Tip 1: Subject line
The subject line should be relevant to the recipient and should communicate the subject matter of the e-mail as accurately as possible. If the sender is replying to a prior e-mail, stick to the subject line previously used or add on but retain key words. This helps the recipient track and find your e-mail among the many they receive a day. Directional words like “urgent” or “response required” may be added to convey that action is required but should be refrained from, when not needed. A clear subject line will help the recipient evaluate whether the e-mail is worth their time. Without it, the recipient may not even open the e-mail.
Tip 2: Concise and brief
E-mail communication is not meant to be long drawn and meandering. When writing e-mails, keep it to the point. Sticking to the point shows respect for the recipient’s time and amplifies the chance that the e-mail will actually be read. Bullet points can make an e-mail easier to read and assimilate but are still acceptable professionally. Stick to one topic per e-mail, preferably flowing from the subject line. This is especially important for professional e-mail communication.
Tip 3: Clarification and conflict resolution is best done over the phone
The automatic response when someone receives a stiff e-mail is to shoot back, however e-mail is not an advisable medium for resolving conflict. If the sender feels tensions mounting, the appropriate course of action is to respond scheduling a phone call, receive confirmation, and offer clarifications or discuss the matter over the phone.
Tip 4: Prompt response
People who respond to e-mails quickly get noticed by the sender. The quicker the reply, the faster it reaches the sender while they are still using their device. This means tasks are accomplished faster and the lengths of to-do lists reduced. It also makes the sender appear professional and is considered to be prompt customer service. Even if the sender cannot attend to the e-mail immediately, it shows as courteous when they acknowledge the e-mail with a promise to reply.
Tip 5: Cc’s and Bcc’s
When replying to an e-mail where you were cc’d as part of a group, be careful not to hit the “reply all” button. Most of the time, it is unnecessary and causes a nuisance to others. Bcc’s are sometimes frowned upon when they come to the notice of recipients. They are often perceived as mistrustful.
Tip 6: Assume your e-mail can be seen by everyone
It is best not to assume privacy as records are usually kept of e-mail conversations. E-mail is vulnerable to hacking. Another point is that, in the workplace, records of e-mail conversations are usually kept backed up. Refrain from sending anything on e-mail you would not discuss openly. Private conversations are best had in person.
Tip 7: Proofread before sending
Spellcheck comes with most e-mail software, but it is a good practice to proofread an e-mail once before it is sent. Poor grammar and spelling gives a less than stellar impression to the recipient of the e-mail. Even if the sender is certain their grammar and spelling are perfect, there is a possibility of omitted words or incorrect punctuation. Avoid shortcuts and abbreviations, unless previously defined within parentheses. It is important to do so in order to prove that you have efficient customer service.
Tip 8: Forward judiciously
E-mails that are doing the rounds should not be forwarded, especially in a professional space. Hoax e-mails and clickbait should not be spread. If you would like to forward something, ensure it is genuinely of assistance to the recipient(s). Whether an e-mail is a hoax can be checked by copying a few words on Google along with the word “hoax” and running a search.
Tip 9: Refrain from attachments
Attachments to e-mails consume bandwidth, may contain viruses, or may require a specific software to be downloaded. Rather than attaching files to e-mails, it is better and more convenient to the recipient when the relevant portion of the document is copied and pasted into the e-mail. This improves customer support.
Tip 10: Include a signature at the end of the e-mail
An e-mail signature with all the sender’s contact information in one place will assist the recipient in taking the interaction forward. Many times we have experienced the frustration of wanting to respond or phone a person but having to look for their contact details for several minutes at a stretch.
Following the above tips will help in making sure your e-mail conveys the right message, is respectful of the recipient and is likely to have the desired result. With the prevalence of e-mail communication today, the importance and effectiveness of a well-drafted e-mail cannot be understated.
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