Deal With Customers in Writing or Electronically - Part 1
Communication plays a very important role in everyone's personal and professional life. Communication face to face can be a bit easy as you get to see the person, and look at their body language, and you are able to clarify things more easily than in other forms of communication. When it comes to electronic communication or communication through writing, you need to get things across clearly on your first attempt. It is important to use clear and concise language, look at risks involved while communicating information across, keep a check on the style and tone of the communication used and follow the organisation's guidelines and procedures relating to written communication.
This is a level 3 unit with a credit value of 6. This unit has been divided into two parts for ease of understanding and to not cram in too much information into one hub.
To read the second part of this unit, please follow the link below:
4.1 Explain the importance of using clear and concise language when communicating in writing or electronically.
When communicating in writing or electronically, clear and concise language has to be used to avoid ambiguity. One does not get much of a chance to clarify things, because you neither get to see the person face to face nor listen to their tone of voice. Also different people can interpret unclear communication in different ways according to their understanding and knowledge. So the language has to be simple, standard and clear in order for everyone to understand and pick up the information you are trying to get across.
Communications should never be sent out without reviewing and spell checking because errors reflect on the sender’s literacy skills/education and has effects on the organisation. The language has to be clear and the writing has to be short and to the point. Unclear writing can be misinterpreted in so many ways and hence clear writing is the only way to communicate effectively while writing either electronically or manually.
Clear and concise writing are important for the following reasons:
- It avoids ambiguity
- It conveys the message clearly
- It keeps the workflow steady
- It lets work issues be dealt with in a timely manner
- It saves money for the business because things are dealt with on time
- It increases productivity of the company and the team
- It leaves a good and positive impression
- It shows professionalism
- It shows that you are competent and proficient with communication abilities
Clear and Concise Writing
4.2 Explain the additional significance and potential risks involved in committing a communication to a permanent record format.
Because communications are important, one needs to write them in such a way that they are not misunderstood. All organisations keep written, manual and electronic communications as a permanent record. These can be anything from simple letters to huge business proposals and reports full of facts and figures that will be relevant to an organisation’s growth and business. These professional documents can be reviewed, edited, and revised so that all the parties involved are in agreement.
Letters and the telegraph were the only form of written communication used in olden days, but with advancements in technology, clients, customers and organisations in different parts of the globe can communicate instantly in writing, through facilities like email and fax. Emails have become the standard and most convenient method of communication.
These records that are communicated for various reasons and purposes have their own advantages and risks.
- It helps the business act in a timely manner
- Promotes professionalism
- Helps maintain a continuous business cycle
- Keeps details of accountabilities and commitments
- Helps to build relationships between organisations and with clients and customers
- Helps with future references
- Reflects the company or organisation’s standards
The risks that can be involved:
- Once communication is committed to writing, no changes can be made
- Errors can have serious effects on the growth and development of the organisation
- Wrong commitments can have disastrous effects during audits and inspections
- Errors can affect the running of the organisation and even lead to closing down
4.3 Describe the effects of style and tone on the reader of a written or electronic communication.
Written communication, whether electronic or manual, has widespread use these days in all business, academic, and other settings. Miscommunication can be an issue as different people understand things differently unless the communication is clear.
Written communications are used daily for so many purposes: personal reasons, work reasons, academic reasons, business reasons, etc. Different styles and tones are used in different situations and for different audiences.
For example, one should not write to a manager the same way they would write to their friend. While a casual form of writing is used while writing to friends, a formal tone and language have to be used while writing to managers and colleagues; they might consider a casual style rude and disrespectful.
- Written communication should be reviewed for errors and mistakes.
- The message has to be well thought out and organised in a logical manner.
- Make sure to include all relevant details that you want to get across.
- Use language and tone relevant to the audience you are writing to.
- Because gestures, body language, tone of voice and other clues present in face-to-face or telephone communication will be absent in written communication, tone plays an important role; it can make the communication either interesting or irritating.
