Email Etiquette (sort of)

There are so many things to remember when you’re running a business that sometimes we forget that it’s the little things that can send the biggest message. For example, email etiquette. While it seems like a small thing, you’d be surprised how many people are turned off by an ill-crafted email.

Let me share an example. I recently moved into a new apartment, and I’m working with my property management company to fix a few thing that need done around the new place. The company has a great brand, a pretty office, and a stellar website, but their email etiquette leaves something to be desired.

Every time I email them with an issue or questions, their response is short (often not even answering the questions I asked), and barely comprehensible. As a client, their lack of email etiquette left me questioning their competency, and I certainly will never recommend them to anyone.

Don’t let this happen to you!

Proof-read – But not in the traditional sense. I’m not saying that you need to pour over every email you write making sure all of your semicolons are in the right place. The occasional spelling or grammatical error is forgivable, but when you’re leaving complete words out of sentences and not making any sense (yes, it does happen), you need to take the time to check your work. Just take a few extra seconds to look over what you’ve written or have someone else take a quick look. The most important question to ask yourself is, “If I was the customer with limited knowledge on this subject, would this email make sense to me?”

Remember to fill in the blanks – I like to say “break it down Barny-style.” Always explain yourself more than you feel you need to. As a customer, I’d much rather have something over-explained to me than be trying to fill in the blanks of vague answers and instructions.

Answer all questions asked – I may be an exceptionally needy customer, but when I ask three questions in an email, I expect a response with three answers. Nothing irritates me more than feeling like the recipient got halfway through my email and decided to quit reading. If you have to, copy and paste the customer’s email into your response. The go through and answer each inquiry right below their question. It’s a simple way to stay organized, and make sure you’re being as helpful as possible.

I know this isn’t your typical checklist of email etiquette, but the point is that great customer service doesn’t just come from your customer service department. It comes from all communication that you have with your clients. Just because email has become more casual over the years doesn’t mean it has to be ineffective.