Here I go again. Today I will blog about e-mail etiquette. Not only our e-mail address needs to remain strictly professional, so do our e-mail messages, naturally.
The new trend is for companies to implement an e-policy (policy of how an employee, independent contractor, or even freelancer must behave online). The e-mail policy, in particular, not only gives the company a competitive edge, it also helps reduce liability:
''E-mail is the highest ranked application for data protection requirements, business e-mail will grow by 25-30% annually through 2009, and federal regulations and laws now dictate retention, storage, and retrieval policies of e-mail – with quantifiable penalties for non-compliance.E-mail is considered a written business record that can be subpoenaed and used as evidence in litigation or regulatory investigations."
Spring 2008, Page 36
A company's e-mail policy should be clear and concise, but it can be simple. You can create a brief document that includes the specific do’s and don’ts and defines approved and banned content. If your brokerage firm does not provide you with an e-policy, make your own and distribute it amongst your employees, assistant or virtual assistant, whatever the case may be. In any case, be sure that whoever is communicating with your clients and vendors and/or representing you or your firm, is very clear with what your definition of appropriate is for e-mail communication. This, of course, applies to all online and mobile media.
For your guidance, here are some tips that can help you draft your "e-code of conduct":
- Never Underestimate Short, Simple and Sweet! Go straight to the point . Be brief and concise in your statements, but avoid acronyms and abbreviations to avoid confusion. Always run a spell-check and proofread for punctuation and grammar errors. Using bullet points will allow the reader to know in 10 seconds what your message is about. Personally address each message and customize the content.
- How personal is too personal? This is tricky because we have different levels of formality with different people. I would say a real estate assistant should always include a formal, but cordial salutation and closing on client correspondence, along with their full name. In any event, reply to your initial e-mail, you will be able to see their preferred for of address by the way they signed their reply to you. When it comes to personal matters, I believe you can "listen" to any statements, as long as you don't share personal information (such as family or marital issues) with your clients. Stay away from emoticons (smiley faces and such).
- While on the Subject... A meaningful subject will increase the odds of your message getting read sooner than later. If dealing with multiple deals or issues with the same client, label each message accordingly and be as descriptive as possible. A clear subject line will also make your message easier to find on a search.
- Knock, Knock! Anyone home? Answer all questions within 24 hours, preferably within the same working day and avoid considerable frustration. Your customer will be grateful and impressed with your efficient and thoughtful customer service. If you send an E-mail, keep in mind that electronic mail does not require immediate response, like telephone: it is not an interactive conversation. Don’t assume the receiver will read your message immediately. E-mail is not designed for immediacy, it’s designed for convenience. So if you need an immediate answer, pick up the phone and get it.
- Looks matter... Using short paragraphs with separating lines allows for better readability. If you structure your e-mail messages properly, the message is conveyed more effectively. Use standard fonts and avoid complicated formatting.
- Size also matters... CAPS (uppercase text) reflect shouting emphasis, on the other hand, if you write all in small case, your reader will perceive you as lacking education or being lazy. Please and thank you. When replying inline, use a different font color.
- Hanging on a Thread. Don't send out 20 single replies about the same issue. Instead, keep the thread and be sure to discuss one topic and one alone per thread. Remove all tag marks ( > ) when you reply or forward a message. If replying inline, answer all questions with a different font color or format (italics, bold).
- Infectious Contents. Always scan incoming and outgoing content and be sure your anti-virus, adware and spyware programs are up to date.
- Make me feel special. If you are sending the same content to multiple recipients, use the BCC (blind carbon copy), at the same time, you won't be making the mistake of publicizing someone else’s e-mail address without their permission.
- The Magic Words. Say please and thank you. A lot. Your message is tone-less and can be misunderstood. If you add please and thank you to all your requests, you will be avoiding flames (e-anger). Be sure to ignore
any flames that come through and reply in a calm courteous manner at all times.
- Don't be too forward! Treat e-mail messages confidentially and do not forward without the author's permission. It may be considered a breach of trust by the original sender or even copyright infringement in some cases.
- Sense and Sensibility. Avoid including confidential, sensitive information and ignore any messages containing sexual, religious, political or racial connotations.
In summary, always write e-communication from your company's e-mail address as though it was on your business letterhead. Even personal e-mails sent from the office are being regarded as official company communication.
If we use E-mai effectively, it can become a powerful branding and marketing tool. Train yourself and your staff to communicate with professionalism and it will promote team efficiency and productivity, as well as safeguard your company from liability.
Other tips to consider are:
Make sure every customer or prospect e-mail address is entered in your database.
Never delete sent items. Keep them for reference.
Save a tree and a stamp. Don't print your e-mails and avoid snail mail if not necessary.
Add a disclaimer to your e-mail signature to help protect your company from liability.
Enter the e-mail address last so your message is not accidentally sent under construction.
If you realize that communication by e-mail is not effective or resolving the problem or you believe it to create confusion, communicate by telephone! E-mail is a communication tool, not a substitute for telephone or face-to-face communication.
Have a professional create a branded signature that includes your name, job title, contact information, your logo, a short slogan, tag-line or inspirational message, as well as links to your E-mail, website, blog, directions, etc.
Hope you found this information helpful! I look forward to your comments and questions!
Hope you enjoyed my post. Have a powerful day!
This article is intended to educate and it constitutes the sole intellectual property of Elayna Fernandez and Designed 2 Impress. Any full or partial reproduction or duplication without the author's express written consent is strictly prohibited and will be considered copyright infringement.
About the Author:
Elayna Fernandez is a marketing consultant in the Naples FL, Estero FL, Bonita Springs FL and Marco Island, FL area. Her company, Designed 2 Impress, is dedicated to assisting individuals and small businesses in Naples FL, Estero FL, Bonita Springs FL and Marco Island, FL in creating successful and consistent brand and achieve their marketing goals.
For more information, please contact Elayna Fernandez or call 239-465-7868.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post!