One of the most overlooked features in Microsoft Outlook is its ability to flag emails. If you look to the right side of your incoming emails, you will notice that there is a blank flag on the right. By toggling that flag, you can cause it to appear in red or a variety of other colors. This is incredibly powerful given the large volume of emails that we receive.
Of course, everyone has to deal with this same problem. Fifty or more emails come in on any given day. Sometimes you have the opportunity to deal with them directly. More often, you are in the middle of other things and can simply note the email. How do you know which emails have been handled and which emails have not?
By flagging emails as they come in, you can identify those which need follow-up work or response. This allows you to briefly read an incoming email, flag it, and know that you have to come back to it later. For those who are even more organized, you can develop a system for flag color. Red flag color may mean a general follow-up needs to occur. A purple flag can mean that the follow-up is a priority item. A yellow flag can mean a follow-up phone call is necessary.
Note that all out going emails can be flagged before they are sent as well.
I doubt that there is anyone out there who has not had an email slip through the cracks. If you and your firm do not develop an email policy which precludes incoming email communications from getting lost in the shuffle, you may be setting yourself up for complaints of poor customer service or worse. For those firms that are using Microsoft Outlook, they should develop policies and training for their personnel, many of whom are probably oblivious to the powerful potential of email flagging.