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Communication Skills Articles

The Proper Use of Voice Mail and
Email Promotes Customer Service

Al Borowski, MEd, CSP, PP

Following a couple of simple ideas when contacting customers via e-mail or voice mail can help you improve your image, get better results and save time.

Sound Prepared and Professional

Have you ever received a voice mail message that sounded something like this?

"Hi, Al. This is Steve. About that 9:30 meeting we're supposed to have on Wednesday -- now wait. Is that 9:30 meeting on Wednesday or Thursday? Maybe it's 10:30. Hold it! Was that meeting with you or was that with Jennifer? Al, let me get back to you later."

Receiving confusing voice mail messages like that is common in business. To avoid sounding unprepared and maybe unprofessional, consider the following suggestions.

Use Voice Mail as a Marketing Tool

First, understand that the chances are very high in today's busy business world that you will get a voice mail message asking you to leave a message. Consider leaving a voice mail message as a time saver and a marketing tool, rather than a nuisance.

Before you call someone, jot down a quick sentence or bullet of the major reason for the call. Then, jot down up to three bullet points you would like to get across or the key question you would like to ask that person.

This helps organize your thoughts and prepares you to leave an intelligent message on someone's voice mail. This also helps when the person returns your call. The person you called has time to consider your points or preparer answers for your questions. This saves both of you time.

When you leave a voice mail message, state your full name and telephone number clearly and slowly at least twice.

Use the "Enter" Key More Often

Similar strategies apply to e-mail. Before you send an e-mail message, think through the reason for sending the message and no more than three points you need to make. Also, learn to use the "enter" key effectively.

This means an e-mail should not be a continuous string of sentences. Using the "enter" key to create white space in your message makes the message easier to read.

No paragraph in any e-mail should exceed three sentences.

The first paragraph of any mail should not exceed two sentences.

 Actually, you'll get better results with an e-mail that starts with a one sentence statement of what the message is about.

Your First Paragraph is an Executive Summary of your E-mail Message
Your first paragraph is actually an executive summary of what the e-mail contains. Then, the second, third and fourth paragraphs can detail your three points.

If you only have one thing to say, I still recommend you use a three-sentence approach.

Your first sentence (topic sentence) introduces the subject, creates interest, and becomes a reference point in multiple messages on the same subject. For example, imagine that you send an e-mail to someone that said "production schedule" in the SUBJECT line.

You might send five or six e-mails during the month about production schedules. So, your topic sentence might read something like: "I found an error in the August 8 production schedule."

Another time you might say, "I need another copy of the August 8 production schedule." Thus, your first sentence introduces the topic and the reason for the e-mail.

Your second sentence, which also could be your second paragraph, might read, "I need the production schedule to make sure I plan enough coverage that week."

Your third paragraph would be a business and rapport builder that contains those two magic words, "thank you."

Finally, average 15 words per sentence in your e-mails. This article averaged 13 words per sentence.

Notice how shorter sentences made this article easy to read. Notice that shorter paragraphs and white space helped you read the article quickly. Imagine trying to read this article as a one paragraph e-mail.

A little planning, courtesy and common sense go a long way in business communication.

Yes, please spread the word. To reprint this article in your Ezine, Newsletter or magazine click here for Reprint Guidelines.

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Al Borowski, MEd, CSP, PP
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Professor of Positivity

Connect all the Dots
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The Communication Skills involved in sales, telephone skills, customer service, presentation skillswriting business letters, listening skills, effective email  and training the trainer come together when Al Borowski helps you Connect All The Dots. Al's high energy, content-rich, fun-filled presentations help business professionals get the complete picture when they speak, listen or write.

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