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PI Customer Service: Email Etiquette

email etiquette for private investigatorsEven if you haven’t heard any complaints about your emailing style, there’s still a chance that you are violating an email etiquette rule or two. It might not seem like a big deal, but sometimes potential customers or other industry professionals judge a private investigator by his or her sent messages. 

The best way to avoid making a bad impression is to ensure that you and your staff are on the same page about your policies for business-related emails. To help you recognize and correct any email errors you or your colleagues may be making, we have compiled this list of 10 common email etiquette violations. Don’t feel bad - most of us have been guilty of these at some point!

  1. Unprofessional email address 
    Using [email protected] as your address probably won’t leave a favorable impression with your email’s recipient. Your best option is to have a business email address with the same extension as your private investigator website (e.g., [email protected]). At the very least, choose a professional address such as [email protected] 
  2. Cluttered signature block
    Some people clutter their signature block with images, quotes, wild fonts and other unnecessary items. Make it easy for people to find your contact information in your email signature by sticking to a format similar to this:

    NAME
    COMPANY NAME
    ADDRESS
    CITY, STATE, ZIP

    PHONE
    FAX
    EMAIL
    WEBSITE 
  3. Hitting reply-to-all more than necessary
    If someone sends you and a group of others an email, only hit “reply to all” if your response truly needs to be seen by everyone. If you want your response to be private or you are only replying with a few words, spare everyone else the hassle of checking their inbox and only reply to the sender.
  4. Writing a novel
    Your email should be fairly short and to the point. You will lose the recipient’s attention if you don’t clearly state your objective right away, or if you stray from your objective. If your message includes many different thoughts or involves coordinating a group of people, you might be better off using a phone call to convey your message.
  5. Error-filled messages
    Spelling or grammar errors look unprofessional, and wording your thoughts incorrectly can lead to confusion or even bigger problems. Take a couple of minutes to self-edit your email before you hit “send.”
  6. Sharing too much
    Keep in mind that the email you send can be saved, forwarded and generally shared with people who you might not want seeing it. Think twice before sending sensitive information, angry messages, off-color jokes or anything else that might be detrimental if it fell into the wrong hands. Also, if you don’t want everyone on the email chain to see each other’s addresses, use the “Bcc” function to keep this information hidden.
  7. Delayed responses
    If someone sends you an email and needs a quick response, don’t leave them hanging. Even if you just send them a sentence or two saying you will respond later, at least the other person will know you received their message.
  8. Indiscriminate forwarding
    Almost all of us have that one friend, relative or co-worker who forwards every single email to us - whether it’s an important message or a video of a cat hanging from a ceiling fan. This practice eats away at people’s time and elevates their stress level when they see a full inbox waiting for them. Make sure you only forward important messages.
  9. Vague or misleading subject line
    If your subject line says something like “Hi John” as opposed to “Request for XYZ forms,” chances are that your message might not be read as quickly. Your subject line should state exactly what you’ll be discussing in the email.
  10. Additional email mistakes
    • Writing in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS or no capital letters
    • Using emoticons such as :-) and :-*
    • Using internet slang such as LOL, TTYL, ROFL, OMG 
    • Excessive punctuation!!!?!!!
    • Crazy colors and fonts
    • Animated images

If any of these mistakes sound familiar to you, you can run through this checklist with each message you send for a while. And if you know anyone who has email problems, we encourage you to email the link to this article to them.

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