High standards in business correspondence imply high standards in business • Business letters need: • Type of paper: professional-looking letterhead and good quality paper • Essential parts: all the eight essential parts • Layout: standard layout like fully-blocked layout • Language: concise /easy to understand; professional, factual and not emotional
We write business letters for a variety of purposes, like: • requesting information • ordering supplies • making and answering inquiries • making and responding to complaints • promoting a product/service
Essential parts of a business letter: • writer’s company address or letterhead (or writer’s name and home address, depending on the situation) • date • salutation • subject • body of the letter • complimentary close • writer’s signature, name and job title • reference numbers
Essential parts of a business letter: • The Work Place Pte Ltd • 33 Nanyang Street • Singapore 123456 • Tel: (65) 123-4567 • Telefax: (65) 123-4568 • Our ref: SJ/py • Your ref: • 10 July 2001 • The Managing Director • South sea Cruises • 12 Sothe Ave • Singapore 654321
Essential parts of a business letter: • Dear Sir/Madam • Inquiry Regarding Training Facilities • I am interested in obtaining details of the training facilities available on your cruise ships. • The Work Place regularly holds full-day and half-day training courses for the food and beverage industry. Courses are limited to groups of twenty and are workshop-based. We require: • - A room equipped with seminar-style furniture and able to seat twenty comfortably. • - An overhead projector and screen • - A VHS VCR and monitor • - Morning and afternoon tea facilities
Essential parts of a business letter: • We would be grateful for details of your facilities and an indication of the cost of both full and half-day courses. Please include the price of providing lunch for your full-day course. • As we are finalizing the details of our courses for October to December, I would appreciate receiving this information by 21 July. I look forward to hearing from you. • Yours faithfully • ZZ • Ziggy Zhang • Operations Manager
The Content • INTRODUCTION (Background/Basics) • Why are you writing? • Refer to a previous letter, contact or document • DETAILS (Facts and figures) • Give instructions • Ask for information • Provide all relevant details (separate into paragraphs for separate themes)
The Content • RESPONSE • Action for recipient to take • Action you will take • CLOSE • A simple, relevant closing sentence
Layout • Business correspondence must be • professionally displayed, • grammatically correct and be • error-freein punctuation and spelling.
Layout What is the recommended font/ font size for business letters? • Times New Roman 12 points • The fully-blocked layout gives business letters a neat, professional look. The two main characteristics of this layout: • Left justification: Start every line from the left • Open punctuation: Have punctuation only for full sentences in the body of the letter – don’t use commas or full stops anywhere else
FULLY BLOCKED LAYOUT • The main feature of the fully-blocked layout is that all lines commence at the left margin. There are no exceptions to this rule. • Most people combine the fully-blocked layout with the use of open punctuation. This means no punctuation marks are used outside the body of business letters. • No punctuation is necessary in the addresses, date, salutation and complimentary close. There is also no punctuation for the enclosure indication. • Care must be taken to ensure that not only is the first page of the letter fully blocked, but also any second or subsequent pages.
An e-mail differs from a hard-copy letter in these ways: • Company address • Company letterhead • Date • Recipient’s name and address • Writer’s signature • Writer’s job title
For e-mail, the following are not part of the standard fully blocked layout: • Company address • Company letterhead • Date • Recipient’s name and address • The writer’s signature – there is no need to sign an e-mail. • (The writer’s job title – this should be written after the writer’s name when signing off. )
MIND YOUR LANGUAGE • Make it Reader-centred • Make it Concise • Use Appropriate Tone • Use the Active Voice
Make it Reader-centred • Reader-centred statements • I am sure you will enjoy increased efficiency from using our power tools. • We would appreciate receiving your report by next week as a late submission may delay the review of your report. • Writer-centred statements • ACE power tools are efficient. • I hope the completed report will reach us by next week as your late submission can cause a lot of unnecessary inconvenience to us.
Make it Concise e-Learning Task 4 • ‘Fat’ phrases ‘Slim’ alternatives • With reference to regarding • In the event of if • In spite of despite • In the near future soon • For the purpose of to • In the course of during • In the position to able • At all times always • In view of the fact that because
Use Appropriate Tone • Tone is how your message sounds to the reader. • Controlling your tone involves selecting words and phrases that will help you project an appropriate image of yourself and your organisation.
Positive Traits • To write with appropriate tone, we must remember the following positive traits that human nature responds well to: • Be reader-centered • Emphasise what can be done, not what cannot be done • Use words that show friendliness and concern • Avoid negative words • End on a positive note, offering help where possible
Use the Active Voice • The active voice communicates directly and lets the reader know who is doing the action. • On the other hand, the use of passive voice may make sentences longer and de-emphasise the subject [Person doing the action].
