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View Full Version : Am I a dreadful, rude, awful person?


spark
03-29-2011, 06:07 PM
Okay. So I just had a customer send me this long, annoying, passive-aggressive message. Not about anything I've made for him, but about how I e-mail him. You see, I don't respond to his idle, social, chit-chat that he puts into his messages, I just answer his business-related questions.

Apparently that's rude.

So I ask you guys, because I really do want to know. Is it?

Say you get an e-mail that goes "Hi, how are you? I'm fine. The weather here is great and sunny, I think it's nice that spring is coming. Oh, and about that thing you were going to make for me, you were going to do X detail in Y way, yes?"

And you reply with "Yes, I was going to do X detail in Y way." Are you being rude?

Do I need to actually go "I'm doing fine too. The weather here is still pretty cold and rainy, I wish spring would come. And yes, I'm going to do X detail in Y way."?

If somebody comes up to me and says "Hi, how are you?" of course I'm going to say "fine" but personally I don't feel that e-mail is the same. Maybe I'm wrong.

I'll add that I work with people who have no sense of personal boundaries whatsoever. I mean none. If I had just a nickel for every time one of them has started acting like we're best buddies just because I'm willing to talk to them and take their money, I'd actually have some serious dough. I'm not kidding or exaggerating there, it happens on an almost daily basis. I've gotten customers coming to me to cry on my shoulder. I've gotten customers telling me about their sex lives. I've gotten customers insisting I tell them about MY sex life, and/or propositioning me for chat-sex. I've gotten customers who e-mail/IM me daily to try and socialize, even when their projects are long since over. I'm trying to keep as much professional distance as possible. It's bad enough without encouraging these people to think of me as their buddy!

But of course then I get told I'm rude. *sigh* I can't win!

wagegoth
03-29-2011, 06:39 PM
I'd probably just say something noncommittal/indirect like, "Nice to hear from you, [annoying, passive-aggressive client]. Yes, I am going to do X detail in Y, as you requested. Lots to do, back to work. Bye."

KiaKat
03-29-2011, 07:09 PM
I tend to include basic greetings if the email is written formally. Something like

[client],

Thank you for contacting me. I'm doing well, glad to hear you are, too.

Yes, I will do detail X in Y, thank you for confirming.

[me]

Kanalah
03-29-2011, 08:16 PM
Uhm...

Face to face talking is one thing, and business email is something completely different.

When I'm at my shows, yeah I'll make a bit of small talk, be friendly and personable, all that jazz. Email me about work stuff? Yeah it's professional and down to business.

Not to say that I'm rude or gruff or anything.

Guah I am having a shit-tacular day.

wolfie
03-30-2011, 12:04 AM
I may be a bit unusual, but in business dealings I much prefer the "Joe Friday" (character from Dragnet) approach to a vendor who tries to be overly friendly.

bainsidhe
03-30-2011, 12:34 AM
Until your last paragraph, I was going to suggest being more friendly in your emails. And then I read what types of customers and "chit-chatting" you deal with. Hells bells, don't encourage them! Nothing wrong with a quick, "Thanks for your email", but that's as far as I would take it.

MoonCat
03-30-2011, 02:45 AM
I have to agree with Bainsidhe. Sounds like a lot of your customers are the "give 'em an inch and they want a mile" type. You are not rude for keeping your business emails on a professional basis. These people need to understand that you have work to do and don't have the time or the desire to spend all day chit-chatting.

trailerparkmedic
03-30-2011, 03:16 AM
With the clientele you have, I think being direct and to the point is the best option for both you and them. You need to do your work and their inappropriate behavior doesn't need to be encouraged.

morgana
03-30-2011, 01:37 PM
I would inform passive-aggressive-annoyance that I am running a business, not a chat line. If I were feeling particularly annoyed with him (and willing to possibly lose his business), I might also suggest that he familiarize himself with how business correspondence works.

But then, I'm feeling snotty today. ;) YMMV.

NorthernZel
03-30-2011, 08:29 PM
I tend to keep strictly professional and K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) in e-mail conversations. I may stretch my self to a "thanks for your mail" intro but that's about it.

On the other hand, all the people I've conversated with re: my job have had the same approach, so...

emax4
03-31-2011, 05:11 PM
I agree with Morgana on this one too. I understand they want to come off as friendly, but they may be using their unnecessary words as a feeler to see if they can talk to you more and more about non-business related things. They probably just see you as a person, not a busybody.

I guess since the cat is out of the bag, now's the time to tell him that you are running a business, and that some of his correspondence will be replied in the same way no matter what business he chooses to deal with. If he is easily offended about that, then he's limiting his options and himself severely.

I'd ask him, "so if a family member of mine just died and I have every right not to go into details about this with every interested person that wants my business, would you still consider that rude?"

thansal
03-31-2011, 07:01 PM
Personally I would say you should stick to the format of a professional letter (or at least close), something along the lines of:

Mr/Ms <Name>,

Thank you for your email. <Answer Question>


Thank you,
spark

I mean, the email I got from Squishables after I botched my order (put in the wrong zip code) is this:

Hi <Me>,

Thanks for letting us know! I've updated our system.

Thanks!

Beth
Squishable.com

They are (from what I know of them) a fairly small company, and I thought it was a very good email for apparently being personal, using my name (really it is a good trick I think), and very friendly.

If you want to cut out the very friendly aspect I wouldn't blame you after what you have said about some of your customers.

Really, to sum up:
No, you are fine. You are running a business, and what you are selling isn't your self as a friend. It's a product. You will run into people that don't get that, and there isn't much you can do about that I think.

Seshat
04-02-2011, 01:53 PM
Your interactions with me regarding the painting of my cat have been fine. Just enough social to be human, while being primarily business.

I wouldn't worry about it.


(For everyone else: Spark is painting my cat for me. In the 'yes, I received the reference photographs' email, she commented on how pretty the cat is. :D )

spark
04-03-2011, 01:13 AM
Well, she is a very pretty cat. :D

Aramika
04-04-2011, 12:26 AM
I second what Seshat said, Spark. You have been perfectly fine in your emails with me. Plus, you even said that my friend's ugly pug was cute! :p

spark
04-04-2011, 01:01 PM
I have a soft spot for fluffy animals, even if they're a bit fugly looking.

And I am a little less cautious with people who don't give me a creeper vibe. This guy... let's just say that what he's ordering kind of borders on being disturbing. It might be perfectly innocent. It might not! I tend to be even less chummy than usual with somebody who's already raised one warning flag, you know?

houdini
04-04-2011, 08:07 PM
I think you're perfectly within your rights to be all business with customers, particularly if they give you slight-creep-vibes. He's obviously just pissed off that you're not going to be his one and only friend, therefore you are mean and rude.

Tell your other TMI customers that you'll start charging an hourly rate for therapy if they keep bugging you with personal stuff :lol:

Flying Grype
04-05-2011, 02:45 PM
My customers are often old retired hobbyists, and my company is small and doesn't do stupid stuff like give me a time limit on calls. So maybe that's why I don't mind chatting a bit with customers.

One guy mentioned that his wife died recently. ?? Odd thing to say in a conversation with tech support, but I said, "I'm sorry to hear about your wife" in my email response.

I always get people who ask, "So you guys are in Canada, right?" and we chat about the weather.

One guy was so happy with my service that he said, "You know, one of the most beautiful places to do [hobby] is called Grype." ;)

I get a kick out of it, business is slow.