Thinking about e-tiquette

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Last night Fair Go reported that 'unsolicited mail or spam is the scourge of our email inboxes' following a consumer's frustration at being targeted without subscribing for information.

I have been wondering for some time whether businesses are becoming complacent about communicating by email, even with customers' permission. I know my inbox is starting to get out of hand and even when I have requested more information I don’t necessarily want to hear from companies as frequently as I do! I'm not the only one!

Email is instant which is tempting if you are an independent business with a number of jobs to get through each day, especially if you are the business and you personally have to do all of those jobs. But just because it's instant doesn't mean it's necessarily the right communication tool for your business or your customers. In the case reported by Fair Go, we can see that if you get it wrong, maybe through lack of time, your professionalism can be called into question.

When it comes to mail we've had decades to learn caution about what we put in a letter or direct mail piece to ensure we don’t come across as 'junk'. I know I rarely receive mail that's not addressed or of interest to me.

With this wake up call I think it's time to remind ourselves of netiquette guidelines and recap on the business and professional boundaries when it comes to email. Not forgetting the law of course, you shouldn't even be emailing customers without inferred consent (the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007). But even if you can email your customers think about whether you should. Are you emailing your customers because it's easy for you, did you give them a choice to hear from you any other way?

Most of all, whether it's a letter, a phone call, a tweet or an email, always be respectful of your customers' consent to contact them, they will soon revoke it if you don't. It's the age old - treat others as you'd like to be treated yourself. The success of your company depends on how your customers perceive your business.

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