We have an online form for people to contact us and people use it for a lot of things – asking questions about collections, querying their membership, info about events and so much more. The query comes through to us as an email and we usually respond to the user with an email (if they provide an address).
And generally email is a straightforward method of communication, but sometimes it requires some thought before submitting a reply. The problem with email and this is when you use it for any form of communication, is that you don’t have tone of voice and body language to help you receive the message in its right context.
Therefore, what could be a straight-to-the-point message to one person, could be taken as rude by someone else. And as some of our email communications are on touchy topics like claims returned items, overdue fines and outstanding bills, it is very important to ensure that you do everything you can with the printed word to make sure you get your message across the best way possible.
This means spelling things out more than you may need to in other forms of communication, or being extra friendly and helpful. Its hard to give a template on what to do, because each communication is as individual as the person sending it. I have found that taking the extra time to get it right can make a big difference to the quality of the transaction.
And of course, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how well you articulate the message, some people are going to take offence anyway, but that is no different to any other form of communication.
We can only do the best that we can do.