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How can email communication affect your business?
By Chris McClean

Email is now one of the fastest ways to gain or lose potential customers because of it's ability to deliver information fast to an enormous amount of people. After sending an email you are no longer in control of the affects of the message and can only wait in suspense.

An employee of your company started off his/her day in a bad mood. A potential customer emails them with a trivial question and they reply with a brash tone. Do you think that the recipient will use your company. On the Internet word travels fast. It takes me 3 minutes to send email to 50-100 people. Therefore your company can lose 100 current or potential customers with the brash email sent out by your employee. This can happen in a matter of minutes. Speaking from personal experience I sent out what I considered a helpful message concerning a virus on the Internet. One person thought it was quite annoying because they knew that some of these messages are merely hoaxes. The message I received, without a doubt, shot lightning bolts at me. What did I do? I apologized. I visited their site to see what kind of business they were in and I new that if someone had ever asked me to give them information about products relating to what they sold, I would most likely say. Do not use "this company."

I find that it is most helpful to search newsgroups for my company name to see if good or bad things are being said about me. Try searching for Microsoft, Netscape or AOL in DejaNews ( and see what results are presented to you. Remember newsgroups are simply meeting places on the Internet where people exchange information. Most people know that the best business comes from word of mouth or "word of email."

Back to the story. After I sent my apology, I received a reply the next day stating that they were sorry for what they had said. Problem solved. I now do not have a problem recommending that company to a friend. On some occasions a brash answer is responded to with a brash reply. Those are the lucky ones. Be careful, there are many vindictive people who will reply to brashness by breaking into your entire site and demonstrating how angry they are with you. I cannot and will not try to break into someone's website, but people who are more knowledgeable can and do.

However, the lack of body language, tones of voice, and shared environment, email is not as rich a communication method as a telephone conversation or face-to-face. It may be difficult for your correspondent to tell if you are serious or kidding, frustrated or euphoric, happy or sad. Sarcasm has the most potential to offend and can be particularly dangerous to use in email. Avoid sending email that might be upsetting to the recipient.

Expressing human emotions, moods and personalities is difficult to convey when using email. Emoticons have been developed as shorthand to help communicate feelings, emotions and show some personality where desired. Below is a short list of emoticons. To find more simply go to your favourite search engine and enter, "emoticons."

Symbol Translation Symbol Translation Symbol Translation
: -) smiley face/happy 8-) eye-glasses :-| indifference
:-e disappointment :-P wry smile :-! foot in mouth
:-& tongue tied ;-) wink :-O yell
:-/ perplexed :-> devilish grin :-Q smoker
:-{ mustache :- male :-( frown/sad
:-@ scream ;-} leer :-D shock or surprise
C=:-) chef d:-) baseball smiley >- female

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