Cease Giving Purchasers Your Private E-mail. This is Why.

If you hate managing your email inbox, change the way you use email – and stop giving your customers a personal address.

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March 2, 2021 4 min read

This story appears in the March 2021 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe to “

Imagine this alternate universe: email addresses were never assigned to any individual. Instead, they were assigned to groups of people – perhaps because they are part of a team or working together on a project. What would have happened as a result?

Here’s what I think: Our workflow would have changed radically. And it is not too late to do so in your company.

By breaking the link between email and people, you are, with one grand gesture, destabilizing everyone’s expectations of how communications should develop, and making it a lot easier for you to recreate those expectations from scratch with a more meaningful protocol. You can organize your email inbox more clearly and change the way and when people communicate with you.

Related: 4 Things You Should Change About Your Email Marketing

For example, imagine how a company interacts with its customers. The customer is generally used to contacting a specific person in the organization if they have any questions or problems. The customer also expects a quick response. They will personalize these interactions and treat delays as a personal affront (why are you ignoring me ?!). Instead, imagine that each customer is assigned a dedicated email address in the form of [email protected]. If you operate Jane LLC and your customer is Joe LLC, the email address might be [email protected].

It’s now much easier to get your customer off the idea that their messages are going to a single person who will see them right away, and therefore better reply to them quickly! By depersonalizing communication, you have many more options to optimize it. A rotating team of people may respond, or email requests may be added to a workflow system that can be monitored.

I used this strategy to manage my writers’ communications. When I offered readers a single email address associated with my name to reach me, the news was overwhelming – not just in terms of volume, but also in terms of complexity. If you think you are interacting with someone, you can assume that they are sensible enough to read your long story and provide detailed advice, or place a phone call to talk about your business opportunity or you with relevant people to connect their network. I used to enjoy doing this, but as my audience grew it got tougher.

Related Topics: 6 Quick Tips to Clean Up Your Runaway Inbox

To improve my writers’ communication protocols, I introduced non-personal email addresses. For example, one of them is [email protected], which my readers use to send interesting links or leads. On my website, the address is listed with a simple note: “I appreciate these tips, but due to time constraints, I usually can’t respond.” If you put a disclaimer like this next to a personalized address like [email protected], it becomes mine Experience largely ignored because our expectations of one-on-one interactions are so high. However, if the disclaimer adds a non-personally identifiable address like [email protected], I get few complaints. With no preconceived expectations, you can set them from scratch.

There are many different ways to incorporate inexpensive protocols into your professional life or organization. In many cases, sharing individual email addresses provides a powerful boost to these efforts.

Excerpt from a World Without Email: Work in Times of Communication Clutter Redesigned by Cal Newport with permission from Portfolio, a reprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC Copyright © Cal Newport, 2021

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