Hi, I’m Mark, the editor of Counterman. Yes, my face is on this page, it’s on the website. I’ve written many times in this space, so you might think you have a notion of who I am and what I’m about. These notions may or may not be accurate.
I get many emails from readers, most of which start out cordially, where the person sending the email tells me who they are and begins the message with something like, “Hello Mark.”
Then, there are others. The others who, in corresponding with me, someone who writes frequently about customer service, address me in a way that I’d hope they’d never address a customer.
One such email I received began like this: “Really???” (Yes, three question marks.)
The person then went on to ask me a question, in a way that you know they’re not really looking for an answer. They just wanted to vent. Venting is fine; venting is good. But the manner in which someone vents speaks volumes about their character.
Rather than begin the email with, “Dear Mark, I just wanted to let you know…” they began with an adversarial tone, one that immediately put me on the defensive. Can’t help it. I’m human. My question: Does this person speak or correspond with customers like this? Colleagues? If so, I would never do business with them again.
Firstly, I’ve never met this person. I’ve never corresponded with this person. But somehow, somewhere, this person thought it was appropriate to open an email and address me in a tone that was equivalent to spitting in my drink. Perhaps if one of my friends, who had me as his best man in his wedding, started an email like that, I’d cut him some slack. After all, the guy knows me.
Why is all this important? Because increasingly, sales aren’t all being made on the phone. Many are done through messaging, such as email or other online platforms where the “tone” of a message is more important than ever. (I know someone who accepts orders through messaging on his Skype account.)
In an electronic message, you can’t see a person’s facial expression. You don’t know entirely what the intended intonation of a message is. In fact, in an email, words aren’t just part of the message, they’re everything.
Most of what we convey in conversing with someone, say, in person, is done through non-verbal communication and cues. Are your hands on your hips? Are you rolling your eyes? Or is your posture relaxed, signaling that you’re open to conversation? Strip away all of that and try to have a conversation only through words in an email and you run the risk of the electronic version of a gunfight.
It all comes down to common courtesy.
Remember the saying, “Do unto others…”?
Would you appreciate receiving an email that begins, “Really???”
If you wouldn’t, don’t send it.