If you’re reading this you’re probably thinking, ‘Huh! No point in going any further – I do this all day, every day, so there’s nothing new I can learn.’

Bear with me, and hopefully this blog will help you look at writing business emails in a new light.

When you’re emailing customers, it’s really important to take the right approach. Grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and sloppy language is unprofessional and gives the totally wrong impression. Imagine that you are a customer and receive an email in text-speak in response to a complaint. How would you feel? You would probably think that you weren’t being taken seriously, or that your complaint wasn’t being dealt with in a professional way.

Also – and I know I keep banging on about this – no matter what you are writing, it needs to be clear and easy to understand, or you won’t get your message across. This is even more important when you are communicating with customers. So keep the following points in mind when you are emailing them:

General points

  • Don’t use ‘Hi’. Use ‘Dear Mr, Miss, Mrs or Ms’.
  • Use ‘plain text’ rather than HTML, which creates emails that are in the style of web pages. Some people will be accessing their emails from hand-held devices such as  smartphones that can only display text.
  • Structure your email as you would a letter – that is, with a beginning, middle and end. This will help your reader to understand what you are writing quickly and easily.
  • Break up long paragraphs and use bulleted lists. This will help your reader to digest large chunks of information.
  • Don’t attach files or images that are bigger than 5MB because this can cause problems for the person receiving your email.
  • Remember that your company’s disclaimer probably won’t protect you if you deliberately mislead your customer, or lie to them.
  • Always check over an email before you hit the send button.

Style and tone

  • Keep your style and tone formal and professional.
  • Don’t use slang, abbreviations, emoticons or text-speak: ‘Soz I 4got 2 send the order, bro’ just doesn’t cut the mustard.
  • Use proper grammar, spelling, punctuation and formatting: if you use lower case where there should be a capital letter and ignore proper sentence structure, you’ll come over as sloppy and unprofessional. Again, ‘their wasn’t any things left in the wearhouse sorry I didn’t get the order by you’ definitely won’t impress your customer.

Here’s an example of an email to a customer who has every right to be feeling grumpy:

From:  sarah.branthwaite@crystalglasses.com

Sent: 21 April 2014

To:  emily.hill@googlemail.com

Subject: Delivery of broken crystal glasses

Dear Ms Hill

Thank you for your email today informing us that two of the six crystal glasses you ordered from our website were broken on arrival.

We are extremely sorry about this. We have systems and procedures in place to make sure that our crystal products are packed as carefully as possible, and we are looking into why these failed in your case. We will email you as soon as we have found out what happened.

You told us in your email that these glasses are required urgently for a golden anniversary present, so we have packed another box and will send it by courier to your work address in Edinburgh today. It will arrive by 4.30pm at the latest.

We hope that this will compensate for your disappointment, and look forward to having you shop with us again in the future.

Yours sincerely,

Sarah Branthwaite

Customer Services Manager

sarah.branthwaite@crystalglasses.com

020 666 666

Hopefully Ms Hill will be mollified when she receives this!

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope you found it useful, and I would welcome your comments. Oh – and I nearly forgot! Happy Easter!