Monday, October 7, 2013

Notes on Routine and Positive Messages

Writing Routine Requests

A.  State your request upfront.
-        Write in a polite, understanding, personal tone.
-        Use the direct approach because your audience will probably respond favorable to your request.
-        Be specific and precise in your request.
B.  Explain and justify your request.
-        Justify the request or explain its importance.
-        Explain any potential benefits of responding.
-        Ask the most important question first.
-        Break complex requests into individual questions that are limited to only one topic each. 
C.  Request specific action in a courteous close.
-        Make it easy to comply by including appropriate contact information.
-        Express your gratitude.
-        Clearly state any important deadlines for the request.

Common Examples of Routine Requests

A.   Asking for information and action
When you need to know about something, elicit an opinion from someone, or request a simple action, you usually need only ask.
-        What you want to know or what you want readers to do
-        Why are you’re making the request
-        Why it may be in your readers’ interest to help you

B.   Asking for recommendations
Companies before they extend credit or award contracts, jobs, promotions, or scholarship would request a written recommendation from the applicant.  This recommendation must come from a credible person who can vouch for applicant’s abilities, skills, integrity, character, and fitness for the job.
-        The candidate’s full name
-        The position or other objective the candidate
-        An indication of whether you are answering a request form the person or taking the initiative to write
-        Facts and evidence relevant to the candidate and opportunity
-        A comparison of this candidate’s potential with that of his or her peers, if available (for example, “Ms. Jonasson consistently ranked in the top 10 percent of her class”)
-        Your overall evaluation of the candidate’s suitability for the opportunity

C.  Making claims and requesting adjustments
If you are dissatisfied with a company’s product or service, you can opt to make a claim (a formal complaint) or request an adjustment (a settlement of a claim).

Strategies for Routine Replies and Positive Messages

A.  Starting with the Main Idea
-        Be clear and concise.
-        Identify the single most important message before your start writing.

I am pleased to inform you that after careful consideration of a diverse and talented pool of applicants, each of whom did a thorough job of analyzing Trask Horton Pharmaceuticals’s training needs, we have selected your bid.
Trask Horton Pharmaceuticals has accepted your bid to provide public speaking and presentation training to the sales staff.

B.  Providing Necessary Details and Explanation
-        Explain your point completely to eliminate any confusion or lingering doubts.
-        Maintain a supportive tone throughout.
-        Embed negative statements in positive contexts or balance them with positive alternatives.
-        Talk favorably about the choices the customer has made.

No, we no longer carry the Sportgirl line of sweaters.
The new Olympic line has replaced the Sportsgirl sweaters that you asked about. OIympic features a wider range of color and sizes and more contemporary styling.

C.  End with a courteous close.
-        Let your readers know that you have their personal well-being in mind.
-        If further action is required, tell readers how to proceed and encourage them to act promptly.

Granting Claims and Adjustment Requests

A.  Responding when your company is at fault
-        Be aware of your company’s policies in such cases before your respond.
-        For serious situations, refer to the company’s crisis management plan.
-        Start by acknowledging receipt of the claim or complaint.
-        Take or assign personal responsibility for resolving the situation.
-        Sympathize with customer’s frustration.
-        Explain how you have resolved the situation (or plan to).
-        Take steps to repair the customer relationship.
-        Verify your response with the customer and keep the lines of communicating open.

B.  Responding when the customer is at fault.
-        Weigh the cost of complying with or refusing the request.
-        If you choose to comply, open with the good news.
-        Use the body of the message to respectfully educate the customer about steps needed to avoid a similar outcome in the future.
-        Close with an appreciation for the customer’s business.

C. Responding when a third party is at fault
-        Evaluate the situation and review your company’s policies before responding.
-        Avoid placing blame; focus on the solution.
-        Regardless of who is responsible for resolving the situation, let customer know what will happen to resolve the problem.

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