Do you frequently email your clients? Probably! Even if you only send one email per month, you still must know what to say – and more importantly, what not to say. You don’t want to risk offending or insulting your clients without meaning to, or worse, on purpose! There are certain rules of business to client etiquette as it pertains to sending emails. You have to choose your words very carefully. Here are our best tips of what NOT to say in an email to a client.
“We Don’t Do That Here.”
If a client asks for a product or service that your business does not offer or is not able to offer, don’t tell them “we don’t do that here”. That specific wording can be taken to sound like what your client has asked for is beneath you and your business. Instead, try saying something a little more positive, such as “unfortunately that is not a service we offer. Instead, we can prepare [different item] for you!”. This verbiage change can make all the difference between your client feeling turned away at the door vs your client feeling like you’ll do anything you can to help them in whatever way is possible.
You’ll try? No, you’ll do! You don’t want to sound uncertain in your abilities, as it can make the client feel like they’re dealing with someone who is unqualified to assist them. Instead of telling a customer with a request that you’ll try to help them, say something like “let’s see what we can do to assist you today”. This implies that you are doing your best without using uncertain language. It keeps things a little more positive and doesn’t run the risk of making your client feel like their request will be so difficult for you that you’re left trying to help them somehow. Remember the always famous quote – “Do or do not, there is no try”.
“We’ll Get Back to You Soon.”
Think about this sentence from your client’s point of view. When is soon? Later this evening? Tomorrow? Next week? When you feel like it? If you have to get back to your client on a specific topic later, tell them exactly (or close to it) when they can expect to hear from you. This lets them know a time frame of when their complaint or request will be handled, and they aren’t left hanging and wondering when you’re going to bother to reach out to them again. It just makes them feel a little more important to your business!
First of all, you should never yell at a client about anything! Second of all, “no” is a powerful word – in a bad way. Instead of denying a client something they are asking for, redirect their attention to something that you can offer them instead. This changes the subject to something you can actually do for them without directly denying their request or wish. A redirect is much more powerful than a full stop and it can actually make your client happier with your business than their original wish would have too.
Nobody likes to deal with an angry client, but have you ever had someone actually calm down when you order them to? Certainly not! They typically just get more upset. You want to avoid this – when dealing with an unhappy customer, you should instead acknowledge their anger. “I know you are upset about XYZ and I deeply apologize”. Your acknowledgement of their issues may make them calm down a lot quicker than ordering them to chill out will. Once they are calm, it’s probable that they will be a lot more open to whatever solution you suggest for them.
“You Don’t Want That, You Want This.”
It’s safe to say that your clients know what they want from your business and probably don’t need you to tell them that they want a different item or service, instead. Definitely don’t do this! If you really do think that there is another item or service that could suit a certain client’s needs more, you can frame your statement as a suggestion instead. Perhaps, “I’ve been looking over your file, and I believe that this may be more suited to your needs – have a look if you like!”, and then leave it alone. If your client wants to make the switch, they’ll tell you.
“That’s Not My Job.”
As far as your clients are concerned, it doesn’t matter if their problem is your job to handle or not. They just want their problems fixed, and you are someone who works for the company that they have a problem with at the moment. If their request is not something you personally are capable of handling, silently pass it on to a co-worker who is able to handle the issue instead of admonishing the client for asking the wrong person for help. This way, you provide a solution for the client without risking offending them by implying that their problem isn’t enough of an issue for you to even try to solve.
Some people just don’t have the same beliefs as you. Sure, you may be steadfast in your personal beliefs and perhaps you wish to include a saying or quote relating to your religion in your email signature – refrain! The last thing you want to do is insult or offend someone who does not share your religious beliefs. The best way to avoid this confrontation is just to keep religion out of the workplace entirely. In fact, it is considered a view that is protected from discrimination in the workplace – so stay out of legal trouble by keeping church and work separate. That is, unless you work in the business of a church!
Like with religious sayings, some people just don’t have the same beliefs that you do. People are typically extremely protective of their political and social beliefs, and are likely to do less business with you if they feel your company doesn’t stand up for what they believe in, or worse, loudly advocates for what they don’t believe in. It is just unprofessional to include political sayings in your emails to your clients, even as a quote in your email signature. Keep politics and religion outside of the workplace and your relationships with your clients will do much better. The only exception? If your business is directly related to politics – and you must talk about it with your clients or risk not having clients!
While some people are way more laid back than others, it is always a bad idea to include even what you may consider to be a “harmless” or “conversational” curse word. Even if your client is angry and cursing too, withhold yourself from doing it back – always. It makes you seem extremely unprofessional, and paints your entire business in a bad light. There is no situation where it is acceptable to talk this way to a client, no matter how long you have known them or done business with them.
In the eyes of your clients, you represent your business – some might say that you are your business. Your clients contacted you for a business related reason, so they don’t need to know any details about your personal life or anything about you outside of work. It is a great idea to be friendly with your clients, but remember that you are not friends with them. Even if you are sharing your personal experience of why you think what you sell is great, they probably don’t want to hear it.
Similar to personal matters, personal comments are comments that you make to another person about their appearance, weight, clothing, race, marital status, and more. Even if you have achieved a friendly rapport with a certain customer, you must remember that you are in the position of the “business” and they are in the position of the “client”. These roles must be respected. If you want to be your client’s friend, contact them outside of work hours.
Some clients stick around for long enough to become “regulars” that you can joke with or build a friendly rapport with. No matter what you do, don’t gossip with these “regulars” (or any client, at that!). It makes you seem like a bad friend and employee, and your business seem rife with drama. Your clients do not need to know that the boss is rude or the receptionist is dating the IT guy. They need to know about what you can offer them as a business, and how you can help them achieve their goals. Keep the gossip to yourself – in and out of the workplace, but especially with clients.
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