The secret of life isn’t what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you.
Norman Vincent Peale
Writing effective replies to professional emails is one of the most important skills you need to acquire as a good business owner, sales person or marketing personnel.
How do hope to satisfy your clients as a business owner without having to write succinct and clear replies to their emails? Or how would a salesperson or marketing personnel elaborate properly on the value of his product or service if he cannot effectively reply the email inquiries of potential clients?
Professional or business emails are neither written like letters nor text messages. They are not as long and overly formal as letters neither are they as short and overly informal as text messages.
Here, we would consider tips and guidelines for responding professionally to emails from your clients or customers.
Basic Tips for Responding Professionally to Emails in Business
1. Reply Your Professional Emails Promptly
In business, time is critical. If you just wait till you can reply instead of first acknowledging emails, you stand the risk of portraying yourself as an unserious businessperson. Besides, always bear in mind that your clients will be glad to know what is happening on the other side of the web – whether you have seen their email or not.
2. Acknowledge Emails You Receive
Ensure you acknowledge every business email you receive as soon as you can. If you can’t reply immediately, let your recipient know when you will be able to reply.
Sometimes you require more time to think or prepare the documents you need to send. When this happens, let your reader know you have seen the mail and would get back to them soon.
You can respond with:
Dear Mrs. Obama,
Thank you for a swift response. I shall get back to you shortly.
That is an excellent way to let your clients or partners know you take them very seriously.
3. Answer Questions First
Additionally, when responding to professional emails, first respond to the questions in the email before passing on fresh information.
It is better to answer them stepwise or start with the first issue to the last. Also, you should answer each question with a short paragraph.
If necessary, you may have to quote what part of the email you are responding to.
Basic Guidelines for Responding Professionally to Emails in Business
Here are the basic things you have to take note of:
a. Greet Your Client or Prospect Respectfully
Depending on the type of business you do and the previous relationship between you two, choose a courteous way to address your client whenever you are writing a professional email. It is quite normal to get so passionate that you send an email without greeting the recipient, but that’s not nice.
Your address sets the tone of the email. It determines whether it is cordial, serious or casual.
You can begin a professional email with ‘Dear Ms. Williams’ or ‘Dear Ruth’ depending on your relationship and previous communication with the person.
‘Dear Ruth’ is okay for someone you have already developed a form of relationship with and can call by the first name. However, ‘Dear Ms. Williams’ is a more appropriate address for people you are contacting for the first time.
In some cases, you can begin with,
‘Hello James,' ‘Hi Jude,' ‘Hey Elizabeth,' ‘Dear Ayo,' ‘Dear Mrs. Margaret’, etc. If you don’t know the recipient’s name, you can use ‘Dear Sir,' ‘Dear Ma,' ‘Hello’ etc.
In the end, you should always aim at making the communication more cordial after the first few interactions. After a while of continuous communication, you should address each other by first names.
b. Introduce your Emails Cheerfully
In responding to professional emails, it is always nice to open with a compliment.
Thanks for a swift response’ or ‘I appreciate the detailed explanation you gave.
Replying emails warmly and professionally puts your reader in a good mood to answer your questions or requests and shows you are business-minded. Even when you receive a nasty email, you must write professionally in your response.
I advise that you do not respond to rude emails right away. Take a break to ensure that you are acting as intended and not reacting to the contents of the email.
When writing a new email, you can introduce yourself warmly by stating where you met the person previously or where you got the email address.
c. Be Concise and Informative in Your Email Body
This means you should avoid unnecessary explanations. Use the fewest words with the fewest letters in the smallest paragraph to convey your message.
Remember the words of Albert Einstein
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex … it takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction”
Professional Emails are not formal letters and should not be excessively long. They are neither text messages, so they should not be meatless.
Remember, email recipients are eager to know what you have written but do not have the luxury of time to read through unnecessarily long emails. To simplify the reading of your email, use one paragraph for each point and use bullets for lists.
Write the information with little or just enough explanation to help your reader understand. Avoid using abbreviations like ‘U’, ‘HTH’,’ASAP’, and avoid colloquial English also.
Read over your emails before hitting ‘Send’ or ‘Reply.' Always bear in mind that once the message is sent, it cannot be modified. Check carefully for grammatical errors before sending a professional email.
Again, remember the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away…”
In fact, being concise shows that you value the time of your client, and you will send other emails with the same courtesy.
That’s the same reason you should respond to professional emails in time.
d. Conclude Your Emails Enthusiastically
Confidence breeds attraction and respect. When you end your emails with the confidence that your client or prospect will respond favorably, you have already set success in motion.
So, finish professional emails with expectation, and let it be a good one. If you expect a response, state it. For example.'
I look forward to your response.
Otherwise, just conclude the email such that your reader does not need to reply you if you don’t need an answer.
e. Sign off Warmly
How you sign off an email is important. It often reflects your personality.
Unlike in letters where most people sign off with ‘Yours faithfully’, email sign-offs are usually more cordial. You can sign off with expressions like:
‘Best regards,' ‘Warm regards,' ‘Sincerely,' ‘Thanks again,' ‘Cheers’ etc
Also, ‘Best Wishes’, ‘Best’, ‘Warmly’, ‘Sincerely’, ‘Yours truly’, etc. are also excellent ways to sign off a professional email.
Include your name, emails address and website, and phone number so that your client or prospect will be able to contact you immediately if necessary.
f. Use a Professional Email Signature
Your email signature is not just for the professionalism of your email. It is a primary contact tool.
You can use something like,
CEO, Africa Entertainment Inc.
Remember always to use pre-written e-mail templates (canned responses) for frequently sent messages, and avoid attaching unnecessary files or using capital letters. Before writing your message, always ensure you are writing to or replying who you intend to email by checking the email address field carefully.
I learnt a lot! Thanks!
what is the ideal font to use?
Thanks for your question Iyke. It will help others.
Research reveals that Arial and Helvetica are bad fonts because they are less legible. Instead, Georgia or Verdana can be used because they are more legible. You can read more at Bloomberg here – https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-27/your-e-mail-font-is-ruining-your-life
Can I use ‘hey’ for someone I know in business emails?
Great question Iyke!
How you start your emails is very important as it contributes to the effectiveness of your email. It shows if you gave enough thought to that email.
All the words in the email opener require due attention!
The best ways to open emails professionally are “Dear Mrs. Stone”, “Greetings” or “Dear Steve” (for business recipients that you know personally), etc
For colleagues and much closer people, you are free to use “Hello [first name]” e.g. “Hello Stella”, “Hey Stella”, etc
Other ways you can start business emails are “Good Morning Stone”, “Good Day Steve”, etc.
For multiple recipients, you are free to use “Greetings All”, “Good Day Team”, “Dear Stella, Steve, and James,” or “Dear Miss Stella, Dr. Steve, and Mrs. Stone, ”
You should avoid informal greetings like “Hey there”, “Hi”, or “What’s up” in professional emails. More so, it is bad if you omit greetings altogether. It’s like entering a house without knocking.
Another common error in professional emails is misspelling the name of the email recipients. I usually copy the names of my recipients when writing business emails instead of typing it out so that I can avoid this problem.
I hope this helps.
Thank you so much. This is so educative