How do you sign off your emails?

February 22, 2017 § Leave a comment

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I’ve said it before but I’m saying it again because I still don’t know the answer: Do you have a standard sign-off for emails or do you vary it for each recipient?

I would guess that most of us throw out the rules if we’re emailing friends or clients we know well but what’s a good standard sign-off for anybody who falls into a more formal group. I don’t really have a ‘standard sign-off’ and am always finding reason to tailor it.

What I mean by that is that I’ll write the email in a way that Many thanks makes sense as a finishing phrase or Speak soon because both of those seem friendlier than many of the alternatives. I’ll take you through them as I see them:

Very best wishes – It sounds a bit over-sincere, I’ve decided;

Best wishes – alright but a bit stiff;

Best – manly (I can’t really explain why I’m giving it a gender but I said this was how I saw it);

All the best – old-fashioned and somehow too ‘old’ to be coming from someone of my age;

Kind regards – I’m not sure it’s ‘me’;

Warm regards – twee;

Regards – to the point. I feel fine when I receive a ‘Regards’  but signing off with one doesn’t come naturally;

Sincerely – not right for an email, not right for anything anymore – too formal;

Yours – same problem as ‘Sincerely’;

Sincerely yours  twice the problem of ‘Sincerely’ and ‘Yours’;

Take care – I like this, both for friends and for clients I know well. It’s not too personal but it’s friendly;

Love – I write that on birthday cards (because I love the person I’m sending them to. The same can’t be said for all email recipients so it’s not right.)

Name only – sometimes I sign off with just my name, particularly if we’re having an ’email conversation’ when wishes of any kind start to make the messages look clumsy. Otherwise it looks lazy unless you know the recipient well;

Initial only – rude;

Cheers – we’re doing business not buying a round;

Smiley – no;

See you soon – you probably won’t so as a generic sign-off it’s inappropriate;

Thanks for getting in touch – I like that;

Thanks so much for getting in touch – too needy;

Many thanks – a favourite but you’ve got to have something to thank the recipient for otherwise it doesn’t make sense. That’s why this blog started out with me saying I rewrite emails in order to be able to use this sign-off;

Speak soon – I also like this. If you’re emailing a client you know well you probably will speak soon. If you don’t know the client well yet, the sign-off reinforces the fact that you’re opening channels of communication.

So having run through many of the usual suspects I still haven’t found a generic sign-off I feel comfortable with. Something you might say at the end of a meeting goes towards deciding your ideal sign-off but it’s not a standalone decider because often you haven’t met the person at the receiving end of the email so the relationship is different.

Which means that even after giving the issue much thought I haven’t got anywhere with it. There will be some who will say I’m over-thinking the issue. I don’t agree. Every piece of communication goes towards your professional reputation and the way you close an email could be seen as smooth or awkward and that matters very much indeed.

Any thoughts??

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Don’t ever rely on your spellcheck

November 24, 2016 § Leave a comment

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I’m surprised I even had to write that headline – I thought everyone knew. Spellchecks are helpful – I use them as a guide – but if I left it at that, it would be corporate suicide.

I was chatting to a friend about this the other day and her reaction was: “Yes, you couldn’t afford any errors – being in the ‘words’ game.” That’s true. If I made mistakes people would be quick to point them out.

On the other hand she’s a gift retailer and her communications output is critical to her business, particularly at this time of the year when customers will be looking for Christmas presents.

She always sends an invite to a list of her customers with a message that says something like:

  • Come along for an evening of wine, mince ties and a chance to buy gifts for your nearest and dearest, hopping at leisure.

Although only something like that because it actually reads:

  • Come along for an evening of wine, mince pies and a chance to buy gifts for your nearest and dearest, shopping at leisure.

The point I’m making, is that a spellcheck wouldn’t have picked up any spelling mistakes in the first sentence because there aren’t any. The sentence just doesn’t make sense and it takes a human brain to work that out, not a computer.

In short, a spellcheck can tell you when a word is spelt incorrectly but not when it’s used incorrectly. Use it but know its limitations.

I lost faith in the offer because the copy was spelt so badly

October 10, 2016 § Leave a comment

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I want to do yoga – frankly I need to do yoga – so when a Winter sun/yoga offer plopped into my inbox it looked just ‘the thing’. I was nearly on my way to find my leggings and book my place. And then I read the copy.

Seriously?

They wanted me to believe that there were professionals at the end of this venture into yoga which, they explained, means union of “body, mint and spirit.” (Please note: this is the sort of mistake your spellcheck can never pick up because although the word’s completely wrong, the spelling’s entirely right so there’s no reason for the spellcheck to question it.)

‘Whether’ was spelt ‘Wether’, sentences were constructed inside-out and back-to-front and the punctuation thrown randomly at the copy like confetti.

This was a three-paragraph email. It’s not hard to get that right – language/writing clearly wasn’t their strength, and they should have given the job to someone who could have polished it up properly. Then more people would have actually followed through, found their leggings and booked a slot.

When I see a company can’t be bothered to spell properly, I wonder what other corners they’re cutting.

Mind your language – would-be customers will doubt your professionalism if you don’t – and you’ll do nothing for your reputation.

I want to talk to a PERSON!!!!

August 6, 2014 § 2 Comments

a9bc68e5eIf anyone has a query or a problem they can call me and I speak to them. When Bowler Hat gets a billion times bigger I’ll employ tons of receptionists and we’ll all talk to callers. We’ll be the most communicative communications company in the business.

Never – and I mean, never – will I subject my customers to machines or (and this has to be even worse) deny them telephone contact altogether. If that sounds a little antiquated I don’t care because a helpful person at the end of the phone is going to beat an automated menu of options hands-down, however old you are.

For starters…. people UNDERSTAND you and why you’re calling!!! Their pliable brains can hop all over the shop to fathom, filter and fulfil requests or sort out problems. A good old-fashioned conversation can take place so the caller can fully explain the issue at hand.

Not so with the automated voice system which goes into meltdown if the caller digresses from the menu – or, for goodness sake, hesitates for an instant. Have suffered this week trying to contact a huge and hugely well-known financial institution. The ‘voice’ didn’t know what to do with my query which didn’t slot into Options 1-6 and I didn’t know what to do with my frustration by the fifth attempt of rephrasing the question.

I’d just about recovered from that experience when a couple of days later I came up against the ‘Unfortunately we no longer offer a telephone support system’ sort of company. Would have preferred to speak to someone but, hey, I’m a writer – so took a deep breath and wrote a comprehensive email to said ‘we’d-rather-you-didn’t-contact-us’ company.

Minutes later, far too few minutes later – ping! Company replies. They’d read, it seemed, maybe three pars of the 12-paragraph letter I’d written, completely misunderstood it and explained a outrageously wrong decision with an outrageous explanation.

AAARGH!!!

I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t I put the pertinent points in the first three pars. I did, I did, I did. But it was a complicated issue and needed clarification and details.

I’m reliving the maddeningly wrist-wrenching experience as I type…but I think I’m over it now. I haven’t forgotten about it, though, have I. What this week has proved to me is that no matter the scale of the company, machines just don’t ‘do’ customer service. People do.

What worries me is this seemingly growing trend of companies putting the phone down on customers in favour of automation.

PS. At the time of writing am holding on to speak to someone at O2 and the sickly automated woman’s voice keeps telling me there’s loads of info on their website. I KNOOOOW. That’s where I got the number from but I want to talk to a person!!!!!

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