I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy!Tash

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Hiding email addresses leaves a sour taste

Do you think email addresses should be hidden or open to your clients or members?

email symbol shwoing call us, write to us, but don't email us!

A business making it hard for customers to email them just doesn’t make much business sense to me. Yet that’s exactly what one organisation is doing to their members…

Today, I received an email from an organisation I’m a member of. {Disclaimer – I am only a member there because I haven’t made the time to move elsewhere – that time is now a high priority.}

Replying to emails

I did not like today’s email – I mean it was laid out ok and was polite and appropriate as far as the wording went, but I am not happy with the content. Largely because it showed that organisation is using member money to fund something completely unrelated, public and providing no obvious benefit to members.

I hit reply to tell them what I think. I doubt my voice will make a huge difference but I would feel better to be honest about it.

However, the email comes from a no-reply address.

Instead, I went to their website to grab their email address to use instead, but they only have an online form. So I even went as far as checking some letters they’ve sent me in the past – also the contact form URL instead of an email address.

So I can’t reply to the email.

And I am left feeling they are hiding from members. Feeling they are hiding from complaints. Feeling a bit uncomfortable and like I’ve touched something dirty with the way they are keeping contact details secret.

Selective email address use

Spam is awful – I hate it. So like many others I avoid putting my email address online in a way that spam bots can find it.

Yet that doesn’t mean my email address is hidden completely.

It is on my business cards, letterhead and certainly is the ‘reply to’ address for my html newsletter.

Other organisations put their email address on their site as a graphic – bots being unable to read graphics (well, so far anyway!) – or in words (eg write AT wordconstructionsDOTcomDOTau is an acceptable way for me to share my email address online.)

And it’s not like I’m talking about a small organisation that can’t cope with emails – a sole trader or other SMB may need to manage contact options, but a big business has more staff and even dedicated staff for customer service.

Is limited promotion the same as hiding?

What do you think?

Are they protecting themselves from spam or from complaints? Are they hiding their email address, even from members, or is it a reasonable business decision?

And I’d love to hear what you have done to promote or hide your email address, too.

Answer the question when replying

One simple way to improve your business communications is to ensure that every email you send in reply to anyone (staff, suppliers, customers and even friends and family) actually serves you both well.

So if someone has taken the time to ask you a question, make sure you answer it, and answer it clearly, when you reply. Sounds obvious but as it often doesn’t happen, it is worth checking before you hit send…

  1. read their email again – did you miss a second question? Are you sure you understood the real question being asked?
  2. does your answer stand alone? That is, did you give a full answer that anyone could understand – there is nothing worse than an email “Dear Fred, the answer is yes. Regards, Barney”. “Dear Fred, Yes we do deliver to Devonport. Regards, Barney” is much more effective as Fred doesn’t have to remember or think about what his question was.
  3. is your answer as simple and clear as possible? “Yes we do deliver to Devonport” is much better than “Yes, we deliver to all major cities in Australia” (is Devonport considered a major city?) or “Our delivery areas are all listed on our website and we cover most parts of Tasmania and Queensland” (how is Queensland relevant? Why couldn’t you give a direct answer?)
  4. if you can’t answer the question, say so rather than be obscure or ignore the question. I know I would prefer to hear “I’m not sure but will find out for you” or “we haven’t done that before so I’ll have to ask my manager to call you back” rather than having to ask again or risk making a guess.
Not only are clear replies to questions a good communication strategy, they can save you (and those you email) time and frustration.

Reply to blog comments

Well the title says it all really – it is important to reply to the comments left on your blog.

interacting speech makes a blogI just read a blog post today that had a dozen or so comments from various people, including a question for clarification on an aspect of the post topic, without one reply from the blogger. The post was a few weeks old so she’s had time to reply – and the post was actually about how to deal with negative blog comments!

So what happens when you don’t reply to comments people take the time to leave for you?

  1. you look arrogant and rude, especially if you’ve written any questions or invitations for responses
  2. you miss the opportunity to discuss the topic further and get others’ input
  3. you miss the opportunity to show further knowledge, expertise and generosity by answering questions that come up in the comments
  4. you appear lazy and/or disinterested in what your readers have to contribute
  5. you give other people the last word – and if their words are negative it could damage your brand
  6. you don’t give the impression that you want to build a community which is a large aspect of blogging in the first place
  7. you reduce the number of back links from your site (people won’t be inspired to comment and leave links if you aren’t answering them) which hinders your SEO potential of a blog
  8. answering comments and engaging in a healthy discussion often gathers momentum and additional attention (e.g. people share the link via social media and bookmark sites) so a lack of comments may limit your exposure further
  9. you may just miss out on building relationships with some great people – some of whom may become clients, suppliers or friends

So I go back to the title of this post – reply to the comments people leave on your blog. And reply as soon as practical, too.

What do you think when you see a blog without replies to comments?