Mailbutler gives you an expert roundup of how to best use artificial intelligence in business email.
5 min read
Discover the role of AI in future email communication, its impact on productivity, and the importance of balancing AI with human interaction.
James has seven years' experience as a Content Marketer, bylines on Left Foot Forward, Submittable, and INOMICS, and a Master's in History. In his free time he likes to read, play guitar, and write for his personal blog.
Artificial intelligence used in email communication is nothing new. Remember the first time suggestions popped up in your Gmail while you were typing and how you marveled at their eerie accuracy? Yes, that was AI. AI-powered predictive text, AKA autocomplete, has existed for years, predicting what you're about to say before you know what you want to say.
But this all seems rather primitive now compared to ChatGPT's incredible ability to generate entire email responses from just a few keywords. It takes a few seconds for the popular AI chatbot to type out all those tricky emails you were avoiding writing, from payment reminders to client apologies to polite invitation refusals. All it takes is the right prompts.
And AI email tools like Mailbutler go a step further, providing you with a personal, generative AI assistant directly in your inbox that can do everything for you. From filtering out the noise to crafting smart replies and even complete messages from only a rough draft, AI tools for email can help you stay on top of your inbox without breaking a sweat.
So, what does this mean for the future of email communication?
While all this sounds great on paper, there are still some questions to answer. If technology can accomplish all that, what part will humans have in email communication? Is professional email correspondence bound to end up being one AI assistant to another?
And more importantly, will the fact that AI might start writing our emails to our coworkers, friends, and loved ones also rob us of something more valuable? Will machines take away our unique mode of expression and the delight of interpersonal interaction?
Since the public use of generative AI is relatively new, we can’t provide exact answers to these questions for now. But many professionals are more than happy to get some help from a digital assistant. Email communication has been a source of anxiety for the modern professional for the last thirty years, so anything that reduces that workload is welcome.
According to the latest email statistics, the average professional gets around 121 messages daily and spends around 4.1 hours of their workday reading, writing, and managing emails. This inbox overload often leads to stress, distraction, and burnout.
Still, email remains the primary method of communication for businesses and professionals. It's stuck around for a long time, and it isn't going anywhere. But what will definitely change after the introduction of generative AI is how we handle email.
The role of humans in email communication in the future may look something like us being the CEOs of our inboxes and letting our AI assistants handle the grunt work. For instance, you can assign straightforward and repetitive email tasks to AI, leaving you more time and brainpower to focus on the more important stuff.
AI can also help us avoid some of the drudgery associated with daily email correspondence. Email, as we know it, is a creativity killer. After typing out hundreds if not thousands, of emails over the course of our professional lives, most of us have grown tired of formulaic etiquette and courtesy replies.
“Hope this email finds you well. Kind regards. I look forward to hearing from you.” Most emails we send have always sounded a tad robotic, so it makes sense to use actual robots for help, right?
Now, let's take a closer look at how artificial intelligence can enhance email communication with a real-world example - Mailbutler's Smart Assistant.
Mailbutler's Smart Assistant uses AI to understand the context and content of your emails. The result is a set of features that can help you manage your emails more efficiently and effectively.
These include composing emails based on short input keywords, generating responses, summarizing long messages, creating to-dos from emails, and finding contact information. Let's check out these features in detail.
Smart Compose: This feature composes emails quickly and effectively for you. Provide a short keyword input, and the Smart Assistant can generate suggestions for whole emails. The assistant can also adjust the email's length based on user preference.
Smart Respond: The Smart Respond feature suggests responses based on the content of the message and your writing style. This way, you can respond to emails faster and with less stress.
Smart Summarize: Reading long emails is about to become a thing of the past. Instead of having to read all the niceties and stock phrases to get to the core message, you can use the Smart Summarize feature to condense an email into its key points.
With this feature, you can quickly understand the essence of an email without reading it in its entirety and decide whether a follow-up or other further action is required. Users can also convert these summaries into Mailbutler Notes to keep track of important information.
