What does your E-mail say about you? – 13 Customer Service Tips


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The amount of business e-mail we can get on a daily basis can sometimes be overwhelming; however, used properly, e-mail can be a very effective way to communicate with colleagues and clients. Even though the tendency may be to be more casual, it is advisable that business e-mail have an element of formality to it, and follow certain protocol. Listed below are my 13 e-mail best-practice service tips that, if followed, can provide your clients and colleagues the best experience possible, and help you brand your experience.

Identify yourself, your company and your department in the signature line: Set up your standard signature to follow the guidelines of your firm; and make it easy for people to find your contact information. At minimum, include your first and last name, company name, department, phone number, fax number, and web address. Very often you may want to include your corporate title and business address as well.

Use spell-check: Eliminate the risk of sending e-mails with misspelled words. Outlookand many other e-mail programs can be set up to scan your messages automatically before being sent.

Don’t copy the world: Some people copy everyone or ‘reply all’. If you have something to say to one person, say it directly to that person and spare the rest.

Let people sending you an e-mail know if you’re not in the office: Use the ‘out of office’ tool on e-mail and let the recipient of your ‘out of office’ message know when you’ll be returning. Let people know if you are going to check e-mail messages while you’re out, and if yes, how often. Let them know as well who to contact in case their matter is urgent.

Don’t send negative messages through e-mail: Words in the written format may often be misunderstood. In addition, e-mail is a written document and as such, may be forwarded. If you have a negative message to deliver, speak to the individual in person, or on the phone. We’ve all heard the stories of people who found out their job was being eliminated via e-mail. Not good. Although this is an extreme case, even messages that may be perceived as being mildly negative can be blown out of proportion when seen in written format.

When you receive a negative e-mail message, give them the benefit of the doubt: If you receive a negative e-mail message, pick up the phone, rather than retort in kind. You’ll surprise the person who sent the e-mail, straighten out any misconceptions, and often will move to agreement.

Pick up the phone: If e-mail goes back and forth more than two rounds, pick up the phone to clarify the issue. Some messages are more complicated and may be better communicated via the phone.

Send positive messages through e-mail: Thanking someone or congratulating someone for a job well done is a great use of e-mail. Copy the individual’s boss, so the employee receives accolades there as well. You will build better relationships as a result.

Follow-through: When people request information, respond back and do so within the requested time-frame. They’ll be more likely to use your e-mail in the future if they realize you are responsive when they do leave a request.

Use the subject line: Because people receive so many messages, use the subject-line, and make it specific so the recipient is able to find the e-mail later. Include the words ‘Action Required’ in the subject-line if applicable, and include only one topic per e-mail. It’s fine to send one e-mail with a summary of the meeting in which you discussed 4 agenda items; but don’t send one e-mail with the summary of four meetings.

Use bullet points: Breaking up longer messages with bullets or numbers makes e-mail messages more aesthetically pleasing and easier to digest. It also makes the required follow-up action items easier to understand and track.

Be brief: Include only the information that is necessary in your e-mails, don’t include your opinion or bias, and stick to the relevant information. Today, many people are reading e-mail on their blackberry or other hand held device. Show pity.

Be professional: Your e-mail message is an extension of you, and that of the firm you work. Avoid slang, casual language and cutesy pictures.

Following these simple best-practices for your e-mail messages can lead to great service experiences on behalf of those who receive your e-mail, and improve your firm’s and your personal service brand as well.


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