From a UX point of view, when writing to a company email, should the company return a courtesy email (we have received your email), or not?

Email responses are also feedback, and as such, I'm guessing that companies that do respond have happier users, but are there studies? What should the return mail contain?

An example: Writing an email to an organization and they mail back that 'they have forwarded the email to the (incorrect) department'. A user can now choose to take action to get the email to the correct department, or wait until there comes a return mail. But at least he/she knows the email has been received.

Another example: I wrote an email to team@stackexchange and didn't receive any courtesy mail, however, about a week later I got an email with an answer.

1 Answer 1


I can't point you to any studies on this, but I can speak about being part of a leading email service provider and what I learnt there.

Basically, yes, courtesy emails are generally useful. They provide initial feedback, they can be used to provide context for a followup (e.g., you'll get a detailed answer within 48 hours), and they tend to minimize phone calls from users/customers asking, "I sent an email - did you get it?" I'd also add that when our reps were advising customers on how to set up email services and campaigns, the courtesy response was typically recommended.

Mind you, it's not always essential. If you will be sending a detailed response within a couple of hours then it's not always necessary. The other huge exception is when the email was sent via a web form - often our customers would simply repost the page with a "Your email was received - you'll hear from us in XX minutes".

There are no hard and fast rules in this - it's more about you knowing who your users are.

  • 3
    I definitely agree that if feedback can be given another way (like the webform example) it's a lot better. People don't need extra emails, but if they sent an email personally they'll probably appreciate the response.
    – Ben Brocka
    Sep 27, 2011 at 14:47

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