Let’s start with email etiquette basics and why it’s important in your handmade business.
It’s amazing to find in this day of technology and it’s high reliance on email and text messaging as a standard means of communication that some businesses still do not realize just how important their communications are.
In the business world email messages range between the semi-formal approach (that was dominant with the inter-office memo) down to a sort of chatty exchange (like you would have with someone over the phone or perhaps with a co-worker while standing at the coffee machine).
We all need to realize that email messages and texts are permanent! Just take a look at the contents of your Inbox and you might just be surprised just how old some of those messages are or take a look at your text history and see how far it goes back. Would you have kept a paper letter for that long? Probably not. The REALLY scary part is that most people give very little thought about what they write in an email – even though it might hang around in someones Inbox for years.
Surprisingly enough it’s the normal day-do-day emails and texts that cause the most problems with offhand remarks, unguarded comments, and careless wording. Texting with a friend is very different than texting with a customer or potential customer.
The main problem with emails and texts is “missed signals”. The written message doesn’t have the facial expressions or gestures that you would get with a face-to-face conversation, and there is no tone of voice to interpret like you would have over the phone. A great deal of “human communication” comes from these non-verbal signals and they have traditionally helped make a message clear, and can also allow us to make judgments about a person’s motives and intentions.
Why do you need email etiquette in your handmade business?
As a business owner you need email etiquette for the following three reasons:
- Protection from awkward situations
What are email etiquette rules?
If you search the internet, you’ll find many etiquette guides and rules – these rules will obviously differ based on the nature of your business. Below is a list of the most important email and text messaging etiquette guidelines that apply to just about everyone in the business world.
- Be concise and to the point – don’t make the message longer than it needs to be. Reading email and/or text messages is harder than reading printed matter.
- Answer all questions and try to pre-empt additional questions – if you fail to answer all the questions in the original email, you will receive additional emails. This is a waste of your time and your customer’s time, it can cause frustration, and perhaps give the impression that either you do not know the answer to the question or that you do not have an eye for detail.
- Use proper spelling – usee yur spall chacker. Its annyang to reede constent spalling misstakes.
- Use punctuation – it’s hard to read stuff that doesnt have any commas capital letters periods or apostrophes.
- Use good grammar – don’t use shorthand. Stuff like “r u going to stp by ltr” can be hard to read. Don’t B lzy, type the whole wrd.
- Make it personal – say “Hello” or “Hi” and the persons name.
- Use templates for frequently used responses – some questions you get over and over again. Save these responses as templates or drafts and then copy and paste them into your messages when you need them.
- Answer promptly – people send an email because they want a quick response to their question. Emails should be answered within 24 hours, preferably, within the same business day. If the email is complicated, acknowledge that you’ve received it and that you will respond within a specified time frame.
- Do not attach unnecessary files – remember, attachments can take an annoyingly long time to download, possibly causing your recipient’s connection to “time-out” or the email could even be blocked.
- Use good structure and layout – reading from a phone or even a computer screen is more difficult than reading a piece of paper. Use short paragraphs with blank lines between each paragraph.
- Do not overuse the “high priority” option – if you overuse this option it will lose it’s impact and your message might come across as slightly aggressive.
- Do not write in all CAPS – MANY READERS DON’T LIKE ALL CAPS. IT’S HARD TO READ AND SEEMS LIKE YOU ARE SHOUTING!!!!!
- Don’t leave out the message thread – you should always include the original email in your reply. Some people feel this isn’t necessary, but if you receive a lot of email on a daily basis (or if people don’t reply promptly) you obviously can’t remember all of the details.
- Add disclaimers to your emails.
- Read it before you send it! – Reading your email or text message before you send it will help you send a more effective message, avoid misunderstandings, and helps you make sure you answered everything.
- Don’t overuse the “Reply to All” – use this feature only if your message needs to be seen by every person who received the original email.
- Mass emails – use the bcc field. Some people tend to place all the email addresses in the “To” or “CC” field. There are two drawbacks to this practice: (1) the recipient knows that you have sent the same message to a lot of other people, and (2) you are publicizing someone else’s email address.
- Be careful about using abbreviations and emoticons – they just aren’t appropriate in business emails.
- Use standard fonts and colors – the recipient might see something totally different than what you intended. Choose font colors that are easy to read and avoid busy backgrounds.
- Use a subject – emails without a subject may be automatically blocked or sent to the recipients Spam or Junk Mail folder.
- Create an email signature – include your name, company name, phone number and website address.
Yes, this is a pretty lengthy list (and I’m certainly not suggesting that you have to follow each and everyone of these rules) but it helpful to know and plan our business correspondence in order to make the best possible impression.
Next week we’ll discuss “Making a Good First Impression”, until then,