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Every business thrives or fails based on its relationship with its clients. Treat clients and customers with respect and they’ll shout your name from the rooftops, recommend you to family and friends, and give you a big virtual hug in the form of more sales. Treat them poorly and you’ll have a bad time. The internet moves faster than the speed of thought, and you could see any negative relationships with consumers played out online—and no-one wants that.

When it comes to creating happy clients, communication is everything. While plenty of communication can take place via social media, interactive chat, over the phone, or via other means, the humble email still has its place. Here’s the SaneBox Scoop on creating better customer relationships through email.

General guidelines on emailing a client
Here’s what you should be doing in all your client emails.

  • State exactly what you’re emailing about in the subject line—don’t make the client think. Use a clear, concise subject line to let them know what to expect when opening the email.
  • Use the proper greeting—depending on your relationship with the client, get your salutation right. If it’s an ongoing, friendly relationship, first names are fine. If it’s not, it’s best to use their tile and last name.
  • Never use a generic greeting— please, don’t ever write to “Dear client” or something similar, and don’t just start an email with “hey.” It looks lazy, and you don’t want to look lazy.
  • Get to the point quickly—hardly anyone has ever said “I want to spend more time reading and responding to email.” Do yourself and your client a favor and get to the point quickly.
  • But don’t be impersonal or abrupt—it’s good to have a sentence or two of “chit chat” before the main point of the email, especially if you’ve already got an established relationship. Whatever you do, you want to create a personal connection with the client. Don’t let them think the email is automated, or a cut and paste job.
  • Keep your sentences short and clear—make your email as easy to read, process, and respond to as possible.
  • Give your client the information they need—don’t make your client work. Make sure you include everything they need to know in the email.
  • Ask questions and state what you need the client to do—if the client needs to take a particular action, state that directly and ask the right questions.
  • Use the right formatting—break up your email so it’s easy to read. That means using paragraphs sensibly. If you need to get complex information across, use a bulleted list. If you need them to follow a process, use numbered steps.
  • If you’re just providing information and don’t need a response, write “No response needed” at the end of the email.
  • Proofread your email—few things break trust as fast as a typo. It’s irrational but true. Make sure you proofread the email to get rid of any mistakes.
  • Thank your client—finish off your email with a thank you, it shows you respect their time.

Here are some hints on specific ways to approach certain types of email.

Providing business, product, or service information to a client

Sometimes a client will request further information about your business or the products and services you offer. Here’s how to respond.

  • Give them a reason to trust you—share your expertise, background, and experience. State any hard facts you have about successes your business and offerings have created for others.
  • Explain clearly what your products and services do—frame this around the benefits they provide and how they will solve problems for the client. They want to know how you will make their life easier. Remember, what’s in it for them?
  • Provide links to further information—you don’t need to go into huge depth in the email, instead, you can provide hyperlinks or add attachments.
  • Ask if they need anything further—let them know you’re available to provide more information.
  • Arrange a follow-up—make a reminder to follow-up with the client in a couple of days to ensure they have the information they need. Our SaneReminders service can help with that.

Responding to client questions and queries

Clients have questions, you have answers. Here’s how to bring those two areas together in a beautiful, harmonious duet!

  • Repeat their question back to them—when you respond to a question in an email, state the question just before you state the answer. That way it’s clear what you’re responding to.
  • If they have three or more questions, use a list—answering lots of questions in a paragraph can look messy. If they have more than two questions, use a bullet or numbered list.
  • Provide exactly the information they’re after—only include as much information as the client has requested to answer the question. Provide hyperlinks to further information if they need it.
  • Arrange a follow-up—make a reminder to follow-up with the client in a couple of days to ensure they have the information they need. Our SaneReminders service can help with that.

Scheduling or rescheduling a meeting with a client

Make sure your client meetings are productive with these tips:

  • When you’re scheduling a meeting create a brief overview of what you’re going to discuss in the email.
  • A day or two before the meeting send through a formal agenda if one is needed.
  • If you need to reschedule a meeting then apologize, explain why, and suggest a new time.
  • Provide options for how the client can reach you in the meeting, whether that’s face-to-face, via telephone, Skype, audio conference or through some other means.
  • Take notes, ask, and answer questions in the meeting, write the important points down.
  • When the meeting is done, follow up with the client with an overview of the key points and ask if they have any amendments or questions.

Confirmations and follow ups

Sending confirmations and follow ups is a small but important way to build trust with clients.

  • Follow-ups are a great way to confirm the client has everything they need from you. If you’re following up on a proposal or quote, need to close a deal, or just want to make sure the client is happy, our SaneReminders service can prompt you to write them again.
  • If the client has sent some information to you, respond to them acknowledging and thanking them for their email.

Remember that awesome client relationship are all about building trust. That means clear communications, meeting your commitments, and keeping your promises. A well-worded, professional email will go a long way to creating valuable, lasting client relationships.