Given the nature of our business, it's probably no surprise that we, like most web professionals, are Email People™. We have our smartphones attached to us all the time, we eschew actually speaking on the phone and handle 99.9% of our business via email. But, as the internet grows, and more and more previously “unconnected” people join the ranks of users, we realize that some people are just not Email People. I wouldn't call them ludites, per se, but some people feel that the phone is faster — and it can be, but can also result in unfocused chats, miscommunication or overlooked tasks because it wasn't discussed in the conference call.
So, we like email: it leaves a paper trail, allows us to reference your comments verbatim and like most creative or development professionals, it allows us to focus on work and prioritize communications for specific times during the day. Does this mean we'll never talk to you on the phone? Of course not. If a client wants to talk over the phone, we're more than happy to do so, but email is our preferrred method of communication.
That said, some folks aren't Email People™ because, well, they're simply bad at email. Their emails can be lacking in nuance, tone and common courtesy. We do our best here at Moxie to open emails with a kind greeting, to thank the emailer for their inquiry (should it be their first), to use full sentences and proper punctuation and to show respect for your clients with professional grammar and a writing style that conveys our warm and jovial personalities. We're not dry and we don't expect our clients to be.
But some emails we receive are quite terse, without any pleasantries. It's understood that email is meant to be a “speedy” method of communication, but you don't have to be a jerk about it. We don't need you to sugarcoat it, but it is possible to get your point across in a professional and cordial manner while still maintaining brevity.
We appreciate respectful communication. No need to be overly prim, just please remember that we are business owners and skilled professionals, just like you're a professional at whatever you do. We are not your kid, your neighbor, or, despite some misconceptions, your employee. We are experts in what we do or you wouldn't have hired us. We will never accept verbal abuse, unrealistic demands or blatant rudeness.
But we also don't love overly familiar interactions, either. If you're emailing us for the first time, please don't call us “honey” or “sweetums”. That actually happened. SWEETUMS. We're not on the pole here, sir.
Of course, none of our clients are like that — our clients are awesome. Why? Because we will usually ignore emails that are condescending, grossly undervalue our skillset or use netspeak, grammar and punctuation appalling enough to shock a teenager.
What we love in our emails:
- Greetings — At least for the first one. Say hello,for pete's sake! We're nice!
- Thank yous — If you ask us to do something and we do it, especially if we do it tout de suite, please respond. We don't need you to pen us a sonnet via skywriter, just a simple “Thanks!” will suffice. It can even be on Twitter.
- Acknowledgement — To that same end, if we take the time to reply to your inquiry, please hit us back with a “yay” or “nay”. We put aside client work and time with our families to read your request, to do preliminary research on your website and to formulate a thoughtful reply. We understand that we aren't going to be the designers for everyone and that perhaps our timeline/budget/moons don't align, but at the very least acknowledge our reply. Don't leave us proverbially hangin'.
- Spellcheck — We realized typos happen, we make them, too. But when your email is laden with abbreviations, netspeak or misspelled words, we are less inclined to reply or even try to figure out what you're talking about.
- Hours — We want things to be convenient for our clients, so we don't really mind if you email us on the weekends or on national holidays. But please know that we're likely not going to reply until the next available business day. We work on the internet, we aren't open 24 hours — so please don't send email after email after email on a Saturday night expecting a reply. We have families and lives and need downtime to regenerate our mojo. You wouldn't like it if someone called your house 6-8 times over the weekend , would you? For us, it's the same kind of thing.
This post was inspired by a great article I read this morning called Professional Communication 101 by Mike at BoyInk! He breaks it down much more specifically.
In conclusion, we love email. And we probably will love working with you, too.
So be nice, would ya?