The Feature Our Happiest Customers Love Most
By Gemma JoyceFeb 28
Emails are probably the grandparent of internet technologies, and not necessarily in a good way. My father tells me that in days of yore, emails were for mucking about between co-workers, while the real work got done via printed memos.
In the workplace of my generation, Skype, Facebook, mobile apps and other IM services help colleagues share thoughts that aren’t ‘official’ enough to warrant an email. A bit of chatter or an interesting link, perhaps.
This means that the email is now the formal line of communication. It’s something that is (almost) always to do with work and is rude to not respond to. They demand attention, and it’s why entire companies are built on trying to get you to read and act upon such emails.
Anyway, you can choose your Twitter handle, your Facebook name and your other social profiles and avatars, but can you choose your email?
Yes, of course you can. But you might not be able to choose your work one, as many companies follow a particular protocol.
If you have your own business or startup, or are responsible for deciding the email format for staff, here are some things to consider.
An awful lot of enquiries will have to be focused on one central contact address. You can have support, sales or press contacts, but there is a need to include a generic one too.
Whatever the case, it’s a good idea to think about how you want individuals and organisations to imagine the ‘door’ of your brand, because that’s what this address represents.
This was briefly mentioned already, but once businesses get to a certain size, it becomes much more efficient to have different addresses for different purposes of contact.
Do you want your customer service team to be thought of as ‘tech help’ (email@example.com) or ‘support’ (firstname.lastname@example.org)? Consider how using email@example.com could be used as a super-urgent channel, or alternatively could set you up to receive more negative messages.
Similarly with press enquiries, would you prefer to be seen as a firstname.lastname@example.org to include a broader scope than email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org? How would email@example.com represent you?
This trend remains important when considering other departments, such as sales or account management too.
This can be a real minefield. There are entire sites and blogs devoted to figuring out how to contact specific employees of a business via email, such is the desire to send emails to individuals rather than via other channels.
Accordingly, deciding how to assign staff members addresses is very important.
It can be a pleasant and simple touch to opt with the simple firstname.lastname@example.org, a tactic I was surprised and happy to discover that some employees of global tech giant Twitter use, despite its size.
However, when trying to make the company seem as big as possible, to analysts, the media investors and other institutions, this can make it look like your business is just a few guys in a shed in Romania.
To combat this, companies can opt for the more formal email@example.com, which also helps with potential clashes between employees with the same name.
One key issue with this though, is that the Constantine Barrow-Papadopolouses of this world will really struggle when sharing their emails, especially over the phone.
Is there a compromise?
Another is to start implementing a number dynamic, either random or based on some other metric, such as firstname.lastname@example.org or similar – which is a huge benefit if you’re interested in masking your staff addresses from potential snoops online.
Whichever system you do choose to adopt, it’s important that there is some logic to it. It can be super frustrating for staff or regular contacts to have a confusing web of systems to use, and can potentially reflect poorly upon the company externally if you don’t get it right.
Which type do you prefer? And do you even care? If so, you can contact me on the below address: