The following are a few fundamental mandatory guidelines to communicating by email here at Inorbital. Clear effective emails are essential to make it easier for recipients to fully understand your message the first time. We all receive mounds of emails (our clients get even more) so ensuring your email is clear and easy to understand is fundamental to getting the response back you want.
Email should be used for quick and clear communication. If you have an issue or a problem, pick the phone and speak to the person involved directly.
Always use the subject line.
Detailed subject lines are encouraged and can be amended if the message is changing topic. NEVER leave the subject line blank. Be sure the Subject: field accurately reflects the content of your email. If the topic changes then create a new email thread.
Always include a greeting when emailing our clients. Whether it's "Hi Bob" or "Dear Mr. Customer," a salutation is a friendly and proper way to begin an email.
Keep the message short, sweet and to the point
Always quickly proofread, concentrating on making the message as concise and clear as possible.
Bullet points are encouraged and easy to track and respond to. Numbered lists are essential for a list of questions. When responding to questions please number the responses even if they weren’t originally numbered. Consider colour coding your comments when replying to an existing thread – again much easier to follow and answer when you know what the question is.
Use screen shots wherever possible to better describe an issue or solution. Often a picture of what is being discussed is easier and clearer. I like the Windows 7 Snipping Tool for quick and easy screen grabs.
Clients send an e-mail because they wish to receive a quick response. If they did not want a quick response they would send a letter, or worse, a fax. Therefore, each e-mail should be replied to within at least 24 hours and preferably within the same business day. If the email is lengthy or complicated, just send an email back saying that you have received it and that you will get back to them. This will put the client's mind at rest and usually clients will then be very patient! Just because someone doesn't ask for a response doesn't mean you ignore them. Always acknowledge emails from those you know in a timely manner.
Answer all questions, and pre-empt further questions.
An email reply must answer all questions, and pre-empt further questions. If you do not answer all the questions in the original email, you will receive further e-mails regarding the unanswered questions, which will not only waste your time and your clients’ time but also cause considerable frustration. Moreover, if you are able to pre-empt relevant questions, your customer will be grateful and impressed with your efficient and thoughtful customer service. Clients will definitely appreciate this thinking through of your answers.
Use templates for frequently used responses.
I create an Outlook signature for common responses and then select appropriate signature if it’s a typical response. It works well even as a starting point for more detailed responses.
Track all your messages Use Outlook flagging tool to track any outstanding emails. It’s a super effective method to make sure you DON’T miss anything. Missing emails and not responding to messages is a definite shortcut to losing clients.
About the Author
Tony Tullio is a veteran in the interactive business and Director/Founder at Inorbital and always looking for great web apps and useful websites. Let us know what you think about this topic by commenting or rating or connect with him via Twitter LinkedIn