When speaking with clients it can be tempting to respond with "smileys" or jokes, but there are a few guidelines you should follow to remain professional and respected:
1) Make it easy to read and understand your message
- Use complete sentences, not random unfinished thoughts.
- Do not use slang, specific terms or acronyms.
- Make your message brief and to the point. Concentrate on the subject matter.
2) Use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation
- Use a proper sentence structure in your email messages.
- Spell the name of the recipient correctly.
- Do not type your message in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS - this is considered shouting according to email etiquette rules.
- Do not type your email in all small case either - this gives the perception of a lack of education.
- Avoid using informal words.
3) Use a neutral tone of communication
- Refrain from becoming informal.
- Avoid using multiple instances of an exclamation mark (!!!) or a question mark (???).
- Do not use emoticons in business emails they look unprofessional.
- Don't use sarcasm or irony; they can be misinterpreted easily.
4) Be thoughtful and polite
- Start every email with a greeting.
- Make sure to use an appropriate salutation. Dear or Hello is acceptable. Hey/Hiya are considered too informal.
- Never forget to include a closing phrase at the end of the message, e.g. Regards, or Thank you.
- Don't hesitate to thank your recipient in case they were of help.
- Do not forward email messages without your personal comment or a short personal note; otherwise this may sound impolite.
5) Take advantage of signatures and auto-replies
- Use an email signature with your contact details. This will give your recipient more options to continue communication.
- Use the auto-reply feature when on vacation.
6) Check it twice before you send
- Check your email before sending to see if you wanted to send an attachment but forgot to include it.
- Make sure the Subject field in not empty. The subject line should reflect the main idea of the message.
- Spell-check your message before sending: a message with typos can be treated as unserious or even be ignored.
- Before clicking Send, reread your email to make sure it is not emotionally charged or impolite.
- Respond to emails within 24 hours of a business day
7) Manage your emails efficiently and respond within 24 hours of a business day