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Most jobs today require you to spend some – or much – of your day on email. Whether it’s replying to customer concerns, recruiting new business, or working out the details of a sale with a colleague, emails are hugely important to how we do business. Email helps us to facilitate all sorts of important contact with both customers and colleagues, but poor practice can cost your organization business in the same way poor face-to-face or phone customer service can.

A company’s ability to answer emails professionally and in a timely fashion directly influences the customer’s service experience. According to Ameyo, 57% of customers would choose email or social media-based support over speaking to someone on the phone or in person. This means that poor email practice could turn over half of your customers away from your business and towards a competitor.

The good news? Improving the way your team sends and receives both internal and external emails is simple once they’re aware of a few best practice suggestions. Even veteran email users are likely to learn something new from these suggestions.

Use address fields to your advantage

If you’ve ever sent an email, then you’ll consider it pretty standard knowledge that the address field, or the “to” line, is the space to put your intended recipient’s email address. Without a populated address field, the email has nowhere to go. But did you know that you can use the “to,” CC and BCC fields to indicate different things to the recipients? Correctly addressing your email might seem like a simple task, but it’s actually one of the hardest things to get right when it comes to email.

While most people know that any email addresses in the BCC field will not be visible to other recipients, the function of the other two fields is sometimes unclear. For instance, the “to” field and the CC field are often used interchangeably. There is a distinction between the two though. The recipient(s) you put in the “to” field are those who are the specific intended recipients of the message. The opening or greeting in your message might be addressed to this person (or people), and the expectation is likely that they’ll need to take action in some way as a result of your message.

The CC field, however, is not for additional people for whom the message is directly pertinent though, despite how it is often used. Rather, the CC field is used for people who likely don’t need to act on the message in the email but would benefit from knowing the email has been sent.

For instance, imagine a colleague has asked that you contact one of their customers to answer a question that falls under your area of expertise. You might email the customer (putting their email address into the “to” field) and CC your colleague so that the colleague knows you’ve carried out this task and sent the email. The colleague doesn’t need to act upon the matter, but they’ll benefit from having seen the email. There are numerous other examples of when the CC field is useful.

So, it seems like you can get an edge up on the competition simply by replying to emails from your customers. That’s truly the bare minimum though. Moving beyond the basic expectation of providing a response, there are a whole host of ways to set your organization apart from the rest by enhancing your email service. The first step? Starting at the top with the subject line.

 Perfect your opening

Once you’ve mastered where to put which email addresses in the address fields, it’s time to turn your attention to making a strong start to your message. The opening of your message sets the tone for your email, and it’s best to aim for something professional yet warm. It’s important to remember that professional doesn’t mean unfriendly. In fact, an email that lacks a friendly and personal greeting is unlikely to be read or to get a response. Try something like:

  • Good morning Emma
  • Greetings Anthony
  • Hi William

Another common mistake is the use of subject lines that are far too long. Many people nowadays view and respond to their emails from their phones. Despite how large some phones are, the screen only displays a certain number of words or characters in a single line. This means that subject lines are incomplete and cut off or generally difficult to read. If your subject line exceeds the amount of text that can be displayed on a phone screen, there’s a good chance it’s way too long.

While some people think that skipping a friendly greeting in favor of an immediate and formal start to the email message is the epitome of professionalism, this is very much not the case. Just as you’d use the Telephone Doctor three-part greeting to answer the phone, greet the email recipient as if you care.

Close the deal

To mirror your warm opening statement, it’s also recommended to close your message with a similarly friendly message. An email without a closing statement will seem odd and unfinished to the recipient. Take the time to close your email in a thoughtful way.

To learn more email tips and tricks, including how to use the BCC field most effectively and what types of closing messages are recommended, contact a Service Skills representative today and request a free demo of Email Matters: The Art of Better Service. Be sure to check out these other great courses in the Email MattersSM series: