Email is time consuming, and despite the alternatives that come and go, its use increases consistently from year to year. We have identified a number of tools, tips and tricks that will hopefully save you a significant amount of time in 2023.
1 Automation using CompassAir and CompassPulse
Amongst other things, both CompassAir and CompassPulse add value by automating tasks. CompassPulse is a suite of products specifically designed for Sale and Purchase (SnP) brokers that takes advantage of the extraordinary value Artificial Intelligence (AI) can create for an organisation.
Needless to say that by automating all those tasks in a workflow that are capable of being automated it means that more time is then available to address the remainder, i.e. those that cannot be automated.
In practical terms this often means appropriate skills can be applied in a more focussed manner, the result being that outcomes are achieved faster, and with CompassPulse automation being almost instantaneous, the goals of teams and their workflows are being achieved that much quicker.
For examples of how CompassAir automates the handling of emails, please read our article “Reducing time spent on emails“.
2 Artificial Intelligence
CompassPulse works 24/7, reading and understanding the content of emails as soon as they arrive in an inbox. For example there is PE Recorder, where not only are brokers notified of incoming Purchase Enquiries immediately they are received, CompassAir software straightaway scans the vessel database for matching ships that, importantly, are available for sale, and makes recommendations ranked according to how closely they match.
What this means is that brokers are able to respond to opportunities much faster, essentially before those competitors who continue to rely on manual searching and matching of available ships.
3 Integrated Chat – Part 1
Instead of adding to email noise, causing an already busy inbox to be even more busy, use can be made of our integrated chat, also known as “Discussions”. What this does is to allow team members effectively to have a discussion “behind” particular emails that are sent and received. The benefits include improved information sharing between colleagues; enhanced transparency – team members being able to monitor progress and the thinking behind decisions; an increase in the speed of communications as well as allowing a greater focus on subject matter, from particular deals through to issues raised by clients or customers.
So you don’t miss out on important information, when you are mentioned in a specific discussion a notification appears in the top menu bar.
When use is made of the NotifyMe feature, this means that the software, as opposed to the user, will be watching out for future emails in the same thread, something that could be as simple as a reply to an email you have just sent. As soon as the reply arrives in your inbox, an alert is sent to your mobile and desktop application. That way you know a response has arrived and there is no delay until the next time you routinely check your email. The benefits include a more productive use of time, no more missed opportunities, reduced interruptions and giving the option to respond to emails immediately.
5 Out of Office Messages
Whilst you probably have your emails delivered to your mobile, there will be times when you will need to escape from your email – whether it be when you are travelling or just having some downtime. Letting your contacts know you are away is a good idea. Indirectly they save time by not having to check email activity whilst doing something else – your colleagues will know you are otherwise engaged and will get back to them as soon as possible.
Within CompassAir, auto replies are created from within message rules. From here you can select the addresses to which the incoming messages are addressed (useful if you have access to a number of mailboxes, e.g. sales, accounts, etc.), set the duration of the rule as well as draft the message itself.
When a team responds in a similar way to a number of emails good use can be made of templates, which will save significant amounts of time. Not only that, the responses of different members in a team to a similar email can be quite diverse in terms of tone, even though the essence of the message remains the same. Templates will ensure that a consistent tone is used repeatedly, throughout the team.
Templates could be used for any subject but are often especially helpful when providing third parties with information about products, pricing, company policies, office hours and contact details, as well as for responding to frequently asked questions from customers or clients.
7 Colour Coded Emails
Colour coded emails will enable you, or your colleagues (if you use a shared mailbox), to see at a glance which emails are, for example, from whom or which are related to specific subject matters, depending on how you define the various colours. As well as allowing a fast, easy focus, the benefits include improved organisation, simplified prioritisation and clear responsibilities when used in conjunction with the delegation of tasks.
8 Hiding Duplicated Messages
It is possible to accumulate messages relating to a number of different addresses in one inbox view. For example, that view might include firstname.lastname@example.org as well as email@example.com, with a supplier sending the same message to both addresses. In CompassAir, by toggling “Hide Copies of Messages” to “Yes” under Message Settings, when an identical message is sent to both addresses only one copy will be displayed in a particular message view. Also, when a duplicated message has been read with “Hide Copies of Messages” turned on, all duplicates are marked as read at the same time.
What this means is there will be fewer emails in your inbox to review, and if you are aiming for inbox zero this will undoubtedly make that journey a little easier.
When a message has been received, whilst it’s being drafted or after it has been sent, keywords can be attached to it. These keywords will provide ways to easily identify emails when you need to refer to them in future. Not only will they be a source of information on particular subject matters, but they can also be used to identify trends. In shipping for example, they could be used to follow the volume of enquiries emanating from various maritime hubs around the world.
10 Emails Displayed as Conversations
Long email threads are easier to read when they are displayed as connected. In CompassAir, when a message is part of a conversation (i.e. one in a thread of messages), a grey triangle is displayed to the left of the message. Clicking on this triangle expands the conversation, the triangle becomes orange and any one of the messages in the conversation can be selected and can be read in the viewing pane.
11 Integrated Chat – Part 2
In addition to the “Discussions” described in 3 above, CompassAir permits team members to “chat” with each other in a similar way to, say, WhatsApp. Instead of being attached to a particular email or email thread, this time these discussions are freestanding, covering any subject that the team needs to discuss.
Making use of such a feature will not only aid collaboration between colleagues, it will speed up communication without causing more clutter in mailboxes. In other words, replacing some internal emails with chat serves to reduce email noise.
12 Remove CC’d Emails from Inbox
Inboxes can get unnecessarily cluttered, and hence take up valuable time having to deal with them, by the use of cc’s on subjects that are sent just “for your information”. That is, they are often not a high priority to you and will not need you to take action. In this case, they can be grouped together in a special folder, call it say “Incoming CC”, for later review. As before, this is achieved using message rules – ensuring all those cc’d emails are automatically filed in this new folder on arrival in the inbox.
13 Keyboard Shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts save time by making faster working possible – even by using only a limited number. Depending on the email software you are using, whether it’s Outlook, Gmail or CompassAir, the specific shortcuts may be defined differently. However, having used them a few times, coupled with the fact that they often have contain a clue (one example is our own Ctrl+P that opens a print window), they will soon come easily to hand.
Narrowing the search field will save valuable time when you are looking for a specific message. Within CompassAir we have a couple of way of doing this. The first is very quick and filters messages by read or unread, incoming or outgoing, with or without attachments, flagged or unflagged as well as with or without notifications (see 4 above) and discussions attached (see 3 above). To narrow the field even further there are advanced searches available with a very wide range of parameters, from keywords, selected words in the message body, to email subjects and through to named senders and recipients.
15 Spring Clean your Inbox
Whilst “inbox zero” might not be your goal, there are aspects of the journey it takes that can remove the stress from a constant awareness of knowing you have to deal with so many unread emails. For a brief insight into the topic and some of the steps and techniques to use, have a read of our article Inbox Zero, one of which is what is known as the Eisenhower matrix