Part 3 - Revenge of the Rant Queen, Episode 5: How To Write A Proper Business Letter, or, "This Is Not Your Myspace Blogger, Dangit!"
by Aimeyir, the Rant Queen - Posted Wed May 30, 2007 @ 12:03 PM
Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Business Letters 101". Today we will be discussing the ways to draft a letter suitable for posting on PFB, since so many of you seem to have lost that point completely. I hope this will be useful for frequent posters and new visitors alike. Dora, Virginia, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave. I'm pretty sure that neither one of you would get the point of this class and I'm certain that you don't want to waste your time and mine.
OK, now that that's done, let's begin, shall we?
The majority of the letters posted on PFB, if you have noticed, are complaints. This is a sad state of being, when more people are wont to complain about something bad rather than compliment something good. Well, you have an issue you wish to bring to a company's attention. What's the first thing you want to do, class?
That's right! Take a few minutes before starting to compose yourself and calm down. Try to remember all the facts and details before you begin. Names, dates, times, places, things that were said, all will be very useful. If it helps, make notes of these things before you begin writing.
Now that we've done that, class, what's next? Yes, writing the letter. I recommend using a word processor program to draft the letter, then copy and paste. This method helps to eliminate spelling and grammatical errors, and makes your letter look more professional. Now, keep in mind, we are NOT writing the Great American Novel here. The people reading your letter want clear, concise, and to the point, not an entertaining article. They can buy a copy of People for that. Allow me to demonstrate.
"Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to express my displeasure with the ABC restaurant's management staff. I went there on MM/DD at around X:XX p.m. with my significant other to have dinner. We ordered blahblahblah and yadayadayada. Our food arrived 45 minutes after we ordered and it was cold, and I did not get the side order of yaketyyak I asked for, even though it was on the bill that we received. I asked the server, Jane Doe, about the delay and requested that they re-heat our food, but she was rather rude and didn't say anything. We spoke to the manager, John Doe, but he was very unapologetic and did not stay to speak with us, much less offer any recompense.
Please reimburse me the $XX.XX that we paid for the meal.
See? Short, clear, concise, and full of detail. No race/status cards, no excessive demands. This is a good idea of how a business letter shoud read. Most likely this person will get what they are asking for, and if this is indeed a good business, a bit more for their trouble, even though all they asked for was a refund of their meal. Personal expressions, like "pain and suffering", and "I have never been treated so horribly! It was torture!" do not have it's place in a business letter of this type. If a phrase can be repeated with your hand on your forehead while swooning, and it makes sense, it's probably too dramatic to include. This is business letter class, not drama class. Drama does not get you more stuff, it gets you ignored. Leave out personal descriptions of yourself or your status. This can look like using the race/status card. Companies don't care if you are a Hispanic veteran of Vietnam, or if you are a CEO with a doctorate in business. You're still people, just like everyone else. Excessive demands are also a no-no. It is insensitive to demand someone be fired over this, or to ask for a lifetime of free product. Ask for what you lost, no more, no less. Also, leave out the bad words and the pseudo bad words. These do not look professional at all. "Freaking", and "treating people like crap" have no place in a business letter. Refrain from personal attacks. Those cause people to become defensive and once again, they will ignore you. Just like I have said before, clear, concise, to the point. Like Jack Webb from "Dragnet" is quoted as saying, "Just the facts."
All right, class, I want you all to draft a business letter in the manner that I have discussed here. They will be due tomorrow. Thank you, and everyone have a nice day.