Is Your Message Getting Ignored?

Think about how many emails you delete without reading. Your inbox gets cluttered with specials from your favorite stores that you requested to be sent.  You just but didn’t realize a new email would show up every other day. Everyone has the friend who sends emails that he or she thinks is so funny that aren’t. There’s also the person who seems to update his status multiple times a day and “checks in” at the grocery store, work, dinner, etc. Sometimes it’s your system administrator sending you updates about every aspect of the system that you delete. Then you think, Wait, I am the administrator. My emails are always read!  Right?

Are You That Friend?

Well, I hate to tell you, but to your users, you may be the “that” friend. You may be the one telling them what time you woke up, when you got to work, and where you ate dinner.  You may be on the dreaded auto delete list.  Your email might be the email that triggers the twitch and the water cooler comments.  The big question is, What happens to that one important email out of the 20 you send?

How To Remove Yourself From The Auto-Ignore List

If you are a system administrator, it’s critical that you filter the information to your users to minimize the irrelevant communication.  Not all your users require the same information.  Here are some suggestions that may improve your communication and limit the frustration of your user population.

  1. Only send out global communications when it is appropriate.  If only one of your servers will be impacted, make sure only the users that will be impacted are notified.
  2. If you have more than one application, create a distribution list for each one.  This will ensure that relevant information is sent to the appropriate users.
  3. If you have users with different responsibilities, make sure you separate those responsibilities.  If information is sent out about when the system will be open to change a budget or forecast, only inform those that have the ability to make those changes.
  4. Let your users choose what they are notified about.  If you have a list of topics that are typically communicated, let your users decide which email groups they associated with.

When developing this methodology, use careful consideration about your approach.  For environments including only a few applications and a small population of users, don’t try a multi-tiered solution.  A spreadsheet would likely meet your needs.  For environments that are larger, think about the implications of managing these lists with a lot of applications and hundreds of users. Managing offline lists could become a job in itself, and become outdated and useless over a short period of time.

A Thought

Prior to consulting, I managed a fairly large environment.  We had more than 250 users and 10 to 20 applications.  They ranged from field headcount reporting, to home office budgeting and forecasting.  The approach I used was not complicated, it was easy to setup, and it gave the users all the control in deciding what they received.  A relational database was created to hold the distribution lists, users, and their emails.  Users could access this from a website (one asp/.net web page) that allowed them to enter their email, return the topic groups they are associated with, and allow them to change it in real-time.  Any time a new distribution group was added, a global email was sent out notifying everyone of the addition.  Email distributors (in our case, the system administrators), could use this website to send out emails by selecting which groups should be notified.

Happy Customers

This approach above took less than a day to create.  It significantly reduced the frustration from the user population. They only received emails they wanted to receive, they were aware of the different types of communication, and THEY controlled the amount of communication they received.  By empowering them, critical information was far less overlooked.

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