When you were in school, you probably learnt how to set out a letter properly, where to position the address of the addressee, to end with ‘yours faithfully’ if you didn’t know the name of the recipient and many other rules to insure your letter gave the best impression possible.
But what about email etiquette? Businesses and individuals can send numerous emails in a single day – to other businesses, to friends, to clients. Do we give enough care and attention to how we greet the recipients of our emails as well as considering other mistakes we may make with email etiquette.
Let me share an example of poor email etiquette with you and how it made me feel as a client.
I recently received some emails during an email correspondence with my bank with started with ‘Lorna’, there was no salutation, no ‘Hello’, no friendly ‘Hi’ and neither was there the more formal ‘Dear’ that many people feel is too formal and awkward within an email communication.
The content of these emails related to a complaint I had made and I was getting the impression that the bank employee was becoming rather irritated with me and the lack of the salutation seemed to emphasise this. I actually felt as though they were trying to put me in my place, that they were being dismissive and abrupt. Initially I felt angry and aggressive, which is not necessarily the best response that you want to gain from a client and then I was annoyed. When it happened again 2 months later, this time it was the bank manager who sent me a quick email reply to a query with a promise that he would look into the matter. Now, while I appreciated that the email may have been sent in a hurry, once again, I felt as though I had been belittled, was a nuisance, had been dismissed. (I did bring it to his attention later in the day).
I do believe that all businesses should apply a particular standard to all their email correspondence and here’s some suggestions:
- Use a salutation. If it is your first email to the person, use ‘Dear name‘. Once you know them, it is fine to use ’Hi name’.
- End your emails with a greeting too , it doesn‘t have to be as formal as ‘yours sincerely‘ or ‘yours faithfully‘ if you know the person‘s name. ‘Kind regards’ is friendly and perfectly acceptable.
- Include a signature with your contact details – this is needed if the person needs to phone you or if they need to look at your website. Your signature will also serve to show your presence on various social networks too such as your blog, face book, linked in and twitter.
- Take the same care with spelling, grammar and punctuation as you would in a letter. If unsure, do use a spell check. Do not use abbreviations within an email.
- Don’t use all upper case or lower case letters. All upper case will look as if you are shouting, all lower case looks juvenile and childish.
- Remember that your tone cannot necessarily be deciphered in an email so ensure that you check the content of the email to ensure that offence or confusion is prevented.
- If you are sending the email to multiple email addresses, use blind carbon copy so that the recipients cannot see the other email addresses. However, do use carbon copy if you are sending the email to another person if they need to be aware of the content of the email so that everyone is aware of same
- Use the subject field to show the content and purpose of the email.
Do you have any other suggestions for proper email etiquette? Have you ever experienced poor email etiquette from a business? Or do you have a different opinion as to what email etiquette should entail?