You’ve probably figured out by now that most of my interaction with customers happens via email. And if you’ve ever interacted with customers that way, you know that emails can be notoriously tricky to convey tone.
In a typical conversation, we get about half of our cues from tone, inflection, and body language. The same sentence can be said two different ways with two totally different implications. I remember being at a store in the mall once and overhearing two girls shopping. “You’d look great in that!” was said on multiple occasions with two entirely different tones to convey if the girl would look great or if it looked horrible.
With emails, I don’t have that luxury. It’s only the words on the screen that I have to work with.
You have to nail every single word in an email.
The best example of this one is the idea behind “appreciate”. We’re bombarded every day with “customer appreciation”, “we appreciate your business”, “I appreciate you sharing that”, etc. That constant over-use leads many of us to be jaded with the word in any context.
However, I know people who I can genuinely use the word “appreciate” with. Just the other day, I had a friend look over an idea I had. Over a text chat, I said, “I really appreciate you sharing those ideas with me.” I truly did appreciate it and since we talk each day, I could convey that over text and it not sound cheesy or insincere.
But over email with a customer I’ve never talked to before, I could never use that phrase. Believe me, I’ve tried and each time, the customer let me know that it felt cheesy, like it was part of some script or automated reply.
So I dropped it in favor of just saying “thanks for…”. That simple tweak worked a ton better. Gone was the perceived robotic feel. In it’s place, customers pointed out that they felt it was more honest and open.
When you go to reply to an email, remember to choose your words carefully. Look for ways that a customer could read them wrong or interpret them differently. The cleaner and more concise you can get your reply, the better your conversation with that customer is going to be.
Looking for some other tweaks to make your emails cleaner and better? Check out my entirely free Brief Guide to a Better Email. You’ll be writing better emails before the day is out.