How to write Business Letters?

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(Main Characteristics)

"Good correspondence is the soul of successful business. Without correspondence there can be no trade. Modern business is the greatest romance of the age. It spins out money which can buy law and life".

A business letter needs a careful drafting because a well-written letter can go a long way in producing desirable results. It may clinch a sale, sort out a complaint or fetch a customer. It is a very straight forward document, but, at the same time, friendly and conversational in tone. It is also a substitute for a personal talk or conversation an on telephone.

Let your letter be a credit to yourself and your firm. Such a letter cannot be written by just anybody. It is an expert's job. If the letter has mistakes and faulty constructions it can do serious damage to business dealings.

However, there is nothing very complicated about these letters. In every company large amount of business and considerable sales are done through mail. Thus, every letter has its bearing on the balance sheet. Every outgoing letter is a spokesman of the company's policy. It is silent but not dumb. It helps to increase the reputation of the firm. It opens markets and outlets for goods and services. It is a way to make profit.

Since the business has become extremely complicated now a day, the ability to write good business letters is an asset. The correspondence between the head office, branches, production, units and sale a depot makes the functioning of a company smooth. Thus, a letter has both internal and external uses and importance.

Considering the fact that a letter gets only a few minutes of the reader's attention, the message must be clear, correct and concise. The letter should be well organised as to perform multiple functions of conveying a message, building good will and creating a favourable response. It is difficult to avoid negative ideas but what matters most is how they are put. A skillful correspondent handles the negative attitude with a tactful positive approach. Almost all negative ideas can be put in a positive way e.g.

Negative

1. We cannot dispatch the consignment until you inform where it is to be delivered.

2. We shall be careful to avoid delay in future.

3. Unless the old dues are cleared, further goods cannot be dispatched.

Positive

We shall dispatch the consignment as soon as you let us know where it is to be delivered.

We shall take care to ensure prompt delivery in future.

You are risking your own goodwill by delaying our payment.

Everyone has a style of his own. But, however good it might be, there can be scope for further improvement. A good style is an asset to a writer. And it can be perfected with practice and training. For an effective letter the correspondent must have a clear knowledge of the product, the services or the subject he is dealing with. And he must put all this with a flow of good and impressive language.

For an organisation or a commercial set-up, correspondence has a vital bearing on its relations with customers. Invariably, the prime need for giving a clear-cut and simple message is that there is no difficulty in understanding the message conveyed.

Simple and natural language is the key to good business correspondence. The letter should be friendly in tone and content. In your telephonic conversation you would not say, "It is regretted that the goods cannot be delivered today". Rather say, "I am sorry, we cannot deliver the goods today". Thus, the letter should be framed keeping in view what the situation demands, and as implicitly as one spends with the other.

Some tips for good letter writing:

For writing effective business letters, we are giving some useful tips below:-

1. While writing a business letter keep in mind that you are writing to. Give all the information he needs clearly so that there is no guessing on his part.

2. Catch the attitude of the incoming letter and reply accordingly.

3. Use conversational language in the letter, wherever required.

4. Be clear, courteous and precise. Avoid ambiguity.

5. Be as polite and polished as possible.

6. Avoid using high sounding words. If the letter demands, the reply should be elaborate and detailed one.

7. Discard stereotyped language.

8. Use effective phraseology.

9. Avoiding monotony and dryness, introduce variety in the letter.

10. A long letter should be divided into paragraphs.

11. The opening should be particularly catchy, as it has lasting impact on the reader.

12. Revise the letter before closing it.

13. Avoid repetitions.

The tips explained in detail:

Keep you letter's reader in mind:

This can be best done by keeping the reader's point of view in mind. Anticipate his feelings, requirements and give sure and subtle replies. Visualise the letter's impact on yourself. If it is impressive and effective, the job is done.

Catch the attitude:

The reply should be in tune with the letter received. Think out the objective clearly and then reply accordingly. Skill, tact and practice are necessary for tackling different queries and approaches.

Use natural and conversational language:

The letter's tone should be friendly and natural. It should be simply written to convey a message for impressing the reader:

Avoid

1. I have pleasure in informing you

2. Please be good enough to advise us

Write

I am pleased to tell you (or to say) Please let us know

Write clear and definite language, avoiding ambiguity:

Think before you write. Express yourself in clear and simple language. Avoid using stereotyped language. It should not cause reader's guessing, but being definite. It should also be unambiguous.

Be courteous and considerate:

'Courteous' does not mean that unnecessary adjectives are used. E.g., ‘Your esteemed order', etc. Your approach should be on the positive side without meaning any discourtesy.

Avoid business jargon:

Avoid the use of words and phrases which the reader fails to understand easily. Jargons are the words that are specific to a subject and should not be used in general letters. The letter should be short, simple and to the point. Lengthy letters bore the reader.

Avoid

1. We express our regret at being unable to fulfill your order on this occasion with customary promptness

2. Under active consideration

3. With reference to

4. In connection with

5. It should be noted that

Write

We are sorry we cannot meet your present order immediately.

Being considered

About

For

Please note

Discard stereotyped language:

Modern business letters do not use old terminology that make the letters stereo-typed.

Avoid

1. Adverting to your letter

2. We beg to acknowledge

3. Your esteemed favour to hand

4. The favour of your early reply will oblige.

5. Under separate cover

6. Your good self

7. Kindly take into consideration

8. Assuring you of our best attention at all times.

Write

Referring to your letter

We have received

Received your letter

An early reply is expected

Separately You

Please consider

We will pay full attention

We assure you of the best of our attention.

Use effective phraseology:

The letter should be simple and easily understandable. Use of familiar and easy words is desired.

Avoid

1. Communication

2. Will you be good enough?

3. In the near future

4. It gives much pleasure

5. We will execute your order expeditiously

6. We beg to acknowledge receipt of your favour

Write

Letter

Will you please?

Soon, shortly

I am pleased; I am happy

We will process your order promptly

Thanks for your enquiry/order

Introduce variety:

Avoid monotony and repetition. Use active voice on the whole but for variety use passive voice at places.

Avoid

(i) Please let me know at once if you are unable to deliver the goods or not.

(ii) We have noted with surprise the contents of your letter.

(iii) We dispatched the goods on 15th

(iv) You did not sign the order form

Write

If you are unable to deliver the

Goods, please inform me/us immediately.

It was with surprise that we noted the contents of your letter.

The goods were dispatched on the 15th. The order form was not signed.

Opening and closing of effective letter:

A. Opening

Although Thank you for your letter', this refers to your letter' etc., are normally used one can introduce variety with expressions like 'I was glad to receive your letter', 'When I received your letter of ' etc.

6. Closing:

Avoid

1. We shall deal promptly with any orders you place with us.

2. Thanking you in anticipation.

3. Hoping to hear from you soon.

4. Trusting this meets with your approval.

Write

Your orders will be dealt with promptly.

Thanking you/Thank you.

I hope to hear soon from you

I trust you will approve of this.

Revising the letter:

Ruse your letter before signing and revise if necessary before mailing it. Also put the following questions to yourself: (i) Is the letter impressive?

ii) Is the letter well drafted?

iii) Are spellings and punctuation correct?

iv) Is the message clear and simple?

v) Does the letter fulfill the reader's needs?

vi) How would you, yourself, react to such a letter?

If all the above questions have a positive reply, your letter is ready to be mailed.


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