Do you think email is the most important form of communication of the 21st century?
Do you think that well-crafted emails are part of your organization’s brand? Well, if it’s not on your list as the most utilized form of communication, you might be doing something wrong. And let me tell you, if you want to run a top-level, competitive, and efficient organization in the 21st-century workspace, you better know the rules of email! The consequences can be crucial to your organization and culture’s success.
Let’s discuss what can go wrong with email. Let me count the ways…
A constant topic of discussion about communication in the 21st Century is that… we are having fewer face-to-face meetings (and that’s a whole other blog). We no longer just pick up the phone when we have a question. Instead we go straight to email or text. And as the world of technology helps us become faster and more competitive, email has become the main source of communication on a universal platform.
Problem is, there isn’t a holistic approach where we all learn email etiquette and can communicate efficiently on a UNIVERSAL PLATFORM. Even when adult learning classes are offered teaching email standards, they differ from each other. What a drag! And if email communication is the primary way we ‘talk’, we better get it right!
In the out-of-school time field, we are often working with frontline staff who will climb out of the field and into our offices.
These are often our best staff, who have little or no formal education pertaining to office etiquette (I was one of these people). Now, when I consult for small businesses, one of the first items I discuss with the CEO, Exec Director, or President is branding. I ask, “Where do you see branding as a representation of your organization or company?” If they don’t mention email, I say, “Well, we have work to do.
Your organization’s brand is in everything and email is a major part of it. Here’s why…” As discussed earlier, if email is the sole source of communication for your organization, your brand lives there. If your brand isn’t clear, and if your brand isn’t consistent, you’ve got a problem (and that’s another blog as well).
Below are 8 email tips (from a list of 35) that I have evolved and delivered to businesses, organizations, with mentees, and frontline staff while consulting. Sometimes, I even enjoy starting a business/staff meeting focusing on the value of email/company branding and effective communication.
8 Most Important Email Etiquette Tips
1. Be brief and to the point.
Do not make an email longer than it needs to be. Email is meant to be a quick medium. Remember that reading an email is harder than reading conventional printed communications. An overlong email can be very discouraging to read. Stakeholders, clients, parents just won’t read it if there’s too much text.
2. Answer all questions, and pre empt further questions.
If you do not answer all the questions in the original email, you will most likely receive further emails regarding the unanswered issues — which will not only waste your and your customer’s time, but also cause considerable frustration. Moreover, if you’re able to preempt relevant questions, your client will be grateful and impressed with your efficient and thoughtful service. Imagine for instance that a client sends you an email asking how to find the address of your location. Instead of just sending a link, add the address, phone and the link for more information. They will definitely appreciate this.
3. Use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
This is important because improper spelling, grammar, and punctuation give a poor impression of your company. It is also important for conveying the message clearly. Emails with no full periods or commas are difficult to read and can sometimes even alter the meaning of the text. And, if your program has a spell- checking option, why not use it?
4. Make it personal.
Not only should the email be personally addressed, it should also include customized content. For this reason auto replies are usually not very effective. However, templates can often be used effectively in this way. See next tip.
5. Answer swiftly. (Again)
Your stakeholders send an email because they want to receive a quick response. If not, they would send a letter or a fax. Therefore, each email should answered within at least 24 hours, and preferably within the same working day. If the email is going to be complicated, just shoot a quick reply back to the sender saying that you have received their email and that you’ll get back to them asap. This will put the stakeholder’s’ mind at ease — and usually they will then be very patient!
6. Respond with a ‘thank you’ or ‘got it.’
This helps strengthen communication when you respond and helps colleagues, supervisors, and directors know you have received their information or action items.
7. Use a meaningful subject line.
Create a subject that is meaningful to the recipient as well as yourself. For instance, when you send an email to a company requesting information about a product, it is better to mention the actual name of the product (e.g., ‘Product A information’) than to just say ‘Product information.’ And mention the company’s name in the subject. Also, ask for a response in the subject line if you need one. For example: ‘Event Details — Response requested’.
8. Keep your language gender-neutral.
In this day and age, avoid using gender pronouns, as in: “The user should add a signature by configuring his email program.” Apart from using he/she, you can also use an impersonal construction: ”The user should add a signature by configuring the email program.”
For breakfast, I am still drinking a veggie and fruit shake every morning, but now I have added chia and flax seeds thanks to my awesome wellness coach!
Author Profile: @juliagabor