5 Problems That Arise from Outlook’s “Reply-All”

By standss Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Should you do  Reply or Reply-to-All? Have you ever looked at an email and wondered if your reply should be seen by ALL other recipients included in the email?

In most cases a simple ‘Reply’ would suffice, as only the sender would receive the email.

Situations where a ‘Reply-All’ would be justified is if the information being sent adds value and relevance to all the recipients of the original email.

On the other hand, Reply-All should NOT be used if your reply is a ‘Thank You’ or ‘Ok’. In this case, either using Reply, or providing no reply will do, as the subject matter is not necessary for the sender and all the other recipients to see or be a part of.

It is also important to note that at times these Reply-All email chains are the result of an accident, i.e. clicking ‘Reply-All’ instead of ‘Reply’. Users do not always fully  understand the function of Reply-All, resulting in email chains sent back and forth without knowing about all the other included recipients.

Regardless of the intentions behind clicking Reply-All, by choosing to send a reply to all the recipients listed in the email, many problems can arise.

In this post we will be looking at some of these problems and why they should be avoided.

Emails or Spam Mail?

The first problem with Reply-All messages is that they are very annoying. At times these messages are similar to spam mail, which for many organizations is not something they want to deal with on a daily basis.

For instance, if you were part of an organization that employed thousands of people around the world, and one of your associates accidentally clicks Reply-All to an email that all the employees are addressed in. The amount of emails being sent would be HUGE. In addition, once others start replying back using Reply-All on the same email chain, the cycle of emails being sent and received would seem never ending.

Having to constantly check these incoming emails to ensure that they are work related would be irritating and a waste of time. On the other hand, having to ignore incoming emails is not wise, due to the possibility of receiving emails from clients/customers.

Causes Server Issues

As emails are being sent back and forth, they are ultimately stored in the organizations computer servers and cloud based storage. When put in a situation where everyone in the organisation is receiving the same number of emails at the same time, multiple problems can arise for the servers.

For starters, the size of the organization and the number of employees will have an effect on the functionality (i.e. the speed and available space) on the servers. This simply means, if there are a whole lot of employees receiving a whole lot of emails, the rate at which the servers are filled may cause some problems regarding how well the servers work.

Furthermore, as the servers and other storage systems are filled, there may not be time to purchase more space, due to the lack of time and costs involved in buying more servers/space at the last minute. This could result in lagging computers and networks, due to the strain put on the servers trying to send out emails to all the listed recipients, while simultaneously trying to allocate space and data for various business operations.

With the increased pressure placed on the servers, the likelihood of it ‘flooding’ and therefore crashing is a big concern for the organizations due to the magnitude of data and emails being shared.

Decreases Organizational Productivity

The drip down effects of employees having to constantly check their emails, increasingly  slow network receptions and crashed servers will have a negative effect on the organizations productivity.

By having so many obstacles that affects so many people, from the restrictions to their ability and quality of work will also increase. Furthermore, in some situations, these problems may take days to amend, leaving organizations and their employees unable to perform their daily tasks and meet important deadlines.

Loss of Clients and Customers

Businesses can also potentially lose clients and customers if they are included as recipients in these Reply-All emails. Receiving what seems like never-ending emails, that has no relevance of their role  in the organization would be very annoying/frustrating. This may cause them to negatively perceive the company and may even lead them to part ways, to reduce the risk of a similar situation happening because of the organization.

The Secret’s Out

The final problem we will be looking at is the inclusion of BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) recipients in Outlook emails. When BCC recipients are included in emails, the recipients in the To and CC lines are unaware of their inclusion, besides the sender, due to their email addresses being hidden.

There is nothing negative about using BCC’s in the right context, such as BCCing the HR or legal department when addressing sensitive situations as a compliance measure. On the other hand, when BCC’s are used as a method of protection for gossip or as a way to confront other co-workers, is where it can get problematic.

If BCC’d recipients decide to reply to the email with Reply-All, things can get messy. For one, their secret is out, i.e. their identity and involvement in the email is made known to all other CC’d recipients. The next problem is that CC’d users now know that the sender of the email had included other recipients without their knowledge, this can reduce the level of trust the recipient has for the email sender, and it will also make them question the motives behind the email.

All these situations mentioned above, have been more frequent recently due to human error and the rush of everyday life. That being said, with a little bit of time and proper email etiquette can be avoided.

However, If you are interested in providing extra protection at the click of a button whenever replying to emails for you and your organization, feel free to download the free trial of ReplyGuard for Outlook which provides solutions for Reply-All related problems, or for increased range of email protection solutions, download the free trial of SendGuard for Outlook.

Learn more about preventing accidental Reply-Alls in your organization

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Categories : ReplyGuard, SendGuard for Outlook

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