Art of E-Communication
Transcription Customer Care: Laura Budler
the way we communicate via email is of extreme importance,
As a global online business, by far most of our communication with clients occurs via email. We may email an existing client in Australia in the morning, email Letters of Introduction to businesses in the United Kingdom and South Africa throughout the day, and send out quotes to potential clients in the United States and Canada in the evening (remember – we must be time zone sensitive with our emails!).
Also, I might receive an instructional email from my MD, email a leave form to my HR Manager, or request a calculation in a foreign currency from my Financial Manager. And I must confess I also often email my colleague sitting in the same office rather than turn and ask a question in the old-fashioned way: word-of-mouth!
Needless to say, the way we communicate via email is of extreme importance, both in-house as well as with clients. What’s important: Clarity? Understandability? Precision? Persuasiveness? Presentation? All of these and more!
Here is an A – Z list of helpful email pointers, both for within companies and when emailing clients:
A. Include FYI or FYA so recipient knows what is expected.
B. Indicate whether you have (or have not) or intend to respond to client.
C. Be careful when selecting email address (avoid sending to clients what is meant to go to a colleague).
D. Send personal emails from your personal account only – not your company email account.
E. Remember that correspondence is the property of the company you work for. Anything you have ever sent or received – even if deleted – could potentially be retrieved from the system by a database administrator.
F. Use ‘high importance’ carefully. If over-used, its true importance is minimised.
G. Avoid duplicate message sending (look to see who has already received email).
H. Use “we” rather than I, when possible. “We” are speaking on behalf of the company.
I. Be certain your email signature is the most up-to-date version.
J. Include links to social media.
K. Be professional yet conversational.
L. Be very, very careful when forwarding (scroll down and double check what is below) so as not to forward what should not be forwarded!
M. Reply timely, quickly. If you know it will be an extended time before you can reply thoroughly, reply to sender with quick confirmation that email is received and that you’ll address issue as soon as you can and will be back in touch.
N. If sending an attachment, make note of it and briefly describe the attachment in body of the email.
O. TRIPLE check all spelling/grammar/punctuation! Set emails to spell check automatically: File/Options/Mail/Always check spelling before sending.
P. TRIPLE check spelling of names and any calculations.
Q. Follow the client’s lead with spelling of name – use the client’s name as they refer to themselves.
R. Be as clear and concise as possible.
S. Avoid ALL CAPS – it looks as if you are yelling.
T. Avoid overusing punctuation marks!!!!!!!!!
U. Avoid anything unfriendly or unprofessional as there is always the chance of someone other than the intended recipient reading it.
V. Always try to start with recipient’s name to personalise every email.
W. Whenever possible, thank the client for something.
X. Keep tone and wording positive to make client feel good.
Y. Avoid starting with “We apologise” or “Apologies for…..”
Z. Be mindful about sending to a variety of contacts in the company at once.
And here are 4 more tips that can help business email correspondence be more productive, clear and get timely responses to queries.
1. Avoid wordiness
KISS–Keep it Simple Stupid. Consumption of email happens on a large scale. It’s not uncommon for many to browse over 250 messages in one day, especially since email is also being read on mobile devices with small screens and high cost-per-byte usage.
The use of excessive words to convey a message means your core point or focus will be diluted. Keep your email clear of unnecessary words that clutter. Rather, quickly command the reader’s attention and be concise.
2. Be clear and logical and at all times professional
To make sense, emails must be logical and clear. Various elements of a sentence must agree and make sense to your audience. Many words in the English language lack specific meanings and some have double meanings. Understand exactly the point you want to get across using the right terminology in a logical and clear way.
If emails are not logical or clear, subsequent contact or communication costs time (and sometimes money) to clarify, or you may end up with some seriously embarrassing results. Avoid colloquial terms with external clients you don’t know – especially when emailing across foreign countries.
3. Holy Long Sentence Batman!
Use small, to-the-point sentences as short sentences will make sure your words are concise, will avoid repetition and will decrease the temptation to rant or digress away from the topic. It might seem a little robotic in nature but short sentences will produce more desirable results.
If you need to send any attachments, make sure they are relevant and the main points are pulled out of the attachment and put in the main body of the email. Many recipients of emails are lazy and won’t open your attachments if you write in an email an introduction like “here it is”.
Pull out the main points or data from an attachment and give reason or action points for readers to view and add feedback to any attachment email. If no action points are indicated, in most cases none will be forthcoming.