WRITING A LETTER OF INQUIRY structure • Paragraph 1: Introduction • Say where and how you heard of the company • State the purpose of the inquiry • Mention the product, service or information you are interested in • Introduce your company and mention the scope of its business • Paragraph 2: Details • Request catalogues and price lists • Give details of your request • Give reasons for the request if writing in your individual capacity
WRITING A LETTER OF INQUIRY structure • Paragraph 3: Response • Ask for a quotation • Ask about the terms of trade, discount, delivery, etc • State what you need from them • State when you need their response by • Paragraph 4: Close • Conclude cordially
WRITING A LETTER OF INQUIRY • Some useful phrases : • To request information, you can use these phrases: • Please send us your catalogue and price list for ... • We would appreciate full particulars of your ... • Please quote us your most competitive prices for the goods listed below: ...
WRITING A LETTER OF INQUIRY • Now look at the letters of inquiry in your notes– an e-mail and a hard copy-version. • What are their similarities? • What are their differences?
WRITING A REPLY TO AN INQUIRY structure • Your reply must: • stand out from the rest • be carefully planned and phrased • be clear and precise
WRITING A REPLY TO AN INQUIRY structure • Paragraph 1: Introduction • Acknowledge the inquiry • Paragraph 2: Details • Answer all the questions, adding details where necessary • Refer to the catalogues and price lists, indicating clearly the merits of the merchandise • Refer to the price lists and emphasise the competitiveness of your prices • State clearly the terms of trade and discounts available
WRITING A REPLY TO AN INQUIRY structure • Paragraph 3: Response • State procedures and arrangements • Refer to the scope of your company’s business and its sales achievements elsewhere • Indicate clearly the significance of this to your present customer/client • Paragraph 4: Close • Conclude cordially
WRITING A REPLY TO AN INQUIRY • Some useful Phrases: • To acknowledge the inquiry, you can use: • Thank you for your letter of ... in which you ... • We are pleased to receive your inquiry of ... in which you ... • In your letter dated/of ... you inquired about ...
WRITING A REPLY TO AN INQUIRY • Please refer to your notes for other useful phrases • Do also look at the sample reply to Mike Wong’s inquiry.
WRITING A LETTER OF COMPLAINTStructure • When writing a complaint letter/e-mail, you should show no vindictiveness. • The language you use should always be restrained and factual throughout. • It is best to come across as cool, calm and business-like.
WRITING A LETTER OF COMPLAINTStructure • Paragraph 1: Introduction • State clearly the purpose of your letter • Refer briefly to what you want to complain about • Paragraph 2: Details(more if necessary) • Say in detail what your complaints are and be entirely factual – never openly criticise the company / organisation • Devote one paragraph to each major complaint
WRITING A LETTER OF COMPLAINTStructure • Paragraph 3: Response • Point out the inconvenience / the extra cost you had to bear with • Ask the company / organisation what action they intend to take to remedy the situation • If a particular solution seems obvious to you, you may suggest it but do not demand compensation • Paragraph 4: Close • Conclude cordially
WRITING A LETTER OF COMPLAINT • Some Useful Phrases: • Where necessary, use conciliatory remarks (remarks that try to overcome hostility and gain goodwill) such as: • I realise that you were probably not able to ... • I can understand that you must have been ... • I am certain that you were unaware of ...
Letters of Complaint (Serene and Faizal) • Read the two letters of complaint (Serene’s email and Faizal’s letter)and evaluate them. Which letter has the characteristics listed in the table that follows? • Description / Evaluation • Has included compliments to the company but has not overdone it • More likely to get a sympathetic hearing • Negative and vindictive • Pleasant tone
Letters of Complaint (Serene and Faizal) • Recipient may be inclined to resist the charges and may even reject them • Recipient may resent the tone and be defensive • The action the reader wants the company to take is clearly stated but it is not done so demandingly • The allegations are supported but in a way that the company is invited to contact the store to confirm the situation • The emotional content is played down • Faizal’s letter is the better of the two.
WRITING A REPLY TO A COMPLAINT STRUCTURE • Every time you receive a complaint, you should treat it seriously and at once look into the whole matter to find out if it is justified. • If it is, you should find out how the mistakes came to be made and what action can be taken to put the matter right. • Remember, the golden rule is to regain your customer’s goodwill and trust.
