Editor’s Corner: The Importance of E-Mail Etiquette

Jun 15, 2011

I recently asked a shop owner if he received the weekly Hotrod & Restoration  e-newsletter. When he told me he didn’t, I told him to simply go on the HRR website, click on the e-news sign-up on the right-hand side of the page, enter his information and he’d get it delivered to his inbox box every Wednesday.

He told me he only checks his e-mail once every three weeks or so. This totally blew me away, especially after he also said maybe he should check it because he was waiting on an answer from one of his customers. Not responding to a customer not only disappoints that customer and potentially leaves money on the table, but also could cause that person to go to your competitor’s shop.

We don’t sell hamburgers at a truck stop here, we’re in a people business and if we don’t consistently invest in the relationships with our customers, someone else will. This is really more or less a simple customer service and communication thing, but it does bring up some thoughts about e-mail. It seems more and more that e-mail is the preferred method of communication. However, it shouldn’t be a replacement for verbal conversation.

Remember that e-mails are surprisingly permanent and stay around much longer than a piece of paper. E-mail also doesn’t come with the same facial expressions, gestures or intonations found in verbal communication, so a written phrase can often be misinterpreted.

It’s become so common to replace that verbal communication with e-mail because it seems quicker. It’s only quicker to the one sending it because they don’t have to have a dialog.

However, the response is the slow part. How many times has it happened to you that someone says, “I e-mailed you a while ago and haven’t heard anything back yet”? That’s the problem with e-mail. The recipient can open it at their leisure and respond when they want to. Often when it doesn’t seem urgent, the e-mail is saved as new and will sit in the recipient’s inbox for a while.

I think we’ve all had our e-mail lessons. I know I have, but here are some simple things that I try to live by when it comes to sending and receiving e-mail:

  • Never get in an e-mail war. It’s too easy to let it get out of hand when you’re not face-to-face.
  • Never e-mail when you’re upset.
  • Make a point to check e-mail often since it’s quickly becoming the preferred method of communication.
  • If you’re sending something important, have someone else look it over before you send it.
  • Avoid responses like “Thanks” or “Will do,” as those types of e-mails only clog up an already full inbox.
  • Delete anything that isn’t necessary.
  • Always be relevant, to the point and polite.
  • Always let the recipient know what the e-mail is pertaining to in the subject line.
  • Don’t type in all capital letters, it’s considered shouting.
  • Don’t over-use punctuation marks; they have a powerful meaning in e-mails.
  • Don’t ever send an e-mail when you expect an immediate response. If it’s that important, pick up the phone and call them.

We at Hotrod & Restoration are here to be the medium for sharing best practices so we can all have a better industry.