Smart Improve: This sub-feature can proofread your emails and suggest improvements. The Smart Improve feature scans your email drafts and provides suggestions for enhancing your spelling and grammar. With Mailbutler, you can also save this revised email copy as email message templates.
Task Finder: The Smart Assistant can scan a message to suggest tasks and actions that need to be undertaken. After that, you can save the task directly to Mailbutler's Tasks.
Contact Finder: The Contact Finder uses AI to extract all relevant contact information from emails, making it easier for you to keep track of your contacts. You can then save this information to the Mailbutler Contacts feature where you can edit it in the future.
While tools like Mailbutler's Smart Assistant bring numerous benefits, there are potential negative aspects of relying too heavily on AI in email communication. Be mindful of the following risks to maintain effective and meaningful correspondence:
Loss of personal touch: Over-reliance on AI can lead to a lack of a personal touch, making emails feel impersonal. Building a strong relationship can be challenging without the emotional connection that human interaction provides.
Over-automation of responses: AI-powered auto-responses can be efficient, but also too generic or inappropriate. Remember, generative AI doesn't understand the meaning behind the words - it's only able to predict the next one. So, in some cases, it is possible to generate inaccurate replies.
Additionally, the rise of automated AI emails may increase productivity for the sender but decrease it for receivers who become flooded with messages that are longer than necessary.
Inability to convey emotions effectively: AI algorithms may struggle to accurately interpret and convey emotions. Nuances such as sarcasm, humor, or empathy can be challenging for AI to comprehend, which could lead to misunderstandings.
Miscommunication and misinterpretation: Without the ability to understand the meaning behind the words fully, AI may misinterpret messages, leading to miscommunication. To prevent this, you can try to clarify the ambiguous parts of an email to ensure the AI produces effective and accurate responses.
Lack of context awareness: AI lacks the ability to understand the broader context surrounding a conversation, including the cultural, social, or personal aspects that may impact communication. Humans are crucial to bridge this gap, ensuring deeper understanding between the sender and receiver.
Dependency on AI and reduced human skill development: As people become accustomed to automated solutions, over-reliance on AI can diminish our communication skills. This dependency may hinder the development of critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving abilities.
To ensure effective and meaningful email communication, it is crucial to strike the right balance between AI and human interaction. Here are some strategies to consider:
Ensure that AI complements, rather than replaces, human communication: AI should be seen as a tool to enhance productivity and support human effort, rather than as a substitute for human interaction. By recognizing the strengths of both AI and humans, organizations can optimize their email communication.
Encourage collaboration between AI and humans: Foster an environment where humans and AI work collaboratively. Humans can provide guidance, review AI-generated responses, and add the necessary personal touch to emails, while AI can assist with managing the influx of messages and taking care of repetitive tasks.
Continuously adapt to new AI features and capabilities: As AI technology continues evolving, it will bring new features and capabilities that we will need to understand and adapt to. This is a learning curve not just for individuals, but for organizations too. Experimenting with and carefully evaluating new AI features will ensure that AI remains a helpful and valuable asset to an organization.
Whether you like it or not, the statistics and trends show that AI is changing the world as we know it. This includes how we work and how we handle email. Using AI tools for email creation and management, we can save valuable time, improve quality, and increase efficiency in our professional correspondence.
However, AI shouldn’t be a substitute for human interaction. It's best to think of it as something that can complement it and enhance our productivity and creativity by freeing us of some of the menial tasks surrounding email.
Remember, having blind faith in this new technology is just as harmful as not trusting its efficacy and stubbornly refusing to use it. Organizations must keep in step with the times and implement AI tools that increase productivity while being ready to mitigate the potentially negative impacts.
To ensure a symbiotic relationship, organizations should strike a balance between AI and human input. For instance, AI could be used to handle tasks requiring speed and data analysis like producing stock replies and email summaries. On the other hand, humans should handle tasks that require empathy, creativity, and complex decision-making.
And finally, every output by AI should be double-checked and, if necessary, refined by a human since generative AI systems can occasionally make up facts or offer false information.
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