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Poll: What do you think when you receive an informally written email from a new unknown client?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 12:49
SITE STAFF
Apr 17, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What do you think when you receive an informally written email from a new unknown client?".

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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:49
Member
German to English
+ ...
I consider the offer on its merits Apr 17, 2013

The style of writing would not affect my inclination to take the job on (unless it was written in text-speak, which would be too informal even for me!). But I'm happy for people to start out with 'Hi Mary', I don't require a formal introduction process!

 

John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:49
Spanish to English
+ ...
I'm wary Apr 17, 2013

I do expect a bit of formality in the very first email. (After all, I was born a little before anyone had even heard of the Beatles.) The writer doesn't have to use words like "hence, pursuant to, or on behalf of" but a more formal tone inspires my confidence and, although I may or may not work with the client, I get the impression they're a serious company/person who will also be serious when it comes time to paying.

Once there's a bit of a relationship with a client, I'll use a cordial tone, but I avoid being too pally. My philosophy is "business is business and if I want a friend, I'll get a dog".icon_eek.gif


 

Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:49
Member
German to English
+ ...
Bizarrely, my first answer has disappeared! Apr 17, 2013

I'd consider the offer as the level of formality of an approach would not be an influencing factor in any way. Unless it was in text-speak or verging on it!

And now my first post has reappeared! Hey ho!

[Edited at 2013-04-17 09:59 GMT]


 

Jana Kinská  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 21:49
English to Czech
+ ...
I consider the offer, ... Apr 17, 2013

... want to find out more - and trust my intuition.

I actually have a number of very nice clients who go for a rather more personal, less formal approach from the very start, which I appreciate. But it always depends on the particular client's communication and management skills. Once the important details are there, the client seems trustworthy, gets back to me in reasonable time and is willing to help (and pay in time, of courseicon_wink.gif), I'm in.

After all, I prefer to communicate in a rather laid-back way rather than stick to formalities. Personal touch is something I really appreciate in this virtual work-related communication.


 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 04:49
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Depends a lot... Apr 17, 2013

on the level of informality.

"Hi, Julian (followed by a smiley)"

as if we were high school pals or something, generally finds its way to the rubbish bin very quickly. icon_eek.gif

As John says, a certain level of formality is needed at first contact.


 

Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:49
Spanish to English
+ ...
The client may not fully grasp register in English Apr 17, 2013

So I will at least read the message. By now I'm not bad, I reckon, at sniffing out the suspicious!

 

Melanie Maiwald-Meylahn  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:49
English to German
+ ...
It depends Apr 17, 2013

I also consider cultural differences. We tend to be more formal in Germany, so it would be pretty unusual to get a first business related email from a German client starting with: "Hallo Melanie". But if, for instance, a client from the USA or UK uses my first name und writes in a more informal style, it is totally fine with me.

And I also consider the background of the client. I think it makes a huge difference if it is the senior partner of a law firm, a young graphic designer, a translation agency, etc. who writes to me.

In the end, I mainly trust my gut feeling (and I try to verify the contact details and the given information, of course) to decide if it is a good idea to start a business relation with the prospective client.


 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:49
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It depends on the content of the letter Apr 17, 2013

The style doesn't bother me, but there are often red flags in the text that tell me I don't want to get involved.

 

NataliaAnne  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 17:49
Portuguese to English
Depends whether or not they’re writing in their native language Apr 17, 2013

Noni Gilbert wrote:

The client may not fully grasp register in English

So I will at least read the message. By now I'm not bad, I reckon, at sniffing out the suspicious!


Exactly! If a client is writing in a language other than their native one, it wouldn’t be fair to judge them on this. I would only consider inconsistent register and/or an overly informal style suspicious/unprofessional if the person claimed to be a native speaker.

Also, as Melanie pointed out, cultural differences and background need to be taken into account.


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 20:49
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I feel suspicious, Apr 17, 2013

but I read it and in the end I trust my common sense...

 

Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 21:49
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
Not a problem Apr 17, 2013

It's not so much lack of formality that makes me suspicious, it's more when they don't explain where they found my name/company or they use a gmail-address and there is no indication of their Company identy such as address, homepage etc.

 

Manescu Alexandra  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 22:49
Romanian to English
+ ...
I consider the offer.....even if ... Apr 17, 2013

I consider the offer.....even if maybe I feel suspicious too. I got some new great clients that way.

 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 21:49
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I read it carefully and consider the offer Apr 17, 2013

Many of my best clients are Scandinavians who expect me to be familiar with their culture, and they do write informally.

There are many shades of informal, too.
I check most of them carefully and consider what they are offering. Some get deleted fast nevertheless!

Friendly and literate Scandinavian informal is very different from

Hi
pls send ur best rates 117 pgs Danish-Engl delivery friday

Or the pain in the **** who has been ringing me all morning about my computer - definitely spamming or phishing.


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:49
French to English
Mine disappeared too! Apr 17, 2013

Mary Worby wrote:

I'd consider the offer as the level of formality of an approach would not be an influencing factor in any way. Unless it was in text-speak or verging on it!

And now my first post has reappeared! Hey ho!

[Edited at 2013-04-17 09:59 GMT]


But I'm back.
The question is not perfectly expressed. How can a client be unknown? I suppose the question means potential client or that we are to understand that the content of the mail relates to a request for translation services. Sorry to be awkward but as translators, we are default set to seek clarity!icon_wink.gif

In France, with two form of the personal pronoun "you", the formal "vous" and the informal "tu", then with certain exceptions, the choice of the pronoun sets the tone. An informal mail would not surprise me, but one of a familiar nature would. As to the exceptions, then individuals in the same milieu, sport, music, publicity, communication and so on, then the use of "tu" would not be much of a surprise. Too familiar a tone would demonstrate lack of respect and be considered impolite and may even offend.

In the UK, there has been a recent move towards the use of first names in business communications with people you don't know or have never met. When I left the UK 22 years ago, being on first name terms with someone you had never met was possible if you had exchanged correspondence, mails or had spoken on the telephone. I feel invaded when someone in a business or official capacity uses my first name, particularly for an initial contact. My UK bank manager does that and so do many official bodies in the UK.

However, it was to be expected that things would change in the UK. After all, what I describe above is common enough in the US and has been for years. It has never bothered me in the US, so I suppose I'll get used to it in the UK.

There is a difference between formal, informal and familiar. An business approach which is too familiar from a person I have never dealt with nor met, a complete stranger, would probably put me off right away. It is likely to be binned before I get to the final "Bye hon"!



[Edited at 2013-04-17 16:52 GMT]


 
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