Email is great. I love it. We all do. We can keep in touch with clients, business associates and groups of people. It’s a convenient and efficient to email clients during the day without interrupting their work with a needless phone call. I especially like being able to keep in touch with my intrepid, itinerant adult sons. However, there are frustrations with some email correspondents and the missed opportunities to communicate effectively.
Use the proper tool to communicate: Recently a supplier asked me a question in an email. I answered to the best of my ability. On Day Two I received a follow-up question that was really a clarification of the first question, which I had apparently misunderstand. As a result, I had to do some research and responded on Day Three, with partial information. After business hours on Day Three the supplier sent a follow-up on the follow-up question. I read this email late in the morning on Day Four. The light dawned! Now I knew what the supplier wanted and I was able to provide the answer to what was essentially the question I had misunderstood on Day One.
All this confusion could have been resolved very simply by a telephone conversation. If we had discussed what information she needed I could have clarified the question and given the information immediately – without research and without a four-day delay. Remember email is not the only tool we have. Sometimes the telephone is still the best option.
Use communication tools properly: My other pet peeve about email correspondents is failure to use Subject Lines. Some people just never learn. When a subject line is left blank does that mean the message has no value, importance or interest? That is what it means to me. I rarely open an email with a blank subject line. If it is from a known sender, maybe he’ll get lucky. I scan subject lines for interesting information. I base my open or delete choices on sender line first and subject line second.
Sometimes people reply to a message on a particular subject but introduce a completely new subject. They fail to change the subject line. This gets my sorting system messed up when I try to sort on subject to follow a specific discussion thread.
Maximize the tools: Signature files provide an opportunity to give your reader valuable and helpful information. You can remind people of your full name, company name, phone number, web site address and a tag line about your company or about an upcoming event. When reading email remotely, your correspondent may not have easy access to your phone number. Make it as easy as possible for your clients to communicate by providing your complete contact information on every email, every time.
Do you have pet peeves about how people use email? Now voice mail that is another topic altogether.