When using email for business purposes, there are many ways that you can make an impact on the recipient. Well-written emails will leave a lasting positive impression on your customer or colleague. High-quality business emails typically have:
- Effective subject lines
- Error-free, brief (but still thorough) messages
- Warm opening and closing statements
Even with all of these elements present, the inability to accurately read tone in emails means that there are any number of things that could go wrong when sending emails. According to Hubspot, there are 4 billion daily email users; that means there are a staggering number of potentially problematic emails being sent each day. Given that, according to Forrester, 54% of consumers choose email as their preferred method of communication when seeking support from a business, many of these problematic messages are likely to be coming from businesses.
Since email has been widely used for several decades now, the standard for delivering excellent service to both internal and external customers has never been higher. There’s no excuse for messages that haven’t been proofread or emails that strike either too casual or too formal of a tone. But, beyond the seemingly obvious tools and techniques like spellchecking your writing and using the address fields strategically, how can you and your team reach the elusive “next level” of doing business over email?
Employ tools for emphasis
While best practice suggestions, including those from ServiceSkills’ “Email Matters” series, often focus on striking a business-friendly tone, some service representatives might struggle with translating this to email. When delivering service on the phone or face-to-face, it’s much easier to use your voice, facial expressions and body language to further clarify the intention of your message. This obviously is not an option over email, though, which is one of the platform’s biggest downfalls.
In order to ensure that your email messages are communicating the tone you’re aiming for, use the tools for emphasis that are available to you within your email platform. For instance, using a single font and a consistent type size throughout the email will present a professional look to the reader. There are additional tools that you can use to manipulate your text to convey various tones, including:
These tools can indicate to the reader that a particular portion of the message should be given more attention. Avoid overusing these tools, however, as their effectiveness diminishes significantly when used throughout much of the message. Effectively using these tools – which includes being aware of the importance of not overusing them – to strike the perfect business-friendly tone will set your team’s emails apart from other organizations.
Keep it offline
While tools for emphasis are something to seriously consider adding into your regular email practice, there are also several pitfalls to avoid at all costs when taking your business emails to the next level. As you likely know, the internet is a pretty permanent place, and this includes your email inbox. Hitting “delete” on an unwanted email does little to completely remove it from the record. Remember that emails can be forwarded, saved, printed, and screenshotted by the recipient (or by someone that the recipient sent your message to). Operate accordingly.
It’s best to keep emails free of any derogatory messages about coworkers, customers, or your organization as a whole. Keep this type of information offline – or, ideally, avoid it altogether. While we know realistically that any business will have its problems, putting this type of negative content on record through email can cost you your job and reputation.
This applies to emails that you receive as well. In addition to never authoring this type of content, it’s advisable not to forward emails you receive that contain questionable material. Hit delete without engaging with the message in any way or, depending on your organization’s procedures and the severity of the message, save a record of the email and immediately report it to the appropriate manager or department.
While these may seem like reminders that only impact internal communications, you should absolutely avoid communicating about any inappropriate topics over email (or any other means of communication) with customers as well. What might seem to you to be a harmless political joke could be intensely offensive to a customer. Inappropriate topics, or topics that are at all questionable, have no place when trying to hit the ideal business-friendly tone that will enhance your team’s email communications.
To learn more about the tips and techniques you and your team should employ to deliver high-quality email service to internal and external customers, contact a ServiceSkills representative today. You can request a free demo of Email Matters: The Art of Better Service, an entire series dedicated to teaching the email communication skills that will keep customers coming back. Be sure to watch these videos on popular topics in this series!
- Creating Great Subject Lines
- Writing with Conviction, Jargon and Shortcuts, and Responding Promptly
- Address Fields and Opening and Closing Lines
- Face-to-Face Communication vs. Email
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