Team Collaboration

4 Big Reasons Email Will Not Work for Successful Client Collaboration

Throwing emails in the trash

With over 2.6 billion active users around the world, there’s no denying that email plays an important role in business communication today.

And to be clear: that’s not what we’re trying to do here. In just about every role and every industry, email has made jobs easier.

Sales, customer support, marketing, finance, business operations…all should give a tip of their hats to the guy (or guys) responsible for creating email in the 1970’s.

captain giving a tip of his hat

In short — we love email.

But here’s the truth:

You need to stop using email for project collaboration.

We’re sorry to be the messengers here, but on behalf of all your past and future clients, it’s time to take your communication and collaboration strategy to the next level.


Here are just a few of the reasons:

#1. Email isn’t built for group communication.

Email works fine in a one-to-one information exchange, but it’s pretty awful when you’re gathering feedback from a group. And of course, collecting feedback from clients (as well as your internal team members) is an essential aspect of project management.

Susan DeFranzo explained the role feedback plays in the performance of best-in-class companies in her post on the Snap Surveys blog:

“For top performing companies ‘continuous improvement’ is not just a showy catchphrase. It’s a true focus based on feedback from across the entire organization – customers, clients, employees, suppliers, vendors, and stakeholders. Top performing companies are not only good at accepting feedback, they deliberately ask for feedback.”

The problem with using email to collect that feedback is that it restricts the free flow of ideas. Email is — by design — one person talking to an audience; not a collaborative conversation.

This becomes particularly obvious when dealing with a shared document.

Imagine you attach a project mockup to an email and shoot it off to five members of your team.

What happens next?

You receive five separate revisions to that mockup back in your inbox.

Some of those revisions may be the exact same suggestions…

Others may overlap or override each other…

And that means sending another five emails just to get everyone on the same page.

this is the worst

Your employees encounter issues with tracking document changes almost 25 percent of the time.

tracking changes to documents for collaboration

(image source)

Still, 82 percent of teams still use email for document collaboration despite that inefficiency.

file sharing over email

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And while it’s a bad enough collaboration experience for your own team, just imagine what that clunky email back-and-forth feels like for your clients.

Which leads to the next reason email isn’t suitable for client collaboration…

#2. Email doesn’t feel professional.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s entirely possible to write a professional business email — that’s not the problem.

Instead, project managers should worry about the way project collaboration through email impacts their customer experience.  

Think about how that chain of feedback emails looks and feels to your client. If team members sharing their unchecked opinions on project status and revisions, it doesn’t necessarily promote a professional feel for your organization.

And with 86 percent of customers willing to pay more for a better customer experience, you might find yourself quickly losing clients to a competitor that offers a better method for collaboration…even if their services cost more.

importance of customer experience

(image source)

Of course, one commonly suggested solution to this problem is to filter all communication through a single point-of-contact at your agency (most likely the project manager).

But, that doesn’t really work as well as you might think.

Sure, you might be able to cut down on the “noise” that comes from a big group email chain.

But your customer experience still suffers when clients have to wait (often for extended periods of time) for the project manager to gather relevant information from the team — often through email.

Those delayed responses (or even entirely missed emails) bring up the next problem with email as a collaboration tool:

#3. Emails negatively impact your client response time.

Here’s a stat likely to make your jaw drop:

53 percent of customers believe the appropriate response time for an inquiry is just three minutes.

And with the average person receiving around 88 emails per day, that means you’ve probably already fell short of that expected response time for at least one client just while reading this blog post.  

emails received

(image source)

We’re all guilty of having an email get lost in our inbox before — it happens.

But the chances of a delayed email response to a client goes up exponentially when you’re collaborating with a large group of people.

And sometimes, it’s not even because your team “lost” the email or forgot to respond.

Digital agencies often have different internal team members, contractors, and vendors involved in a project at various stages in the process. Getting those people caught up on where the project currently stands and what’s needed takes time. And email isn’t necessarily the best tool for sharing a project’s history and current status.

Which leads to the final reason it’s time to say “goodbye” to email as a collaboration tool…

#4. Email isn’t nearly as a “searchable” as it needs to be for effective project collaboration.

Is there anything more annoying than mining through a chain of 55 back-and-forth emails to find the one attachment your client sent over a week ago?

the worst

Good collaboration comes from a comprehensive understanding of your client’s requirements and what your team has done to meet those requirements so far.

But using email as a collaboration tool makes that especially difficult because the shared history is maintained through a chain of messages. According to 4PSA, your average knowledge worker spends 20 percent of their time on the hunt for internal information.

Your team needs a single, easily searchable, collaborative environment.

And lucky for you, that’s exactly what Zapty provides.

Here is How Zapty Solves All of Email’s Client Collaboration Problems:

Here at Zapty, we’re excited about the project collaboration solution we’ve built for digital agencies because it works to solve a major problem you likely face every day:

How to bring together your internal team collaboration and external client communication into one efficient, professional platform.

Instead of relying on email to open the doors for client feedback, Zapty provides a web-based solution designed to solve all the problems email creates in facilitating effective collaboration between your team and your clients.

And it’s that improved collaboration that positively impacts other areas of your business, too. A great collaboration tool can boost your team’s productivity by as much as 25 percent:

collaboration productivity increase

(image source)

Your agency’s single Zapty account becomes the single-source of project communication for all of your clients. That includes:

  • Giving your clients self-service access to real-time project progress. Clients log-in to Zapty and have up-to-date information on the status of the project. No need for weekly progress report emails — clients can access those updates themselves whenever they please.
  • Live chat for faster client response times. When clients do have an inquiry, they can contact their project manager directly through the portal. That project manager can then quickly loop in other team members to share their insights, or field the response themselves.
  • Group collaboration through live annotation and proofing directly on the Zapty platform. No more sending a proof through an email and getting ten different revisions back. Instead, your mockups live directly in Zapty, where client and internal team member feedback gets tracked through comments and annotations directly on the document itself.

zapty annotations

  • A shared, easy-to-access project history. Don’t let your team members waste time getting caught in the weeds of an endless email chain. Zapty maintains a complete project history that is easily searchable and shared by both you and the client.
  • A cohesive brand experience for your agency. Live up to your reputation with a professional, customized platform designed to match your agency’s branding and user interface requirements. Zapty is a white label solution, meaning we adapt our product to meet your agency’s needs and customer’s demands.

Ready to give it a try?

Time to put your email communication strategy to bed.

Start a free trial of Zapty’s project collaboration platform and see how much your internal and client collaboration improves.

Get Started Now

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