Years ago, I used to work in computer tech support. It was 1996/1997, and computers (and the internet) were still somewhat of a novelty. At least for most people.
And I admit, the nerd in me took pleasure in the caller’s incompetence. I mean, really, how could you NOT know how to copy/paste? How could you not know how to create a shortcut. Etc. Etc. I even really got some of those calls that sound like an urban legend:
Caller: My computer boots to funny writing.
Me: What version of Windows do you have?
Caller: Oh, there’s no windows here – I’m in the basement.
Or how about this gem…
Caller: My screen says “press any key”, but there’s no “ANY” key on the keyboard… (yea, it really happened.)
Anyway, I look back now and can (almost) forgive some of the ignorance – like I said, all of this was new to many people.
But here in 2010, I am still somewhat shocked by some of the utter ineptitude I come across. Much of it has to do with e-mail. Now, these aren’t just regular homeowners (like the people I dealt with 14 years ago were) – I deal with businesspeople now. And frankly, I am a little surprised about a few things. So allow me to help – here are some things you just have to know about if you want to converse via e-mail.
- Learn about your spam folder, and learn how to set the settings so you can accept attachments. I cannot count the number of times I got a curt “you never sent the file” when I did indeed send it. I always say “check your spam folder”, to which I get maybe twenty seconds of silence, then a quiet “oh…”
- Learn how to quote properly. I do not need to read the entire last week’s worth of conversation in our exchanges.
- On that note, please lose the four-line signature about how this message was intended for so and so and there’s an army of lawyers standing by if anyone tries anything funny… Nothing says “spineless corporate weenie” quite like 4 lines of legal disclaimer at the end of every_single_e-mail you send.
- If I have to register to reach you (as in those annoying spam protectors), well, I don’t. You’ll simply never hear from me. Stop hiding and take your Viagra e-mail like the rest of us.
- Address book – learn it, and use it. It’s really not that hard. Trust me, sending me an e-mail as a “re” to a mail I sent you last year tells me you don’t know how to use an address book.
- Please stop sending 10mb attachments unless 10mb is truly needed. It slows everything up. Learn how to compress a picture if you must. Or ask a ten year old to do it for you.
Ok, I know I’m a little snide here – sorry, that’s my inner tech support dude (he needs to get out every now and again). But in all seriousness, it’s every businessperson’s responsibility to learn how to use e-mail efficiently and correctly, for both you and the receiver.