A recent study showed that many top companies aren’t responding quickly to e-mail inquiries. Whether it’s because they are not equipped to handle the volume of inquiries or they just don’t consider it a priority, these companies (and yours) should heed this wakeup call. Answering messages quickly and accurately can go a long way toward attracting and keeping customers. Several software firms now offer products that respond to incoming e-mail using a form of artificial intelligence to analyze the meaning of text messages, enabling companies to respond quickly to large volumes of e-mail. Includes a box on the costs and benefits of automated e-mail response software and a brief case study of Egghead.com, an Internet retailer that has drastically improved its e-mail response time as a result of using the software.