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If You Advertise an Email – Check It

In Uncategorized on March 13, 2010 at 5:23 pm

In any organization, it is important to maintain a steady stream of communication with your client base. Believe it or not, though, there are some companies that opt not to provide any email support even though they advertise their email addresses in some form (i.e. website posting, business cards, etc.). If that’s you, you are doing yourself and your company a major disservice.

Customers want to be able to email that address you put out there and get questions answered (sometimes critical ones). However, you aren’t checking your emails and your client is lost. Could this have been someone inquiring about your product or service? They most likely went with another provider. Could it be someone who already has one of your products or services and is looking for some post-sale support? Don’t be surprised if they cancel. Ignoring customer communication is a major no-no (if you want to stay in business, that is). You don’t have to be an email expert by any stretch, but a timely reply (even if only to tell the customer you will be following up via phone) is absolutely necessary.

I had an interaction with one particular company who was nearly perfect with face-to-face and phone interactions. I sent them an email, though, and NEVER got a response – even to this day. Needless to say, I moved on. It doesn’t make good business sense whatsoever to post a particular contact method to your site (or elsewhere) when customers cannot really reach you there.

If your emails are becoming too overwhelming or you just don’t have the time (or want to) check them, I would advise you work with an email expert. They should most likely be able to help you come up with a more manageable plan for handling your own emails or handle them for you. The only other alternative is to stop advertising your email, but that will set you way back in times. Many customers appreciate being able to communicate electronically, and if you disable that capability, you may see some of your client base go bye-bye.

Email Etiquette: Using High Priority

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2010 at 4:36 pm

We all think that our message is important to the world. That sense of entitlement has fostered in our brains and we can’t seem to let it go. The reality of it is, though, that the message we so desperately want to send and have everyone read is not as important as we think it is. As a matter of fact, to many people, it may not be important at all. Since importance is so very subjective, how do you decide which emails should be sent with that “High Importance” flag?

Here are a few tips to help:

DO¬†send an email high priority when…

  1. The matter is life-threatening.
  2. The matter will cause a company or individual to lose great sums of money.
  3. The matter could turn into some sort of legal dispute (i.e. lawsuit, conviction, etc.).
  4. You have sent SEVERAL (subjective) other emails to no avail on a very important (once again, subjective) issue.

DON’T send an email high priority when…

  1. You just want a quick response on a situation with no detrminental impact.
  2. You’re including many people on the email (this can confuse people and have many people taking the same “important” action).
  3. You’re forwarding a mesage that does not require any action on part of the recipient.
  4. You are sending your first email on a somewhat important (subjective) issue.

Like anything else related to emails or any other forms of communication, there are no hard and fast rules that apply to each and ever situation. It is up to you to use your best judgement. Also, as stated above, there are many situations that are more open to individual interpretation. In these cases, it may be better to overdo it than to underdo (is that a word?) it.

So, the next time you’re sending an email and decide to check that “high priority” button, keep in mind that you may be breaking all the rules of email etiquette if your flag is out of line.

5 Tips for Handling Your Own Emails

In Uncategorized on February 19, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Many people / businesses do it everyday. What is “it” you ask? Sending and receiving emails. However, how many people know how to word their emails in such a way that tone doesn’t get lost in translation and the recipient gets as clear a message as possible? Not very many people are aware of the simple email tips that can either make or break the effectiveness of your organization’s electronic communication.

Additionally, many people get lost in their emails and more often than not don’t have time to respond to each and every one that came in during business hours. Of course these business owners / executives know that they owe their clients a timely response, but other professional commitments or maybe even the desire to get to that evening happy hour can get in the way of that. We’re all human. It happens to the best of us, but if you behave in such a way, be prepared for client escalations.

To avoid such situations, you can keep the following rules in mind:

1. Try to respond to every email within 3 hours. Of course, this may not always be possible, but this should be your goal – especially in the case of emails sent during your regular business hours. Customers are aware that they may not get an instantaneous response when sending an email, but that shouldn’t be taken for granted as some clients may feel that the message they have sent should be at the top of your list – and they’re not out of line for feeling that way – after all -they are paying you.

2. If there will be significant delay to responding emails and you are aware of this, set an autoresponder so that the customer is aware that you have meetings all day, are in and out of the office, etc. You won’t believe how much face this will save in the long run. The client will know to expect a delay and won’t necessarily be sitting in front of the PC (or MAC) anxiously awaiting your response.

3. Check “High-Priority” emails first. Let’s hope that your clients (or even fellow employees) know the rules for sending high importance emails. If they do, they are sending the message to you that way for a reason. Putting their issue ahead of the crowd can definitely help save you from encountering (and coaching a customer through) a potential disaster.

4. As a general rule of thumb, if your email response will be longer than around 250 words, it may be best to follow up with the client via phone call and send an email summary to recap the key points of what was discussed. Email was originally intended to be a quick method of communication. Don’t be counterproductive here. There are, of course, exceptions to this “rule” – i.e. if the client has asked for email communication only, if the client is expecting the email, etc.

5. If you are worked up in any way before you send an email, save it as a draft, step away from your PC (or MAC) for around 5 minutes or so to cool down before coming back to review the email and send. Your attitude can come across in email for sure. The last thing you want to do is send a furious email to your client and heighten the tension between you two (or more). Usually after taking a brief break, you are better able to focus and control any anger than may come through your email.

About the author: Elise Connors is an Associate Account Manager for a top internet firm. She enjoys helping people start their own online businesses and maintain effective communication between themselves and their client base.