WRITING A REPLY TO A COMPLAINT STRUCTURE • Paragraph 1: Introduction • Acknowledge the previous letter and summarise briefly what was said • Apologize sincerely for the inconvenience it had caused the writer • Paragraph 2: Details • Explain in detail how each mistake had been made • Explain what action you intend to take to put the matter right – devoting one paragraph to each complaint you have to reply to
WRITING A REPLY TO A COMPLAINT STRUCTURE • Paragraph 3: Response • Assure your client that the same mistake will not happen again • Say clearly what compensation you are able to offer for the inconvenience caused • Paragraph 4: Close • Conclude cordially
WRITING A REPLY TO A COMPLAINT • Useful Phrases • When we respond to complaints, we should: • be courteous • apologise • make amends
WRITING A REPLY TO A COMPLAINT • What do you do if the complaint is not fair or justified? • Do not sound upset about the ‘accusation’. The challenge is to turn the situation around Remember that the last thing you want is to lose your customer!
WRITING A REPLY TO A COMPLAINT • Now look at these replies to complaints ( by Simon and by Joseph) – a hard copy and an e-mail version. What are the strong and weak points of each reply?
WRITING A REPLY TO A COMPLAINT • Simon’s e-mail • Strong points • Has subject line • Paragraph 1 acknowledges the e-mail and complaint • Weak points • Paragraph 1: negative phrasing could have been changed to positive; should not have said ‘no’ upfront • No cordial close
WRITING A REPLY TO A COMPLAINT • Joseph’s letter • Strong points • Paragraph 1 acknowledges the letter and complaint • Paragraph 3: intended action spelt out • Weak points • No subject line • Paragraph 2: inappropriate tone • Paragraph 3 makes reader feel unimportant • Paragraph 4 offers no apology for the inconvenience suffered and no guarantee that the problem will not occur again
Activity Worksheet • 1. Rewrite these sentences to make the letter more reader-centred. • We would really appreciate it if you could send us your completed responses by 7 August. We will then keep you posted of the results once we have compiled the information. OR • We would really appreciate it if you could send us your completed responses by 7 August. Respondents stand to win attractive prizes. • b)Exclusive promotion for building and construction firms!! Enjoy bigger loans and longer credit periods than any other bank in the region can offer. Sign up with CillyBank now!
Activity Worksheet 2.Cut out the blubber from these lines to make them conciseand precise. • a)We will be happy to replace the printer for you. • b)Please furnish us with details of the incident so that we investigate the matter as soon as possible. • c)Please provide us with the breakdown of the cost of each item as advertised in The Straits Times on (date month).
Activity Worksheet • 3.Improve the tone in by emphasising what can be done, and /or replacing negative words /thoughts with positive ones. • a) We would appreciate it if you could arrange for immediate payment. If payment has already been made, kindly ignore this letter. • b) We regret that we are unable to accede to your request. • c)Please let me have your reply by 9 September if you wish to close the deal. Please understand that I will have to make alternative arrangements if I do not hear from you by then.
Activity Worksheet 4 Writing a Letter of Inquiry and Crafting Its Reply • Printed letter(L) • e-mail(e) • Company address • Pre-printed (L) • Include when necessary (e) • Company letterhead • Pre-printed, makes a letter official (L) • e-mail sent from a company e-mail system is as good as an official letter (e) • Date • Key in; can be back/post-dated! (L) • Most e-mail systems show the date automatically (e)
Activity Worksheet 4 Writing a Letter of Inquiry and Crafting Its Reply • Recipient’s name and address • Name to be typed; address in letterhead so need not be repeated (L) • Equivalent to the recipient’s e-mail address (e) • Writer’s signature • Writer signs (L) • There is no need to sign an e-mail (e) • Writer’s job title • To be typed in (L) • Should be typed in after writer’s name (e)
Activity Worksheet 5 Writing a Letter of Complaint and Crafting Its Reply • What makes a letter of complaint effective? Look again at Faizal’s letter and indicate which features you would find in effective letters. • Includes compliments to the company but does not overdo it • Yes • Negative and vindictive • No • Pleasant tone • Yes
5 Writing a Letter of Complaint and Crafting Its Reply • Aggressive and threatening – makes recipient inclined to resist the charges and maybe even reject them • No • Talks down to recipient and is demanding – recipient may resent the tone and be defensive • No • The action the reader wants the company to take is clearly stated but it is not done so demandingly • Yes • The allegations are supported but in a way that the company is invited to contact the store to confirm the situation • Yes • The emotional content is played down • Yes