Delayed e-mail responses are losing UK business an estimated £31.6bn a year.
One-in-three businesses will take their custom elsewhere if a potential supplier does not get back to them within just two hours, according to research from Vodafone UK.
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Vodafone questioned 1,000 business owners and managers about how long they were prepared to wait for a response to a business enquiry via e-mail, and found that tardy response rates were losing firms an average of £18,000 each time.
Despite the potential losses and tight expectations on turnaround - 79% of business decision makers expect almost immediate responses to new business enquiries - the majority of companies admitted they had no proper policy in place for following up with potential customers.
Fewer than one-in-five have a set response time and leave e-mails simply unanswered.
Vodafone said less than a quarter of workers say they respond to an e-mail from a potential customer, and one in ten confess to responding to e-mails from friends and family ahead of work-related items.
The survey found that 85% of businesses have experienced no response to a new business enquiry, and one in ten say this happens frequently.
Vodafone unsurprisingly suggested more extensive mobile working and connectivity could alleviate the problems.
It said Manchester is the least switched-on city when it came to mobile working, whilst Glasgow had the best remote working practices in place.
Managers in Brighton were the least patient about waiting for business responses before taking their business elsewhere, whilst Norwich managers were the most laid back.
Another survey found that the majority of leading Nasdaq and FTSE listed companies failed to respond to e-mails from potential investors in good time, if at all.