Monday, December 12, 2011

A five-minute fix

I frequently see business writing that (1) confuses and insults the customer and (2) could be fixed in five minutes or less. Here’s an example from an email I received.


Your order has been processed and shipped. You may track your package/s after 8:00pm at or with the following tracking number:

Date Shipped


Tracking Number:

Please note: If no tracking number appears above, your order has been sent via U.S. Postal Service. Please allow 3-5 business days for delivery via U.S. Mail.


Although the company apparently has set up an automated shipping confirmation system, the company has not bothered to set up separate message formats for UPS shipments, FedEx shipments and USPS shipments. Instead, the company sends a confusing “one-size-fits-all” message to all customers.

Five-Minute Fix

If the company had set up three separate message formats, the message I received could have read like this:

We shipped your package 11/07/11 via First-Class Mail. It will be delivered to you in 3-5 business days.

The Takeaway: Intelligent customers understand that good business writing takes time and that your time is limited. They don’t expect perfection. But they do expect you to make easy, five-minute fixes like the example here.

See disclaimer.

1 comment:

  1. You are right. It takes time to make a good letter. but interms of business who is sending to many letters a day it is better to make it simple and short.

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