Business E-mail Etiquette – Professional Business Practices
Corresponding through e-mail can be a difficult task. Without face-to-face contact, the little nuances written in friendly emails can be lost in translation and have to be eliminated. The proper business email etiquette will allow a business to correspond with potential clients or employees in a professional manner at all times.
An e-mail’s subject line is always given too little attention by businesses. This is the attention grabber needed to ensure an e-mail does not go unread or end up in the spam box. This will normally need to include the company name and a brief description for the purpose of the email. Spell check is necessary as well as appropriate sentence structure. Avoid using all capital letters as well.
Business-only E-mail Address
Typically, a business email will be needed so that clients understand that the business sent them the email specifically. This will be essential for businesses to have when they have their own domain. This shows professionalism and is expected, especially for larger businesses. While it is acceptable to use Gmail, clients may find it as unprofessional.
Be Formal at First
Formal writing needs to be adhered to so that clients are addressed accordingly. This will mean the elimination of slang words or informal grammatical usages. However, when a relationship has been built, it will mean that the formal aspects do not need to be as essential. If a friendship is had between the writer and reader, being too formal may be a turnoff.
Skip the Humor
Human is another aspect that needs to be avoided. Adding in humor can lead to an unprofessional outlook on a business. Instead, an email will have to be straightforward and to the point. Unless the person reading the email is a close friend, jokes should be avoided at all times. Remember, these are business matters and need to be treated as such.
Understand Cultural Differences
Cultural and language barriers need to be given special attention. Never write an email in haste and believe that the sender was saying something inappropriate when they are from a different cultural background or speak a different language. In fact, always ask for a second opinion if an email’s content does not seem appropriate.
Reply in a Timely Manner
Clients will understand when matters are not answered quickly because of the holidays or the weekend. However, allotting time to answer emails is essential during business hours. Never let a client wait too long for a response. The first thing that must be done when entering the office in the morning is replying to emails.
Just about every email service will allow the user to add a signature to their emails. This is essential so that the reader clearly understands who sent the email and what their position in the company is. Typically, a signature will be written as
Name | Job Title
Avoid making signatures longer than 4 – 6 lines.
Never Respond Briefly
Always put substance into each email so that there are never one-line emails sent. This is essential and will be important in holding the reader’s attention.
Business email etiquette requires a business to present professionalism. There is no excuse when sending an email that is riddled with spelling mistakes or blatant grammatical errors. Instead, edit each email as if it were going to be posted on a company website. This ensures that a business always looks professional and eliminates misunderstandings.
Keep Attachments to a Minimum
Many email providers have limitations on attachment sizes. Instead of sending many attachments, adhere to only attaching one or two files in an email. If multiple files are required, compress them into one file using a compression program. If a file is large, warn the user ahead of time.
Avoid Reply to All
Replying can be tricky when more than one person has been sent an email. If an email no longer needs multiple readers, cut out those that no longer belong. While a “reply all” may seem to be appropriate, it is often unnecessary and redundant. In some cases, it may also violate privacy rights.
Auto-responders need to be used with caution. While this may seem convenient to use, it should only be done when on vacation or out of the office. Not only will spam pile up as a result, but if used often, it will show that a company merely does not have time to respond to their business emails.
If multiple employees are responding to emails, they will need to follow proper etiquette rules at all times. Businesses need to put rules in place and follow strict guidelines and training procedures to ensure that all dispatched emails conform to company standards. With the right rules in place, a business will be able to ensure that their emails never cause their reputation to be tarnished.