Rate Your e-Tiquette

I am flummoxed. (Great word, huh?) Lately I have come in contact with several businesses and individuals who have very rude e-mail etiquette. The biggest complaint that I have is a lack of response.

Maybe I’m alone here, but I feel like if I send an e-mail and receive no response, it’s kind of like shouting in the abyss. In fact, it’s kind of like writing a blog…with no comments. You have no idea whether anyone is reading you or not.

When you send an e-mail and get NOTHING in response, how do you know it was received? How do you know the little Internet gremlins did not steal into your outbox and delete that message before it reached its destination?

How is YOUR e-tiquette? I am going to define a few key areas, and ask you to give yourself a grade. If you do not score high marks, it may be time to take a look at your e-behavior and make some changes to make sure that you are not losing clients or mistreating your vendors.

1. RECEIVING COMPLAINTS — Last week, I sent an e-mail to a cleaning company to tell them why I would no longer be using its services. I was respectful and very specific. That was five business days ago and I have yet to receive any kind of response, or even an acknowledgment that my message was read.

If you receive this kind of e-mail from a client or prospect, it is very important that you very quickly acknowledge it, thank them for their candor, and apologize for the incident. Of course, the next step would be to take action, if necessary, and report that back to the client when appropriate.

Rate yourself: How quickly do you respond to complaint e-mails?

  • 3 points for “within 24 hours”
  • 2 points for “within 48 hours”
  • 1 point for “when I can get to it”

— As salespeople, we often have call to work with another vendor or partner, and often that can include a request for a quote. When you receive that quote, it is only considered polite to respond with a quick “Got your quote. Thanks, we’ll let you know by xx/xx/xxxx.”

Now working as a consultant, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include client recovery, retention and acquisition, and marketing communications projects.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league.

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  • JPK

    Nice job, Kelly. I think you’re a 10.

  • Cathie

    Couldn’t agree more with this article!

  • Linda

    Such could points to remember! Thanks – I came in at 8

  • Mike Alguire

    Great read Kelly. NO blog should go unread…so I posted this response to let you know that I do indeed read eveything you’ve blogged. Keep up the good work friend.

  • April

    This is so true. It seems some people lose their manners (or their minds) when they get behind a keyboard. Every email is a business letter, and that little piece after the "@" is your company’s letterhead. People would do well to treat it that way.

  • James

    Hey, I read it. Just lettin ya know :)

  • DGPS


    Once again you’re right on the money!

    What I have never understood about the lack of response

    Having complete access with today’s technology gives
    no one the excuse not to reply to an email. People eat,
    sleep and drink with smart phones in their hand.

    In fact, I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked into
    the men’s room at the airport and guys are reading emails
    while standing at the urinals.

    These same people will spend hours on Facebook, Twitter,
    LinkedIn, or some other social media site but can’t seem to
    find two minutes to reply to your email?

    Unfortunately, many sales people are hesitant to keep sending
    follow up emails to the slow responders due to the fear of sounding
    totally desperate.

    The bottom line is just reply.

    If you’re not interested, just say no!
    If you don’t like the price, tell them what you want to pay!
    If you’re not happy with the answer, ask another question!
    If you’re too busy, just say so! But answer as soon as possible!

    Again – JUST REPLY!

    As a business owner, I know how important communication
    can be. I make it a point to return each and every email the
    same day, after hours or not. If I don’t have the answer, I let
    them know that as well.

    I would not have the customers that I do without the response!


  • Rich

    Kelly – Thanks for this concise and succinct article. As salespeople and professionals, it is important to remember that we are in the business of communicating. There is enough depersonalization (is that a word?) in today’s world. Responding to emails is the same as responding to phone calls. Be prompt and courteous! It is a reflection of you and the company that you represent.