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Boss, your company email habits are driving your customer away. Here's why.

If you are a business owner, I invite you to review your email communication styles and habits. Some of them are making your brand look inauthentic and are quietly annoying your clients.

Unfortunately, your style has also now become a standard for the rest of your team. Change them before your clients change vendors.

Let's start with these four bad habits.

1. Starting your emails with old-fashioned pleasantries.

It is uncommon for emails to starts off with “Hope this email finds you well”. Especially when the person have not corresponded with me for some time.

That line and variations of it reminds me of a time when letter writing was a thing. Back then letters were slow and infrequent but important. Today, emails are functional, fast and fleeting. We all want the sender to get to the point quickly. Starting a work related email message with formal pleasantries serves no purpose other than wasting recipient’s energy reading them.

Why be inauthentic when what you really want is to build rapport with your clients.

Why not do this instead:

It is much better to be real. If you have not corresponded for some time, start with:

“Dear Dean,

We have not communicated in a long while. I am emailing you because….”

Then get on with the message, please. I have other emails to catch up on.

Or this:

Hi Dean,

“Happy Tuesday” (or whatever day it is)

It doesn’t matter how long we have not corresponded. The email starts happily. I like it.

It also reminds me that any day can be a happy day. You don’t have to wait for the weekend to be happy.

2. Using template sign-offs that mean nothing

An automated “Best regards” and “Warm wishes” at the end of every email doesn't really give a pleasant end to your message because we all know it’s automated. It just sounds silly if not insincere. Think about it. If you have to automate pleasantries, it probably means you don't need to include them in the first place.

This becomes worse when the ongoing correspondence is tensed because of, say, a misunderstanding. You are saying something aggressive. Then you end it with a “best regard”. I had more than one experience like this. The email went back and forth with my vendor trying to defend himself. Oddly, every email ends with, “Have a joyful day”. Seriously?! It just came across as sarcastic, which only added to my building frustrations.

Then there are other pointless sign-offs like, “Thank you”. What are you thanking me for when I did not do anything for you. Increasingly, I am starting to see “BR” at the end of emails. You are telling me that you really didn't want to wish me "best regards", but for some reason, you had to. So an abbreviation of it is better than nothing. Oh dear!

Why not do this instead:

Configure your email to auto-include your sign off for the first email only. Ideally, it should be just your contact details. You can sign off with a "best regards" or one of its variations for the first email. After that, please, for the sake of sincerity, just end it with -(your name) to indicate an end of your message.

For example,

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.

- Dean

It’s simple, functional and honest.

3. Assuming that your abbreviation is understood by everyone.

ETA, BTW, frens and other phone texting norms are starting to creep into our email conversations. Don’t assume it is something everyone understands. You might also be using expressions and slangs common to you without much thought. Non-native English speakers have frequently complained that they don’t understand these slangs. It shows that you are not very sensitive to their needs. All these only lead to greater miscommunications.

Why not do this:

It is time we think a little more about our multicultural work environment. When it comes to group emails, especially with multinational recipients, it is best to use phrases in long form and refrain from using slangs. Check your language.

One powerful language checker that I recommend is Grammarly. I have been using it for some time, and it ensures that all my writing materials are proofread and ready to go. Now, Grammarly even has plugins for apps and social media platforms to make sure that we always put forward messages with good grammar.

4. Relying on stock phrases meant for signage and not for conversations.

Emails are conversations. Just like texting on your phones, only longer and more formal. If there was a misunderstanding or miscommunication in a conversation, you don’t (verbally) tell the other party, “Sorry for the inconvenience caused.” So why do it on email?

We see such phrases only on signage. It is not meant for conversations. It sounds thoughtless, insincerely and absolutely pointless. On a few occasions, I have shown my frustration in my email to customer service staff for many annoying reasons. Instead of just apologising like a human would, they could only offer me the stock phrase “Sorry for the inconvenience caused”.

Think about it. How is your client's frustration an inconvenience? They are human therefore they feel. It's natural.

Why not do this:

Why not just apologise for the frustration caused. “I’m sorry this process is causing you frustration,” will go further towards calming the annoyed client and resolving the issue at hand than a thoughtless template message.

Better still, pick up the office phone, and start using the call function. A quick conversation can diffuse a backlog of miscommunication. Let’s start believing in the power of verbal communications again.

In conclusion,

You might be thinking that these points I have raised are no big deal. After all, they seem like common email habits. If you want your business to be seen as authentic and build good rapport with your clients, you should never rely on the power of collective stupidity.

For your comments:

What other email habits annoy you? What are the remedies?

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