Our new parent company, Evalueserve, is highly dependent on email for internal and external communications. They also hire every year hundreds of recent graduates (particularly in India, China, and Chile) who are usually not familiar with the protocols of business communication via email. The guidelines below, crafted by my Evalueserve colleague Ramakrishnan M., provide guidelines from which many other companies would likely benefit. All new employees at Evalueserve/Circle of Experts are asked to hold by these rules.
Corporate Email Guidelines
— Ensure that the “To” and “CC” boxes are left blank, while typing the mail content, so that the message is not sent accidentally. Type the client’s mail ID the only after the mail has been written, QCed and accepted.
— It is best to avoid BCCs in business mails.
— Maintain Protocol for “CCs”, i.e., first mention the Client name, and then salesperson name.
— Provide a Subject. The subject should be brief and to the point.
— Ensure that the subject is changed appropriately when replying to old mails
— Mention the project charge code in the subject of status updates/deliverables/call
summaries etc to the client. This is very important from a tracking perspective. Going forward, please follow the nomenclature given below:
o Evalueserve Deliverable, June 9, 2005 – XYZ-US-B-001 – Brief Project Title
o Evalueserve Call Summary, June 9, 2005 – XYZ-US-B-001 – Brief Project Title
o Evalueserve Status, June 9, 2005 – XYZ-US-B-001 – Brief Project Title
— Mails should start with “Hi XYZ,” (including the comma)
o Choose “Hello”, if the client is based in Europe or if the relationship is more formal
o You could also write “Hello Mr. Last Name” if you do not know the person too well and wish to be extra formal
o The best way to decide how to address the client is to follow the way he/she addresses us
— Provide a suitable reference or background/context (This is with reference to your mail dated …)
— Please categorize all the points into appropriate buckets
— Use “bold” , “italics”, etc. to highlight important points or headings/topics . Avoid using CAPITAL LETTERS. This is considered as angry/rude/arrogant.
— Ensure that the subject matter is MECE (Mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive)
— Be crisp, and to the point
— Especially be clear about action points due from the client’s side, as well as from Evalueserve side
— Broadly, all project-related mails should cover the objective of the project, the work done, clarifications needed, plan of action, and red flags (if any).
— Follow the Evalueserve template for guidance on how to categorize sub-sections in the email
— Use standard Evalueserve bullets
— Avoid full stops at the end of bullet-points if it is not a complete sentence
— Avoid contractions, such as “let’s” , “pls” -use full forms “let us” , “please” etc.
— Be extra careful when copy/pasting from multiple mails
o Select all the text, make the font “Arial, 10” with color “automatic” or “black”
o Ensure all signatures (from others) have been removed in the final mail
— Always propose a tentative solution when you need to get the client’s go-ahead; Let him/her get back with an alternative way, if need be
o This way you show that you are thinking on your feet
o You are not sitting idle, waiting for the client to hand-hold you
o This is applicable to time for a conference call as well – always propose a tentative time [preferably several]. Please be sure to add conference bridge details
— Avoid any form of ambiguity. Indicate concrete time (date, time, with time zone) for all deliverables
o If possible, avoid EoD (“End of Day”) India Standard Time; this does not tell the client much (especially if he hopes to work on it). Instead, write 09:00 PM IST
o Monday (June 06, 2005) – no “early next week” or “Monday” or anything incomplete
o 06:00 PM CET – Be clear about timeframes. For assistance, use http://www.timeanddate.com/
o Even if the client uses wrong terms (EST instead of EDT, for instance), be sure that you use the appropriate term
— Use your discretion on whether to reply to old mails or start new mails
o If client’s chain/previous comments need to be referred, use the old chain
o If it is a fresh mail/deliverable, start afresh
o Please be very careful that no internal mail exchanges are sent
across unless necessary
— Mails should end with “Thanks and regards,” or “Best regards,” (including the comma)
— Ensure that your signature (with updated extension number) is included
— Ensure every aspect of the signature is consistent with the Evalueserve standard
— Mention your first name at the end (even though the signature is right below that)
Last, but not the least
— Ensure that you run a spell-check before delivery –
please activate automatic spell check option in your Outlook configuration.
— Ensure that you read the mail twice before sending. Think critically and revise suitably. Check not only the grammar and spelling aspects, but also the tone. Ensure that you don’t sound rude.
— Ensure that you check and confirm that the document attached is the right one . If it is a spreadsheet deliverable, ensure you have brought the cursor to the beginning of each page using ‘Control+Home’ combination. Also, the document should be saved with the cover page active, so that it opens with that page when the client receives it.