There’s a proverb that proclaims, “The fastest horse cannot catch a misplaced word.”
And while this may hold truer than many of us would like to admit in our face-to-face, phone and text message conversations, it appears that when it comes to email, technology has outrun horses once again – Google can, in fact, catch your misplaced email.
You never know when it might strike – when it might happen to you. Somehow, it was only recently that I first made the blunder myself. That’s right – I sent an email to the wrong person. Hitting “send” was a point of no return.
Fortunately, the recipient called me within seconds (before I even had a chance to look up his number to call him), which helped dispel some of the awkwardness. Thankfully, none of the information within the email was confidential. He understood that I had accidentally sent it to him instead of someone else with the same first name, and we laughed about it and moved on.
I’m always very conscientious, so this experience was jarring. What if I had accidentally sent something sensitive? What if I had made something internal become external? What if I hadn’t been so lucky?
Brands struggle with these questions on a much larger scale. What if a sensitive communication among leadership were accidentally shared with the entire company? What if confidential plans were prematurely unveiled to the public? What if trade secrets are accidentally sent to “Joe Coffman,” an investigative journalist, rather than “Joe Kauffman,” a trusted member of the staff? Once it’s out there, there’s no going back.
Enter Google. Their new “Undo Send” feature on Gmail allows users to send lightning fast, digital horses to catch that misplaced email. It enables you to cancel a sent piece of email if you have any second thoughts immediately after sending.
Currently, this feature is only available on the Web-based version of Gmail, and it can be opted into by visiting the “general” tab in settings, where you can set how much time you’d like to allow yourself to “Undo Send” (between 10-30 seconds). Half a minute may not be very long, but when you’ve just sent an email in error, it can seem like a lifetime.
For brands that don’t use Gmail, here are a few tips for encouraging team members to ensure email doesn’t get into the wrong inboxes:
- Create distribution lists. Creating distribution lists for groups of people you often reach out to as a unit can be a great way for (1) making emailing more efficient and (2) minimizing the likelihood that an outsider is accidentally included.
- Develop contact cards for everyone. If you have v-cards on file for everyone you interact with regularly, their information should auto-populate when you start to type it in. You can also go and quickly double check that the selected recipient is, in fact, the intended recipient.
- Review auto-fill options regularly. Often, addresses you’ve emailed before will auto-populate in your “to” field. Make a habit of deleting these or officially adding those contacts to your address book if you anticipate needing their info again.
- Plan for the worst (and hope for the best).
By, Kate Cunningham, Account Executive