Understanding the Power of Business Letters Most workplace messages deal with routine matters that require straightforward answers Positive, straightforward letters help organizations conduct everyday business and convey goodwill to outsides A letter is a powerful way to get your message across
Business Letters are Necessary When: A permanent record is required Confidentiality is paramount Formality and sensitivity are essential A persuasive, well considered presentation is important
Direct Requests for Information or Action How to write an information or action request: 1) Opening- ask the most important question first or express a polite command 2) Body- Explain the request logically and courteously. Ask other questions if necessary 3) Closing- Request a specific action with an end date, if appropriate, and show appreciation
Open Your Request Directly Readers tend to look at the opening and closing Immediately tell the reader what you want This saves the reader time
The Body and the Closing Provide the necessary details Itemize the information to improve readability Close with an action request Tell the reader what you want done and when
Direct Claims When you as a customer must write to identify or correct a wrong, the letter is called a claim Written claims are often taken more seriously, and they also establish a record of what happened
Writing Plan for a Direct Claim Opening: Describe clearly the desired action Body: Explain the nature of the claim, tell why the claim is justified, and provide details regarding the action requested Closing: End pleasantly with a goodwill statement and include an end date and action request, if appropriate
How to Write a Claim Open your claim with a clear statement of what you want Explain and justify your claim in the body Avoid becoming angry or trying to fix blame State the facts logically, objectively, and unemotionally; let the reader decide on the causes Include copies of all pertinent documents such as invoices, sales slips, catalogues, etc. Close your claim with a specific action request Put it all together and revise
Direct Replies Example: a customer wants information about a product Writing Plan for Direct Replies: 1) Subject Line: identify previous correspondence or refer to the main idea 2) Opening: Deliver the most important information first 3) Body: Arrange information logically, explain and clarify it, provide additional info if appropriate, and build goodwill 4) Closing: End pleasantly
Adjustment Letters Even the best run and best loved businesses occasionally receive claims or complaints from consumers When a company receives a claim and decides to respond favorably, the letter is called an adjustment letter 3 goals in writing this letter: 1) rectify the wrong, if one exits 2) regain the confidence of the customer 3) promote future business and goodwill
Writing Plan for Adjustment Letters 1) Subject Line: (optional) Identify the previous correspondence and refer to the main topic 2) Opening: Grant the request or announce the adjustment immediately 3) Body: Provide details about how you are complying with the request; try to regain the customer’s confidence 4) Closing: End positively with a forward looking thought; express confidence in future business relations
Goodwill Messages What is a goodwill message? According to Chapter 6, what should a goodwill message be? Is email appropriate for goodwill messages?
Chapter 7: Negative Messages
Strategies for Delivering Bad News You may have to write business messages ending business relationships, declining proposals, announcing price increases, refusing requests for donations, terminating employees, turning down invitations, or responding to unhappy customers Because bad news disappoints, irritates, and sometimes anger the receiver, such messages must be written carefully
The bad feelings associated with disappointing news can be reduced if the receiver: 1) Knows the reasons for the rejection 2) Feels that the news was revealed sensitively 3) Thinks the matter was treated seriously 4) Believes that the decision was fair You have to know when to use the direct pattern and when to use the indirect pattern
Primary Goals in Communicating Bad News Primary Goals: 1) Make the receiver understand the bad news 2) Help the receiver accept the bad news 3) Maintain a positive image of you and your oganization
Secondary Goals in Communicating Bad News Secondary Goals: 1) Reduce bad feelings 2) Convey fairness 3) Eliminate future correspondence 4) Avoid creating legal liability or responsibility for you or your organization
Using the Indirect Pattern to Prepare the Reader What does the indirect pattern do when communicating bad news? When should you use the direct pattern to communicate bad news? How can you apply the writing process to communicating bad news? What are three causes of legal problems when it comes to communicating bad news?
Techniques for Delivering Bad News Sensitively 1) Buffering the Opening- begin with a neutral but meaningful statement that makes the reader continue reading; should be relevant and concise and provide a natural transition to the explanation that follows 2) Apologizing- sincere apologies work; apologize to customers if you or your company erred; apologize sincerely and accept responsibility 3) Convey Empathy- involves understanding and entering into the feelings of someone else 4) Presenting the Reasons- Bad news messages should explain reasons before stating the negative news 5) Cushion the bad news- position the news strategically, use the passive voice, or suggest compromises 6) Close Pleasantly- close with a statement that is positive and promotes goodwill
Refusing Direct Requests and Claims As a business communicator, if you have to say no to a request in writing, you can use the direct or indirect pattern If you’re using the indirect pattern, what should your writing plan look like?
Delivering Bad News to Customers Ways to do damage control: 1) call the individual involved involved 2) Describe the problem and apologize 3) Explain why the problem occurred, what you are doing to resolve it, and how you will prevent it from happening again 4) Follow up with a letter that documents the phone call and promotes goodwill
Denying Claims & Refusing Credit What is the reasons-before-refusal pattern? What are 4 goals a business writer has when refusing credit?
Delivering Workplace Bad News Smart organizations involved in a crisis prefer to communicate the news openly to employees, customers and stockholders When bad news must be delivered to employees, management may want to deliver the news personally Students: Describe the writing plan for announcing bad news to employees
Chapter 8: Persuasive Messages
Making Persuasive Requests Group Assignment: In your groups, define and discuss the following concepts from Chapter 8. Be sure to hand in your response sheet at the end of the class period.
Chapter 8 Questions 1) What is a persuasive request? 2) What’s a writing plan for making a persuasive request? 3) What can you do to create an internal persuasive message that persuades subordinates? 4)What is a “reasonable request” when it comes to writing an effective claim and/or complaint? 5) Why is it important to learn how to write a sales letter? 6) What is the AIDA pattern?
Chapter 8 Questions (cont’d) 7) What is a writing plan for a sales message? 8) How do you build interest using a sales letter? 9) What’s the difference between a rational, emotional and dual appeal? 10) Describe three forms of new media and how you can use them to convey company and product information.
Next Time… We will discuss Chapter 9 (you’ll have a quiz on Chapter 9) Your final report and online sales letter assignments will be given out Your Career Development/Action Plan will be due