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08 June 2010

Writing clearly shows that you respect your clients

We’re renovating a house at the moment. I am amazed at how I’m making decisions — I just realised I’m choosing to use companies’ services based on how clear their writing is.

I emailed about eight property valuers asking for quotes. One valuer rang me and answered my questions over the phone. She was just lovely, and she mentioned she’d follow up the phone call with an email. As soon as I got the email, I was put off. The email was full of phrases she didn’t use on the phone to me, like ‘should you wish to proceed’ and ‘we can sometimes expidite this if required'. She suddenly seemed pompous, stiff, and distancing. I guess I was also put off by assuming that it would be difficult to read her report after the valuation.

By contrast, transferring the mortgage to Kiwibank has been a pleasant experience. All the paperwork I’ve received from Kiwibank has spoken to me like a normal person talking to another normal person. It has a direct, clear tone, with few complex words. Very little in the writing has confused me. The Kiwibank lawyers’ documents are written clearly too. I’m most impressed, and I’ve discovered I look forward to receiving their documents in the mail.

I can’t be the only person who judges service companies by their writing. To me, it makes such sense to write clearly — to write how you would speak if you were face to face with a client. Writing clearly means you don’t distance your clients or make them feel stupid because they don’t understand the terms you use. Writing clearly means your clients feel like your equals. They feel you respect them. So they warm to you, and you get their business.

1 comment:

  1. Great points, Colleen.

    And the respect is two-way. I've heard people complain that if they don't use complex sentences and long words, their readers won't think they are well-educated, and will doubt that their message is important.

    My experience is the opposite - people respect those who can make reading easy. They understand that being clear takes effort and trouble (just as reading unclear writing takes effort and trouble).

    Difficult writing isn't more important or more impressive; it's just difficult.