Tip #1: Make sure you understand what your customer is really asking. (actual email):
From: Vlad Mazek [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2007 5:39 PM
To: Robert Belon
Subject: RE: VOIP CODECs
WTF, did you really send me an essay question?
Vlad Mazek via PocketPC
CEO, Own Web Now Corp
From: Robert Belon <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2007 17:20
To: Vlad Mazek <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: VOIP CODECs
What VOIP CODECs do you prefer? Why?
To the naked eye, this email looks like an essay which is something you should NEVER send to ANY customer. Ever. Why? Anyone asking an open ended question is just trying to figure out what they need to know so they can send you a followup question. When you see it, pick up the phone and CALL them. Have a conversation, take notes, ask them more questions to find out what THEY wanted to hear. Then answer them. Do not lead with the answer.
In the example above Bob seemingly asked me to compare and contrast my choices for VoIP codecs, along with explaining my choice. What he actually wanted to know:
“Hey, which VoIP Codec should I use, anything free thats good enough or do I have to pay?”
Pretty simple, 1 word answer. Please note that Bob is a good friend and this is his hobby project, chose more careful language when dealing with people you don’t know