You and your team naturally strive to make zero mistakes when sending emails to clients. Yet email mistakes happen and errors get through, especially when things are busy, stress is high, and time is short.
So, what do you do when an “oops” happens?
The answer depends on the type and severity of an email mistake.
Spelling and Grammar Errors
Spelling and grammar mistakes generally do not require a follow-up email. If someone mentions an error, an embarrassed chuckle and red face are likely fine as a response. Just make sure to thoroughly proofread your next email before hitting Send because email mistakes can be costlier than you may think.
- According to a recent study, spelling mistakes cost companies millions in lost online sales and raise public questions about a company’s trust and credibility.
Tip: Don’t rely on spell-checker programs alone to catch email mistakes.
Spell-checker programs are helpful to catch some errors before they go out, but don’t rely on them to catch everything. Many spell-checker programs will tell you that a sentence is fine when it’s not.
Here’s an example pet-owner communication that illustrates the problem:
You pet’s happiness stars with good heath. Please call us today to schedule a check up for your pet.
There are several things wrong with the above sentence:
- The word “stars” should be “starts.”
- The word “heath” should be “health.”
- The phrase “check up” should be “checkup.”
In other words, without the corrections in place, the sentence basically talks about something called happiness stars that contain uncultivated land consisting of coarse grasses and heather, and which belong to the client’s pet. The sentence concludes by encouraging the pet owner to call to schedule a check written or belonging to a pet, and which may involve upward movement.
As silly as this sounds, Microsoft’s Spelling & Grammar checker found nothing wrong with the sentence because each word was spelled correctly. So, be cautious when using spell-checker programs. While more robust writing-assistant services like Grammarly can evaluate contextual issues and flag questionable words (which Grammarly did with the above example sentence), a final proofread by you or a team member is always your best bet before sending an email to clients.
Misidentifying a Person
If you misspell someone’s name or identify the wrong person in an email, follow up in a human way. Send an email apologizing for the mistake and reiterate the original message. Example:
Please accept our apologies for misspelling your name in our last email. We feel embarrassed about this and can only attribute the error to a busier-than-usual day at our clinic.
As a reminder, please call today to schedule your pet’s checkup.
Transparency and accountability build client trust. Email mistakes are also human. This means mistakes are relatable, which can make your practice feel more approachable to clients when framed within a simple apology.
A second time is not the charm.
Misspelling someone’s name or misidentifying a person a second time is harder to excuse. To ensure this doesn’t happen:
- If you don’t have a client communication system and manually send out emails, take extra care to spell all client names correctly.
- If you use a client communication system like ALLYDVM, make sure the person’s name is spelled correctly in your master list of clients.
Sending an Email You Did Not Mean to Send
You click Send when you meant to click another option. You accidentally send a “test” email to your entire client list instead of just yourself. Or your cat lounges across the keyboard while you’re making coffee and sends an unfinished email to everyone.
Things happen, but many “oops” email mistakes can easily be remedied by being transparent and human, and even using a bit of humor. If your cat really does send a half-completed email, for example, acknowledge what happened in a follow-up email. Example:
You may have noticed that my last email went out incomplete. I intended to complete it, but my cat apparently thought it was just fine as it was and lounged across the keyboard to hit Send while I was making coffee. Please accept my apologies.
I would like to say that my cat also apologizes, but he’s currently chasing a crinkle ball down the hall and, by all observations, has no memory of what happened.
If you’re a cat owner, I’m sure you can relate.
Anyway, here is my original message in its entirety.
For situations that are less humorous and more embarrassing, don’t panic. Simply send out an email that acknowledges and apologizes for the mistake and send out any correct information you may have intended. When you focus on making sure your clients get the information they need, they’ll appreciate your effort, and that builds goodwill.
Mistakes That Impact Your Business
Email mistakes that impact your business should be corrected immediately. If you’ve sent out the wrong date for an event, for example, promptly send out a correction notice with the right information.
As tempting as it can feel sometimes to save face, resist the urge to invent an excuse for the error, such as, “Due to unforeseen circumstances, we’ve had to change the date of our event.” If clients discover that nothing unforeseen came up apart from an email mistake, your credibility can suffer. Simply send out a correction notice and leave it at that.
Overall Best Practices for Handling “Oops” Emails
Follow up as soon as you notice an error. Oftentimes, people who have not seen the original email will skip right to the correction. The longer you leave a mistake uncorrected, the more time people will have to become annoyed by it.
Panic is natural, but don’t let it get the better of you. Relax. Take a deep breath. Exhale slowly, focus, then write your follow-up email. Firing off an email in a panic can cause more email mistakes, and a third follow-up email has little potential to be anything but purely embarrassing and damaging to your business reputation.
Own Up to Mistakes
Explicitly state why you are sending a follow-up email, beginning with the subject line.
If you’re resending the same email with corrected information, use your original subject line, but add a word to the beginning to indicate that this is the email people should read. Examples:
- Subject Line: Correction – [Original Subject Line]
- Subject Line: Oops! – [Original Subject Line]
Make the corrected information 100% clear in the body of your email by also making the incorrect information 100% clear. Example:
In my previous email, I wrote that our customer appreciation BBQ and open house was August 15th from 2 to 8 p.m. I apologize for providing you with the wrong date. Our open house is August 16th from 2 to 8 p.m., and we look forward to seeing you.
When you make it easy for people to understand corrected information, you make the original email mistake seem less bothersome.
A simple apology is plenty.
Acknowledging mistakes with a bit of humor shows that you’re human, which strengthens client engagement. Email is a conversational medium, and in everyday conversation, people enjoy and connect with humor. So, use it where appropriate.
Make an Offer
People enjoy unexpected rewards, which can smooth over email mistakes. So, use them where you can. Example:
In my previous email, I mistakenly informed you that our customer appreciation BBQ and open house was August 15th from 2 to 8 p.m. The correct date is August 16th from 2 to 8 p.m. As my way of apologizing for any trouble this may have caused you, please enjoy a second burger on us when you arrive. We look forward to seeing you.
The Bottom Line
The likelihood of making email mistakes increases when:
- You’re stuck for time.
- You rush to send emails.
- You repeatedly type messages out manually.
To eliminate these challenges, your email communication system should do three things for you:
- Save time.
- Increase efficiency.
- Include automated email features and mass communication templates to minimize the amount of manual typing.
ALLYDVM provides all the above (and more) for busy veterinary practices.
As the industry’s leading client communication and retention software, ALLYDVM saves practices time, improves efficiency, and reduces the risk of email mistakes with mass communication templates and automated appointment reminders using client information directly from your practice management software.
Further saving practices time and improving efficiency:
- ALLYDVM syncs with your practice management software, enabling your team to tailor communications and ensure you’re reaching the right people with the right information.
- ALLYDVM’s retention calendar automatically pulls client and patient data and prompts your team to update missing information and schedule past-due appointments.