Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Email etiquette - especially for Greetings emails

Email manners

Implement email manners or netiquette.
For professional organizations, it is necessary to prepare a document containing guidelines for email etiquettes.   This email policy should include the entire do and do not concerning the use of the company's email system.  Distribute hardcopy and take signatures of all employees.  Employees must be trained to fully understand the importance of email etiquette. 

Here is a checklist pertaining to email manners / email etiquettes.

Blind Carbon Copy
1. Use the Bcc field.
While sending greetings to many friends, use the Bcc: field.  BCC = Blind Carbon Copy.  When sending an email, some people place all the email addresses in the To: field. This is bad because (1) All the recipient knows that you have sent the same message to a large number of recipients, and (2) you are publicizing someone else's email address without their permission.  Insert all email ids in the BCC field. You may put your own email id in TO field and all others friends email id in the BCC.
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2.  In the reply - answer all questions / points, to avoid further questions.
Give point numbers.  An email reply must answer all questions, and pre-empt further questions – If you do not answer all the questions in the original email, you will receive further e-mails regarding the unanswered questions, which will not only waste your time and your customer’s time but also cause considerable frustration.  
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3. Do not write in CAPITALS.
IF YOU WRITE IN CAPITALS, IT SEEMS AS IF YOU ARE SHOUTING. This can be highly annoying and might trigger an unwanted response in the form of a bad email.  Even primary school child use proper lowercase and uppercase.
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4. Make email personal.
Not only should the e-mail be personally addressed, it should also include personal i.e. customized content.    
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5. Use templates for frequently used responses.
Some questions you get repeatedly, such as directions to address, or how to subscribe to your newsletter, or blog.  Save these texts as response templates and paste these into your message when you need them. You can save your templates in a Word document, or use pre-formatted emails.  
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6. Answer promptly, but not too quickly.
E-mail should be replied to within at least 48 hours and preferably within the same working day.  Discuss with your team and decide, depending on your nature of business.   If the email is complicated, just send an email back saying that you have received it and that you will get back to them.   You may use auto reply to acknowledge the email.
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7.  Avoid attaching a file.
By sending large attachments, you can annoy customers.  Wherever possible try to compress attachments and only send attachments when they are necessary.  Moreover, you need to have a good virus scanner in place since your customers will not be happy if you send them documents with viruses!  You may use ‘sendthisfile.com’ for sending large files.  You may would like to convert the file as .pdf format using ‘pdfconverter’.   Use Scribd.com for sharing documents for private and public.  Here the advantage is that the document is converted to HTML 5.
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8. Use proper structure / layout.
Since reading from a screen is more difficult than reading from paper, the structure and lay out is very important for e-mail messages. Use short paragraphs and blank lines between each paragraph. When making points, number them or mark each point as separate to keep the overview.
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9. Do not overuse the high priority option.
We all know the story of the boy who cried tiger.  If you overuse the high priority option, it will lose its function when you really need it. Moreover, even if an email has high priority, your message will come across as slightly aggressive if you flag it as 'high priority'.   Use high priority only when it is both urgent and important.
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10.  Use spell check for correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
This is not only important because improper spelling, grammar and punctuation give a bad impression of your organization, it is also important for conveying the message properly. If your program has a spell checking option, why not use it?
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11. Don't leave out the message thread.
When you reply to an email, you must include the original email in your reply, in other words click 'Reply', (or reply all as the case may be) instead of 'New’.   
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12. Add disclaimer to your emails footer signature.
This can help protect your company from liability.  
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13. Read your email before you send it.
Many people do not bother to read an email before they send it out, as can be seen from the many spelling and grammar mistakes contained in emails.  Review for effective message and avoid misunderstandings and inappropriate comments.
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14. Do not overuse Reply to All.
Only use Reply to All if you really need your message to be seen by each person who received the original message.
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15. Try to be concise and to the point as much as possible.
Do not make an e-mail longer than it needs to be. Remember that reading an e-mail is harder than reading printed communications and a long e-mail can be very discouraging to read.
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16. Take care with abbreviations and emoticons.
In professional emails, try not to use abbreviations such as BTW (by the way) and LOL (laugh out loud). The recipient might not be aware of the meanings of the abbreviations and in business emails, these are generally not appropriate. The same applies to ‘emoticons’, such as the smiley :-).
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17. Do not forward chain letters.
Do not forward chain letters. We can safely say that all of them are hoaxes. Just delete the letters as soon as you receive them.

Take help of your IT consultant for a formal training.  Please add / comment if some point is left out.  Would you care to improve on this checklist?

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