In December of 2010 I mentioned that I think The End of Email as We Know It is coming sooner rather than later. While this may be true (and it seems it is with the permiation of social networks) e-mail continues to play a significant role in our lives and in our businesses. With every new web-client I gain I discuss the benefits of having an alias e-mail account. Though it obviously makes use of e-mails, I think it is part of the trend of decreasing their necessity. Perhaps it's something that you too should consider. Do you need an alias?
For ease of use, clients will often prefer to use their personal e-mail accounts. This is not an absurd notion. Why would you want to manage multiple accounts? Why would you want to have a separate e-mail account when your personal e-mails come to you at home, at work and on the phone. It's perfect. There's just one problem.
Using a personal account is terribly unprofessional.
Actual there are several problems, but that's a big one. It's hard to take someone seriously when they say, "Yeah, our company is doing big things. E-mail me if you need anything. It's *@bellsouth.net." I just go ahead and throw away business cards with personal e-mail accounts.
Another problem is that it conflates your personal and professional lives. I understand that we business owners are "always working." However, there is a bigger issue at stake here. My friends can ask personal Daniel things that they can't ask professional Daniel. Personal Daniel can get away with saying things that professional Daniel would never utter to a client. It's hard enough to keep these personas separated. The last thing you need is for them to share an e-mail address.
Parish the thought, but ... your employees might not work for you forever. You might not even stay in your current field forever. When changes occur in the office, the need for change should be limited to your office. You should never have to say to a client, "Don't e-mail this account anymore; send it over here."
In hopes of staying professional, clients will often request the use of an e-mail client like Outlook. There are times when this is the best option for what they are wanting, but I don't feel the pros often outweigh the cons. I guess the main reason that I am wary of this set up is that so much of the onus is put on the client.
You have to know what you're doing to set it up.
Most of the Pop3 or iMap problems occur during the actual set up. The clients themselve will often have to pay an IT professional to properly set up and manage their e-mail accounts. This does not provide the flexibility that an e-mail account should possess.
An e-mail inbox can take up a sizable amount of space on a server, so hosts often encourage their inbox users to delete the e-mails off of the server once they receive them. When this is done, the e-mails will be lost if the client is moved to another computer or if the inbox is migrated. Here again we have unnecessary rigidness.
Best of Both Worlds
I manage 5 different e-mail accounts through my g-mail.
I only have to check one account. I can check it from anywhere. I can send from whichever persona I choose. I don't have to be concerned with server space. I don't have to worry about loosing my e-mails. And the set-up is simple!