It’s no secret that in business email is used more than any other means of communication, but even though email has become second nature to us, sometimes there are some basic rules that seem to be forgotten. Apart from the obvious rules of including a relevant subject line and using the appropriate language here are some other best-practice rules that can’t be ignored:
Reply All – Think twice before hitting reply all and decide who actually needs to receive the email. Intentional and frequent use of this feature can cause frustration if the information in the thread isn’t relevant to the recipient. Whilst it’s good to keep colleagues and customers in the loop irrelevant emails only clog up inboxes.
Response Time – The sooner you respond the better but all emails should certainly be replied to within 24 hours. Get in the habit of replying immediately and in situations where you can’t because you don’t have the answer let them know what you’re waiting on and when you expect to get them the information they need.
Proof Read - Mistakes in emails rarely go unnoticed. Be sure to read over your email before sending it. Don’t rely on spell check and do take care to ensure your message is clear, succinct and free of spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.
When in Doubt Leave it Out – Be cautious with humour and sarcasm as they can easily get lost in translation without the right tone or facial expressions.
Follow Ups – You’re entitled to politely follow up on emails where there has not been a response. For non urgent issues a follow up 3-4 days is appropriate and for more pressing issues 24-48 hours is considered appropriate. The best follow up emails express an understanding of the person’s busy schedule and explain why a prompt answer is required.
Pick up the Phone – Avoid sending emails for discussions that are better done over the phone or face to face. Delicate conversations are not appropriate to be discussed via email, there’s nothing worse than having an email war. Further to this if you are emailing someone numerous times without achieving a desired outcome a phone call will save you time, trigger a discussion and help you get the answer you need.