In the writing skills course that we teach at Creative Communication Network, entitled Write Your Way to Success, we discuss how to handle e-Mails.
Most of our participants claim they write e-Mails as more than 85% of the type of writing they do on the job.
Obviously, writing e-Mails is often responding to other e-Mails.
And, the question is, do you control e-Mail, or does e-Mail control you?
Do you remember the Southwest Airlines commercials a few years ago, where a woman dropped a cake because she heard a “bing” on her computer, announcing an e-Mail? Or the one where the guy jumped over a cube wall to get to his e-Mail? They were exaggerated events, but not too far from reality.
You likely remember the synopsis of the book that I presented at our First Friday Book Synopsis entitled The Tyranny of e-Mail by John Freeman (Scribner, 2009). In that book, he presented a strong set of hints for writing and reading e-Mails, including scheduling a time to read e-Mails so that you concentrate on what you read and what you write, and so that you control e-Mail, instead of it controlling you. If you missed the original presentation, you can find it on 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com.
I thought this piece published on February 21, 2012 in the Harvard Business Review blog by Amy Gallo, entitled “Stop Email Overload,” was also provacative in the same sense. Click here to read the entire article.
Think about some of these principles. How much more productive would you be if you dictated when and how you went through your e-Mail? What if you decided how e-Mail fit into your day instead of jumping to check it everytime your computer beeped to tell you something new has arrived?
Let’s talk about it really soon!
This is a mild rant.
A while back, I flew a very, very well-known airline. It was a typical flight – very crowded, not many people looking happy with the process. Including the flight attendants, or the counter agents. They all looked like, and acted like, they would rather be somewhere else – anywhere else.
As I boarded the plane, I commented to the flight attendant as I boarded: “you look tired.” She said, “you have no idea…” She was probably grateful that I gave her permission to voice her fatigue. But, if you want to know the truth, I was pretty tired myself. And a welcoming face, with a glad to see you voice tone, would have been nice. Not from this crew!
As the doors closed, we were shown a video. On it were smiling faces, with perky voices, all saying “thank you” for choosing this particular airline.
The contrast between the (assumedly paid) faces and voices on the video screen, and the real, live voices and faces on the airplane, were stark, dramatic… No one was thanking me in person for choosing this airline. Just the hired voices were doing the thanking.
So, if you can’t actually provide genuine, smiling and welcoming customer service, just hire it done, with a facade of customer service.
Contrast that with the tone of real, live flight attendants I have seen on Southwest Airlines. At times, I feel like they are borderline too perky, too happy, too cheerful… Bur after this contrast, I will gladly accept the perkiness of Southwest Airlines whenever I have a choice. In fact, when I have a choice, I will go out of my way to choose Southwest Airlines. I will gladly trade an assigned seat for a face and voice genuinely glad to have me on board.
Get customer service wrong, and it leaves an “I’d rather be somewhere else myself” impression on this customer.