We have a fairly large customer base, and deal with everyone through eMail. In every communication, I try to remember a few basics about communicating through the written word, and I thought I would share a few of them today:
1. Be professional: Give good answers to information requested, and in a factual way which sets out the details of the project/yarn/pattern/order, etc. in a clear and easily understood manner.
2. Do not use humor in business communications: Humor is so easily mis-understood that we stand a chance of insulting someone rather than amusing them. Too, one’s style of humor sends subliminal messages … I am cool, I am young and cool, I am old and trying to be cool … You never know the tolerance quotient of your reader, so stay away from humor.
3. Write in plain, grammatically correct language: Drop the cheering ‘Yaaay’s!’ and use of too many exclamation points. I need to watch the exclamation points myself! Give information, talk about your product’s attributes, get the message across. Please drop the Instant Message abbreviations. They are childish and send the message that you are either addicted to adolescent code, or you do not care enough to write out your thoughts in real words. Remember that you are writing business information and it will affect sales.
4. Don’t hide behind the anonymity of the internet to reply to insults: It’s just not nice, and will not endear you as either a customer or a seller to anyone’s heart. Do you need to tell someone off in a business letter, exaggerate a situation with metaphors that are unsavory or cutting? The answer is ‘no.’ There is no excuse for writing hurtful letters in a business situation.
So, how do we handle replies to eMail that we receive which really should have been slept on and then deleted? The answer is to just do business.
Yes, conduct business in a professional manner without telling the recipient they are wrong, or they are childish, or bad, or insincere. If you have to apologize for a misunderstanding, do it. There is nothing wrong and it is actually a great attention getter to say something like ‘I am sorry that I did not understand your question.’ It gives the recipient a chance to feel appeased, even if ever so slightly, and may save you a good customer in the long run. Also, hold onto any reply to an unprofessional eMail and edit it heavily before sending it off. Short replies are better than long ones, especially if the writer displayed any negative emotion in their original communication. Short and to the point, throw in some extra product information showing that you are above personal vindictive.
Remember why you are even in communication with this person in the first place. Just do business.