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How to email your clients without sounding alarms

March 29th, 2013 by John Kirchner

How do you communicate with clients? Do you pepper them with phone calls during business hours? Do you try to catch them on the way to work or during the evening? Or have you resorted to email to streamline client communications?

Email might be the most convenient and considerate way of communicating with clients, especially if you are serving several clients at once. Think about it: You can’t interrupt a meeting or dinner with an email, and you get to have a record of all communication at your disposal just in case you confront a he-said, she-said misunderstanding.

But emailing, like calling, requires proper etiquette. Here are some habits from Forbes.com and RealtorMag.org that may send the wrong message:

Misuse of the subject line: “Including the terms ‘Urgent,’ ‘Action Item,’ or ‘Read Me’ in the subject line ‘presumes her message is more important than any other correspondence you might have received. This perception is that she is over-confident and thinks very little of your time.’ The same can be held true for over-using the priority flag on your e-mails to others.”

EVERYTHING IN CAPS: “Typing in caps means you’re trying to stress your message but it’s also the equivalent of screaming at a person but it can come across as ‘forceful’ and ‘arrogant,’ the Forbes article notes. The same holds true for excessive use of punctuation, e.g., using multiple exclamation points.”

Following up too quickly: “You want to make sure the person received and read your e-mail, so you call or send another e-mail right away to find out. But you’ll send the message as impatient and self-righteous. If you expect that instant of a response, ‘the more efficient route is to pick up the phone’ in the first place.”

Auto responses: “An auto response to every e-mail you receive may be giving you more time but it also has the potential to send the wrong message. You reassure the receiver that you care about their e-mail but you’ll respond to it at a convenient time to you, which could be viewed as condescending, the Forbes article notes.”

Resurrecting an old e-mail chain: “The intention may be to help keep the correspondence all in one place and easier for the recipient but you may send the message that you’re ‘lazy, disorganized, or [have] poor e-mail sorting habits,’ the Forbes article notes. Begin a new e-mail chain with a correct subject line for every new issue discussed.”

 



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