, or group aliases, there’s no way for your team to know who’s responsible for replying to an email from a client.

Two big problems usually occur:

  1. No one replies because everyone thinks someone else has.

  2. Your team sends several replies—maybe even with different answers, which looks incredibly unprofessional to the client.

As a result, there is zero accountability when things do go wrong.

Both scenarios also lead to poor service and unhappy clients who lose trust in you and may not want to do business with you again.

But with clear accountability over emails through a shared inbox, there’s no confusion over who should reply. You can assign an owner to every email, preventing multiple or no replies.

Plus, added visibility into emails means everyone can see who’s responding to any email at a specific time.

Improve how you manage email

The inefficiencies of email can be particularly costly for management consulting firms, with time being wasted and thousands being lost per employee annually. But it doesn’t have to be if you use the right tools.

Front is a hub for customer communication that allows companies to offer tailor-made service at scale. Since Front looks and feels like email, it’s easy for the team to collaborate on personalized communications and deliver the best responses faster.

Learn how Front can deliver tangible ROI value for your team—significant productivity savings, more revenue per client, better SLA performance, higher employee retention —and more. To learn more, download Front’s report by Mainstay.

Written by Nick Darlington

Originally Published: 17 December 2021

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