PracticeAccounting FirmsThe Practitioner: It’s been emotional!

The Practitioner: It's been emotional!

Getting an email in the right tone for a client can be a nightmare. Getting your staff to get them in the right tone can be a nightmare of an entirely different order

AS I HAVE written in the past, emails and I have a love hate relationship.

I love the fact that I can communicate easily with clients and contacts all over the world in a split second. But I hate the fact that I get too many of them every day.

I have discovered another fault with emails however that has proved itself to be dangerous recently – they can easily be taken in the wrong context.

We have a partner in the office who writes emails almost in some kind of old fashioned telegraph style language; very short and to the point. He never uses pleasantries or greetings, and rarely even uses the recipient’s name.

Some of the newer, younger staff have come to me and asked if they have done something to upset him. I merely tell them not to worry; it is just his way of writing emails.

I think he even types with one finger, as if he is prodding at the keyboard in anger! I have told the staff to make sure that in email replies back to him they should be doubly nice, lay it on thick, just to see if it triggers him into being pleasant.

It rarely does. Another example of how emails can cause upset is just this last week I wrote one to a manager of one of the offices while I was having a bad day. I was ranting to her about a client who is currently giving us a hard time, not paying his bill, being slow to return paperwork, not responding to queries etc.

I emailed her a “wish list” of how I wanted the client to behave and what I want us to do about him. The manager read it as an action list of what I wanted her to talk to the client about, so she then proceeded to email the client requesting all the things on my ‘wish list’ be adhered to.

Within five minutes of her sending the email the client was on the phone expressing his disgust at our requests for him to pay up or leave, and for him to change his bookkeeper – who just so happens to be his wife.

I might set up a company policy that all emails need to have emoticons on them so there can be no misunderstanding about their tone.

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