This article explains how to send effective e-mail replies. It also discusses why proper e-mail etiquette is necessary, and lists e-mail etiquette rules:
1. Always, Always, Always use a greeting.
Whatever happened to good old fashion courtesy and manners? For whatever reason, people just aren't as nice or considerate nowadays as they used to be.
For instance, I'm always amazed how many e-mails I receive that don't contain a single "hi," "hello," "good morning"-- nothing! I just don't understand why people treat e-mail so casually, because e-mail is a form of communication and is really no different than answering your telephone and saying "hello." It's just courteous thing to do.
You have to realize, people who don't know you form opinions and impressions about you, based on your e-mail communications. And if you come across as cold, rude, indifferent or unfriendly, it's a direct reflection on you and your company and it will negatively impact your business. Let's face it, we all like to do business with people we like.
Now if you're corresponding back and forth with someone several times a day, it's certainly not necessary to greet them in every single e-mail. However, your initial e-mail should always contain a greeting of some sort.
2. Be concise and to point.
Don't make an e-mail longer than it needs to be. Remember that reading an e-mail is harder than reading printed communications and a long e-mail can be very trying to read.
3. Answer all questions, and pre-empt further questions.
An e-mail reply must answer all questions, and pre- empt further questions - If you do not answer all questions in original e-mail, you will receive further e-mails regarding unanswered questions, which will not only waste your time and your customer's time but also cause considerable frustration.
4. Always reply promptly.
People send an e-mail because they wish to receive a quick response. If they did not want a quick response they would send a letter or a fax. Therefore, each e-mail should be replied to within at least 24 hours, and preferably within same working day. There's just no excuse not to be able to do that. If e-mail is complicated, just send an e- mail back saying that you have received it and that you will get back to them shortly.
5. Do not attach unnecessary files.
By sending large attachments you can annoy customers and even bring down their e-mail system. Wherever possible try to compress attachments and only send attachments when they are productive. Moreover, you need to have a good virus scanner in place since your customers will not be very happy if you send them documents full of viruses!
6. Do not write in all CAPITALS.
IF YOU WRITE IN ALL CAPITALS, IT IS CONSIDERED SHOUTING. This can be highly annoying and might trigger an unwanted response in form of a flame mail. Therefore, try not to send any e-mail text in capitals.
7. Don't leave out message thread.
When you reply to an e-mail, you must include original mail in your reply, in other words click 'Reply', instead of 'New Mail'. Some people say that you must remove previous message since this has already been sent and is therefore unnecessary. However, I disagree. If you receive many e-mails, you obviously cannot remember each individual e-mail. This means that a 'threadless e-mail' will not provide enough information and you will have to spend a frustratingly long time to find out context of e- mail in order to deal with it. Leaving thread might take a fraction longer in download time, but it will save recipient much more time and frustration in looking for related e-mails in their inbox!