Saturday, 22 February 2014

7 things to avoid while sending emails

Can you imagine? In the year 2012, the total email traffic per day worldwide was 144 billion and the number of email users worldwide stood at 2.2, as reported by Pingdom.

With such huge email traffic worldwide, it’s for sure that the person you are emailing must be getting a lot of emails. If you want your emails to be read by the recipient and in order to make them effective you need to avoid the below silly mistakes.

Do you like others shouting at you? Obviously not. Make sure that you never write emails in capital letters. The receiver will feel that you are BARKING LIKE A HOUND – if it’s in all capitals.

Use the cc (carbon copy) and bcc (blind carbon copy) options sparingly. Mark a copy only if you want a specific action from the person or simply want to inform him/her by keeping in loop. Use bcc only when you want to send the same information to multiple receivers and you don’t want them to know who the other recipients are. 

Try to avoid using the ‘high priority/urgent’ options. It seems you are being bossy. Likewise, don’t request delivery receipts – the receiver is irritated with such mails. If it’s super urgent, simply state that in your mail. If you want to make sure that the receiver got your message just ask to confirm the receipt.

While replying, never push the reply all button without thinking. First, be sure whether all the receivers should be getting your reply or not. Simply replying all is filling the mailboxes of the recipients and wasting their time.

Don’t include the internal email discussions while forwarding the mail to an external contact. Don’t do that while forwarding to internal contacts as well. Use the message thread only when it is needed for the reference.

Don’t use flowery language and excessive compliments. You send emails to communicate, not to make the recipient turn the pages of a dictionary to look for the meaning. Compliment only if it’s necessary. Flatter too much and you will be taken as a bootlicker. 

Don’t use too large or too small fonts. Also avoid the flashy colours and fonts. Stick to easily readable fonts like Verdana and Arial. Don’t go above 11 points and below 9 points.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Courtesy and employee commitment - a must for customer loyalty

Deal with your customers courteously (c)
Recently I was at one of the famous guest houses in Thamel of Kathmandu to meet one of my friends from India.

He had called me from the guest house landline and I could not grasp the room number correctly. When I asked the front desk staff, he fumbled through few pages, could not find the name and threw the log book to me. I scanned through the pages but could not find the name.

The staff showed no interest at all to help. Instead, he claimed that my friend might have lodged at some other hotel.

So I took out my cellphone and showed him the number. Luckily, it was dialed from the same guest house. Then the next person at the front desk came forward and checked in the computer’s log. And there he was – in the room no 308.

He dialed the room and handed me the phone. I thanked the man for his kindness.

When we left the place, we asked the gatekeeper directions to a well-known pub. But instead of helping us, he behaved like a self-satisfied snob. There was no politeness and not even a pinch of humility in his tone of voice.

As a result, my friend from India said that he would not stay at the guest house from now-onwards. And I promised not to recommend any of my friends to the guest house.

Thus, here goes the first nugget of wisdom to retain customer loyalty.

Customer relationship starts at your organisation’s gate itself. Conduct training on courtesy and etiquette for all staff starting from the gatekeeper and front desk staff. And apply zero tolerance on compliance.

In a recent webinar titled “Creating a sustainability innovation culture in your organisation: Employee engagement 2.0”, Christine Diamente, Head of Brand and Corporate Sustainability at Alcatel-Lucent, explained how the company ensures same culture in all countries across the globe. Alcatel-Lucent applies zero tolerance on compliance and conducts compliance training for all employees across the globe, as well as contractors and subcontractors.

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Few days ago, as I was passing by a state-owned dairy products outlet in New Road of Kathmandu, I thought of picking a packet of paneer. So I went inside the shop and asked for a 200 gram packet. As the lady gave me the packet, I handed over a 500 rupees note to her.

To my astonishment, she took back the packet from me and the man sitting next to her bluntly said that they don’t have the change.

What a nonsense! They had the product, there was a customer ready to buy, but they did not have willingness to sell it.   

It not only miffed me, but even tempted me to look for other options. Though I was a loyal customer of the dairy, I bought a competitor’s product. And it tasted equally good!

Thus, the second nugget of wisdom to retain customer loyalty goes like this.

Come up with plans to ensure employee commitment. Embed sustainability within the employee culture. 

In the earlier mentioned webinar, Sarah Ellis, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Society at Sainsbury’s, said that sustainability is embedded within the employee culture at Sainsbury’s. They have come up with 20x20 Sustainability Plan with 20 commitments based on five corporate values to make them an even more sustainable business by 2020.

At Sainsbury’s colleagues with innovative ideas are rewarded. “Little stories, big difference” videos showcase employee efforts in engaging customers to advance 20x20 goals at Sainsbury’s.

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The webinar, Creating a sustainability innovation culture in your organisation: Employee engagement 2.0, was organised by Ethical Corporation on 12 February 2014. The names of the organisations have not been mentioned to protect their identities.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

5 simple steps to better internal communication in your organisation

Informal gatherings help better internal
communication. (c)
Are you always worried about bettering the internal communications in your organisation? Worry not, think outside the box. Go out of the track to communicate better within your organisation.

Get rid of emails once a week
Can you work without sending mails? Get back to the brick and mortar module once a week. Try doing it once a month first and if you are successful, make it a no-email day once a week. Encourage your colleagues to talk to each other on phone, if it’s face-to-face even better. However, be flexible enough to reply to the urgent mails. Don’t miss a chance to reply to a prospective customer or a donor if you are working for a non-profit.

Try changing work stations and responsibilities once in a while
Have you watched an advertisement where a husband going to office exchanges duties with his wife who manages the home affairs? The husband gets to know how hard it is to stay at home and be a housewife. Meanwhile the wife experiences the hard work her husband does in order to earn the bread and butter for the family. Both end up respecting each other at the end. Similar sort of exercise once in a while will command respect and build trust among staff.

Extended potluck once a year
Bring enough food from your home to share with your colleagues. Ask them to bring their stuff as well. Eat together. Extend the lunch hour by an hour or two. You can add few bottles of beer to the food, especially if the potluck is organised on Friday. You will find people talking in an open environment, laughing, cracking jokes and sharing their personal matters during the eating together. It will help develop better bonds among your employees.  

Organise a monthly hike
Everybody wants to stay healthy and most people like to travel. Combine these two things. Organise a monthly hike. On the first attempt only few will participate. Ask them to post photos from the hike in the intranet, Facebook or Flickr and share them with their colleagues. Request them to talk about the experience with their colleagues. The word-of-mouth and sharing through social media tools will increase the participation in the next hike. Once you get people to join the regular monthly hikes, it will certainly be helpful in breaking the communication barriers and silos in which the different teams work.

Encourage blogging
You must have heard – blogging is outdated; it is dead.   But it can do wonders to share the experiences and progress in your organisation. Create a team of active bloggers. Request them to blog at regular intervals. Encourage others to comment on their jottings. Start writing and commenting yourself. Announce attractive prizes for the top 10 influential bloggers.  And you will see the incredible flow of ideas, the increasing batch of bloggers, and more and more sharing of information within your organisation.