Just recently, I started considering how much time I spent on my computer, and particularly how much time I spent reading and composing e-mails. I look at my e-mail in the morning, multiple times through the day, even at night. Some of the e-mail is personal but quite a bit of it is for business.
And then it hit me—so much of what is customer service happens long before we ever see the customer’s face. It comes in the form of e-mails, newsletters, blogs, and so many other ways. We emphasize our training and conduct concerning what we do and say when we are face-to-face with the customer. Both are extremely important, but we rarely think about what we say and how we say it when we write.
Follow the same rules and guidelines as if you were face to face with the customer. Be polite, be courteous, and be thoughtful. However, with the written word, you have to be a bit more careful and more aware of how you say something. When you are face to face with the customer, they can hear your tone and read your body language but in the written word, the customer does not have your vocal tone to go by. Intentions can be easily misinterpreted so be aware of your word choices.
Be aware of grammar and punctuation. When speaking, it is generally acceptable to use colloquialisms, but when writing a business e-mail to a customer or sending out a mass newsletter, you cannot write like you speak. You have to remember all those grammar rules you learned back in the sixth grade, not to mention all the punctuation rules. When you speak, little apostrophes and commas don’t come flooding out of your mouth in the middle of your sentences; but if they are missing in your writing, the customer will notice your mistakes and you will seem unprofessional if they spot mistakes on a regular basis.
With those rules said, how do you prevent trouble in the written word? Find a great editor. Do not send an e-mail or a newsletter that has not been reviewed multiple times by you, yourself, and by someone else (when possible). If you are sending a newsletter, you will need several editors to look through the draft to ensure perfection.
My grandmother always used to say that sticks and stones could break my bones but words could never hurt me—such an untrue statement. Words leave a lasting impression.
Make sure the impression your words leave is a good one.