Email Is Dangerous

Email Is Dangerous

Email Is DangerousEven though our online store publishes a toll-free number on every page of our website, we still find that most people prefer to communicate by email before and after a sale.

Email definitely has advantages, but we’ve found that it can present so many potential problems that you need to use special care with your messages to avoid misunderstandings and bad word of mouth.

For all of your business and personal email, we recommend that you always start by following one primary rule.

First Rule of Email:

Never write anything in any email that you wouldn’t want the whole world to see.

Because email creates a permanent record that can be forwarded to anyone on the Internet, it’s important to write only clear, courteous messages that reflect positively on you and your company. People we don’t know have published excerpts of our emails online, so we’ve learned that every sentence we write, even if taken out of context, must sound positive and professional.

Here are some other guidelines for writing customer emails.

  • Say something positive to start. Even if it’s only to say thank you or we’re sorry, setting the right tone will encourage readers to give you the benefit of the doubt as they read your text.
  • Put action items very near the beginning. If you need, say, for a customer to provide more information, make your request within the first few lines to improve the odds that it will be read.
  • Be as brief as you possibly can, while taking care to fully answer all of the customer’s questions.
  • Say that your company will take responsibility for any problem without blaming suppliers or individuals, using the word “we” instead of “I” whenever possible to help your company look bigger than you are.
  • Don’t assume that a person is combative just because their email sounds harsh. The tone of email is difficult to control when writing, and even harder to interpret when reading. If an email sounds argumentative, consider responding with a helpful phone call. Regardless of how you follow up, be prompt and polite.

It’s perfectly OK to monitor your business inbox by forwarding messages to a personal web mail account (like Gmail or Yahoo!) but you should only reply using the company email account provided by your web host.

Email Scams

Be on the lookout for email scams, of course. Fraudsters constantly evolve their tactics, and as noted in our story about keeping your money safe, it’s essential to treat all email links and attachments with utmost suspicion, even if the message appears to be from someone you know.

As your business grows, you’re likely to encounter one especially annoying email scam that starts with an innocent sounding product inquiry. Often the message is poorly written, and the writer might use a web mail account with a common, domestic sounding name.

Once you reply to that first inquiry, you’re likely to get an urgent request for pricing on a large quantity of your product. You also might get the feeling that the writer is copying text from your website with no idea what your product does. These are clues that you could be dealing with a fraudster. A Google search for that email address might reveal that others have seen similar requests from that account. If so, stop the communication right away.

What’s Next?

As your online business grows you’ll need to balance the demands of your day job with your new business. We’ll talk more about this topic in the next article about moonlighting tips.

Next: Moonlighting Tips

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