Customer Relationship Management: How NOT to Communicate via Email
Most of us wouldn't cite email as our favorite thing on the hundreds of things we have to manage as business owners. However, email is generally the only way we communicate with our customers and clients. And it should be given some consideration.
How often have you sent an email and then patiently waited for a reply. Days pays and it turns to not-so-patiently. So you start your follow-up email...
Dear ______, Since I never heard back from you...
While the intent may be innocent-you are after all just trying to incite a reply to your original email-it can have negative side effects. In my decade of being in business, I've found that people don't like being called out on things. So this sort of email is telling someone in a very indirect (possibly passive aggressive way) that they failed to do something. Again, you may have had good intentions, but it can shame your customer or make them feel inferior. Not a great way to handle your customers!
You'll find that perhaps things will start moving from here, but it will be after an apology or defensive statement.
Guys, we all have enough to beat ourselves up over! Instead try writing them something kind that won't produce guilt. Don't place blame anywhere. In fact, you take responsibility! Try opening with 'our communications seemed to have dropped up, perhaps I missed an email?' This is a much softer tone. It doesn't incite guilt, shame or anger in your customer.
It would also benefit you to consider if the roles were reversed. Do you respond to others in a timely manner? Are you courteous and gracious in your replies? Manage expectations by setting auto-responders that tell people exactly when they can expect a reply from you. You don't want to be sending apology emails filled with defensive excuses either.
We can all use more compassion and grace in our lives. So let's extend the same to others starting with our email communications! Teach others how you would also like to be treated. Manage your customer relationships by setting proper expectations and being a communication role model. You'll be amazed at the kindness and graciousness that comes back to you.