Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Is your business ‘email qualified’?

We all make the assumption that everyone we know, including people that work for us and with us, knows how to use email, but is that really the case? Have you ever been taught how to use emails or have you simply picked it up along the way? So what’s to say that you haven’t also picked up some bad habits along the way and are simply reinforcing them constantly? Have you ever stopped to consider whether you and your business are actually using emails in the most productive and appropriate manner?

 

When a new person in your business commences, are they simply given an email address with the businesses domain attached and left to their own devices? Do you appreciate that it is now possible for that individual to send totally inappropriate emails to any place or person on the Internet? Better yet, do you appreciate that they are doing this with the business details attached? So all that hard work the business has invested in building up goodwill and reputation can be dashed by an employee who has been there less than a week.

 

Does you business help people understand when it is a appropriate to use Carbon Copies and Reply to all? Do they appreciate that anything they send via email will be retained, not only on your systems but also on whomever they send it to? Do they realise that any email information is easily searchable and can’t be recalled or deleted once sent? Do you let people send and receive personal emails from their business accounts? Most importantly, has the business ever made it clear to employees what they should and shouldn’t do? Has it explained to them the email ‘standards’ of the business, such as appropriate subject lines to be used, how they should address emails and how they should sign off? And importantly, when it maybe more appropriate to speak directly with the person rather than using email. Probably not.

 

It is amazing to think that email is probably the most used tool in business today and yet there is next to no training on how it should be used. There are next to no business standards about what is appropriate or acceptable usage. There is next to no understanding that information in emails that leaves the business from anyone, provides a direct reflection of that business in the minds of the receiver, wherever that may be. There is next to no effort or investment placed into the idea of using emails to improve the productivity of the business. Strange isn’t it? When businesses spend so much money on getting their corporate logo and stationery right, proof reading any document that leaves the business but almost no care is placed on what impact emails have inside and outside the organization.

 

We still seem to see email is a toy. We fail to treat it as a real business tool, although it has been that for a long time now. The most likely reason is that email transcends our lives. We use email to correspond with friends, family, strangers and business colleagues. What we have failed to appreciate is that the context in which we use email is very, very important. Businesses need to be mindful of this fact and should be reinforcing the correct context to its staff at all times. Email, like most technology is a tool. Used effectively it can garner great efficiencies. Used inappropriately it can not only be a weight dragging productivity down, it has the potential to cause real problems for any business.