Emailing is a daily, sometimes mundane task. It’s also the easiest way to show your clients and potential clients that you have what it takes to handle their job; professionalism, promptness, thoroughness, and follow-through. In essence, it’s your calling card.
Writing an email that doesn’t have anything to do with your client’s issue, misunderstanding what their question was, or writing just enough to “get by" doesn’t cut it. This can result in lost business and unhappy clients. On the other hand, responding in a clear and concise manner, answering every question, and even going above and beyond, retains clients and increases referrals.
Many of you may be familiar with emails like this in response to a dinner invitation: “G8. CU at 8. " While this example is quite extreme, imagine getting an email like that from a business associate. What does it tell you? Does the sender not have enough time to type out, “Great. See you at 8:00pm. " Maybe they aren’t looking forward to dinner and are trying to blow you off, or do they look at you as more of a buddy than a business associate, therefore they feel that they can communicate with you in a friendly tone. Very confusing! Learn how to create clear, professional emails that not only address your client’s needs, but also go that extra mile to keep your current clients happy and potential clients edging in your direction.
Answering emails promptly and confirming receipt, even if you cannot fulfill your client’s request for another 24 hours, gives your client piece of mind. Let them know you received the email and when you will be able to fulfill their request.
2. Clear & Concise
Don’t beat around the bush. Assume all of your clients or potential clients are busy. After all, they’re asking for your help. For example, if your client asks when you will be able to finish a project, don’t respond with this: “Hi. I have a full schedule this week and an appointment next Monday, so maybe Tuesday. " Instead, the response can be as simple as “Hi Dave, I can have this completed by Tuesday afternoon. " Keep it simple.
3. Subject Lines
Keep the subject line short and to the point, but clear. For example, the subject line “Meeting" isn’t very descriptive. Instead, choose something like “Lunch Meeting on Tuesday". This will be much easier for your client to locate in his or her exploding-at-the-seams inbox when needed.
4. Grammar, Punctuation, & Spelling
Correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling can make or break a deal. I, as a client, would not have much faith in a business that writes an email like this: “Hi, we are on track to offer, you a spectacular deal for your printing for your brochure becaue you have spend much money with us. " When I communicate with a vendor, I need to know that they understand and comprehend my needs and will complete my project on time and up to spec.
5. Personality & Humor
You can remain professional and still throw in a bit of your own personality and a bit of humor from time to time. As a matter of fact, that can help to create rapport however, unless I know a client well, I always wait for them to “humor" me a bit before I “humor" back. As an example, instead of saying, “Yes, personalized tennis balls are a great idea!" you could personalize it slightly by saying, “Giving out personalized tennis balls at the company tennis tournament would be a great idea. As a matter of fact, my dog is getting his racket out as we speak. "
6. Prevent Needless Mistakes
We’ve all done it; sent an email to the wrong person, sent an incomplete email, or written something in the heat of the moment then clicked on send. Ouch! To prevent this, save the “To:" field for last. Write your email, proofread, and then enter the email address and click send. If you’re feeling a little riled up, close the email (without saving!), walk away, grab a drink (of water, preferably), take a deep breath and start over.
7. Going Above & Beyond
While time is usually of the essence and you rarely have a moment to spare, going above and beyond is, by far, the most important aspect to creating and maintaining solid email relationships. When was the last time someone did something pleasant for you that you didn’t expect? Take this example: A client emails asking you to create a brochure for their business. They have included the text, graphics, the date they will need it complete by, and all other pertinent information. They have also noted that they will be using Printer #1. You know that Printer #1’s fees are very high. When emailing the client back, you acknowledge receipt of their request, provide them with an estimated completion date, and go above and beyond by providing them with information about Printer #2 who you have been very happy with and who’s rates are very reasonable.
Spending a little time and attention on each and every email you send will help you maintain a strong working relationship with your current clients. Potential clients will, without a doubt, notice your attention to detail and say, “Yes, I want to work with her!"
About the Author:
Heidi Saeter is the owner of Chameleon Office Pros. Her company provides a variety of services including newsletter creation and management, website updates, graphic design services, shopping cart management, and more. For more information, visit her website at http://www.chameleonofficepros.com