5 Tips On How To Write Better Business Emails
6th July 2011 by Rachel Willis
Having been mentored by people who spent the majority of their working life putting pen to paper, I was taught from the start of my career that how you write a business email is very important. In other words, I was taught e-mail etiquette.
Between client and suppliers email etiquette it basically means courtesy, manners and customer service - right? It sounds pretty simple to execute, so I wonder, why do so many people seem to get it wrong?
I really didn’t want this blog post to turn into a rant, but I can feel it going in that direction! I know we all receive endless e-mails but the difference between a good email and a bad one can have a huge impact on peoples’ moods, desire to complete a task on your behalf and the receiver’s general perception towards you, and your organisation. I always try to follow some simple guidelines when writing an e-mail and I thought I would share them with you to see if you think I am right to get on my high horse about email etiquette!
Tip 1 - Use the right name
At the start of any email I always use a person’s name; ‘Hi Rachel’ for example. I use the correct spelling and I don’t simply write their initial. I get called ‘R’ a lot. This winds me up almost as much as the excessive use of acronyms; WRT (with regard to) OTOH (on the other hand) Please stop being so lazy and write a sentence!
Tip 2 - Start with a positive
I don’t go straight into the body of an email. I always start with a positive; ‘I hope you’re having a good day’, ‘thank you for the below email’, ‘I hope you had a good weekend.’ Etc… I know this might take a couple of extra seconds and seem a bit false, but over time I have found being personable and asking questions really helps to build a good relationship with people you are working with.
Tip 3 - Keep it simple
I seem to waste a considerable amount of time deciphering emails. Countless times I’ve been sent emails that consist of this: ‘Can you help with the below query.’ ‘Below’ is a mile long email trail that includes 10 or more different opinions, further questions, forwards, etc… and I have to read the whole thing just to figure out what the bloody query is! These are obviously not the best e-mails to receive, and if I ever have to send something complex in an e-mail to someone ,I have found it is always better received when you include the key points from the “below” e-mails in your e-mail and also give them a call to let them know it is coming! That way the complex information below only needs to be viewed as a reference, and they don’t have to decipher a load of emails to get their head around the topic.
Tip 4 - End on a positive
I always like to end an email with a positive; ‘If you have any queries, please do contact me’, and I always include an email signature which includes my contact details – including my telephone number as I realise that some people do prefer to carry out business over the phone.
Tip 5 - Include your contact details
Another pet hate of mine is spending what feels like a lifetime searching for peoples’ contact details. I’m not talking about email addresses, I’m talking about contact telephone numbers – for those of us who don’t want to hide behind the desktop and want a conventional conversation on the phone.
I spend a lot of my time working with Corporate Communications Teams and nothing frustrates me more than having to waste time searching for a person’s telephone number – especially when their job title implies that their role is to communicate!
I know in this age of mass communication it’s easy to fall into the trap of always appearing off-line, sending emails straight to a junk file and with-holding telephone details, but if your job is to communicate then I think that the channels of communication should be left wide open!
So while I spend around 20 hours a week writing emails, I must have wasted several months of my life so far deciphering badly written emails and searching for telephone numbers!
Right, that is the rant over and I feel much better now :)
Please feel free to contact me or add to this with your own e-mail advice and tips in the comments below - it would be great to hear from you.
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