- Style and tone have to go hand in hand in written communication.
Some of the effects of style and tone on written communication are:
- Jokes and sarcasm can be misinterpreted and offend the reader.
- Inappropriate words used to address the reader can be perceived as being rude.
- Unclear and disorganised writing can be complex for readers because they will be reading long passages without understanding much.
- If the purpose of the communication is not mentioned clearly at the start, the communication will make no sense to the reader.
- Even in written communications, you can save time and misunderstandings by inserting pictures, flowcharts or examples to make it easier to understand anything you are trying to explain.
- Writing all facts in one paragraph can be confusing; having different facts and thoughts in different paragraphs makes it easier for the reader.
- Formatting is another important issue; it can reduce clutter and confusion.
- Important points can be underlined, bulleted or highlighted for quick reference.
- Clearly state outcomes, if any, otherwise the reader can be confused.
- Written communication has to be proofread for errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation and formatting.
- Use formal language for business communications, as written words are more challenging than spoken words.
- The use of abbreviated names or nicknames may displease some readers in a business environment.
- When communicating with a client or customer who is not familiar with technical words, it is good to write in simple and plain English, or attach a glossary for explanation of technical terms, so that the reader will not lose interest in your writing.
- Acronyms should be avoided, as they are not always professional and not all readers understand them.
- By all means, avoid indirect messages that leave the reader guessing or in doubt, because they can lead to serious ambiguity.
- Avoid tentative, uncertain words as these can create confusion and will require further clarification.
- Be sincere in what you write and never use discriminatory language or words.
- Following the proper tone and style maintains the dignity and ethics of your organisation.
- All written communications reflect on the organisation and its employees
- The closing part of the communication also has to be written in a formal and appropriate way. Be polite, positive and professional.
How to write professional emails
4.4 Explain the importance of adapting your language to meet the needs of customers who may find the communication hard to understand.
As we all know, customer service is a department that deals with people from all around the world most of the time. We communicate with audiences who require different languages and styles of communication. One needs to adapt their language depending on the needs and requirements of the client or customer. Different customers might understand only specific dialects.
Adapting your language to meet the needs of customers who have difficulty understanding:
- Meets the varying needs of diverse customers
- Avoids frustrating customers by using technical words they don't understand
- Avoids confusion
- Instils trust and confidence
- Makes the customer feel comfortable and come back to us for business again
- Helps maintain a healthy and good relationship with customers
- Helps one to see things from the customer’s point of view
- Makes the customer feel valued
Tips to write effective emails
4.5 Describe your organisation’s guidelines and procedures relating to written and electronic communication.
Every organisation has its own policies, guidelines and procedures when it comes to all practices. The same applies to written and electronic communication too. Guidelines and procedures are put in place to make the communication system more reliable for users and also to prevent errors and misuse.
Our organisation’s guidelines and procedures are:
- No form of written or electronic communication is considered private.
- Designated staff shall be authorised to monitor communications at all times to ensure appropriate use
- Communications may be subject to monitoring without prior warning or notice and hence shall not be used for non-instructional or non-administrative purposes.
- Users using computers for electronic communication shall not share their logon details with anyone else.
- Staff shall not use written and electronic communication in office for personal profit, shopping, etc., and violations can lead to disciplinary procedures which can result in termination of employment
- Users should not send or receive inappropriate letters, faxes and emails, and should report suspicious communications to the manager.
- Staff or users do not have personal rights to any form of written or electronic communication received within the organisation.
- Staff will use secure or encrypted email systems to send and receive confidential information.
- Staff is not to impersonate anyone.
- Staff is to delete junk and chain emails that are unsolicited and intrusive, and not forward them or reply to them.
To read the second part of this unit, please follow the link below:
I hope that you found the information in this hub useful. This is purely for reference purposes only. If you have any questions or wish to share your experience, please do so in the comment section below.
All the best!