This isn’t going to be your typical blog post. This isn’t about SEO, paid ads, or anything of the sort that we typically post. This is about proof and admission. The 5 minutes you spend reading this could pay back dividends down the line if you abide by it. Besides, I know this because I just went through it.
Yesterday, I spent the whole day at court. I was being cross-examined on a case where there were thousands of pages worth of emails printed out, and I’d get asked questions regarding the context of random sentences, random charts, and the intent behind said items. Most of which I wasn’t privy to at all prior to the examination. This is what sets this apart in terms of difficulty and why I wanted to write this post.
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Context Over Everything
You never realize how emails can be taken out of context, or misunderstood until you’re presented with a binder and asked non stop questions about them. Here’s an example:
“Hi, Client! I’ll proceed with the designs we talked about, thanks!”
This seems innocent enough, right? You’re agreeing about the designs and proceeding with the work. Here’s what it doesn’t say, which is what you’ll get asked about in an examination:
- Which designs did you proceed with?
- When did you deliver those designs?
- What else was talked about on the call?
These are three simple questions that open up a can of worms since the email in question has been taken out of context and is vague enough. This is compounded further by the fact that the majority of the decisions were formed over a phone call.
List The Expectations
Here’s the best way to respond to this instead:
“Hi, Client! It was great talking to you on the phone today. As agreed, we will proceed with mockup #1, and I expect to have it ready for next week. We also discussed how to best proceed with the blog content on the call, and I will follow-up with you next week regarding the best approach here.”
This response will take you an additional minute or two to write out, but it also clearly explains the next steps, when to expect the deliverables, and goes into a summary of what else was discussed on the call. The main premise here is to have a record of what was discussed, and what the expectations are. Cadence and accountability are important factors in any project or service being set up.
In summary, be mindful of what you send, and how you phrase it. Assume that it’ll be taken out of context, and presented in court! How would your email hold up there? Did you diligently let the client know everything? Did you omit something that should’ve been included? And most importantly, did you go above and beyond to ensure everything was communicated clearly with all expectations being set? It’s these small tasks that might not seem as important given your phone call, but it is surprisingly important given that it was a phone call that you communicated over.