Happy Friday, folks! The ending of this week heralds the beginning of August—the last month of the kids’ summer holiday, your spontaneous beachy escapades, and those nights spent sleeping across two chairs on the porch because your third-floor apartment’s too hot for human habitation and A/C is expensive, darn it.
Perspiration struggles aside, the word “August” can be traced back to the Latin agnomen Augustus, which means “venerable.” Coincidentally, “venerable” is exactly how we want clients and writers to treat one another when exchanging correspondence and feedback! This isn’t a seasonal expectation, either. Filtering all your interactions with clients through a tight net of R-E-S-P-E-C-T is great practice all year ’round. Heck, I’m even an advocate for respecting regular people on a day-to-day basis—but a good place to start is definitely with whoever helps facilitate your financial stability.
Offering respectful correspondence as part of your customer service package means the client’s more likely to work with you, we’re more likely to recommend you, and that stray brusque remark doesn’t escalate into a full blown HD ticket. Everybody wins and nobody feels slighted!
Rules of the Respectful Correspondence Road
I like to think that, as writers, we should be able to craft respectful, professional emails with ease. In the real world, though, we run out of time to fully deliberate over our responses before hitting “send.” We get into situations where our livelihood’s on the line and we need to defend ourselves. Sometimes, being curt becomes the professional thing to do; the person at the other end of the line might not understand the gravity of the situation otherwise. It isn’t easy to maintain a thoughtful, courteous tone in every message.
All that being said, we like being able to brag about the quality of customer service our writers provide—and we want you to be a part of that! Based on the correspondence I’ve seen and received from writers across the WriterAccess platform, here are some tips for forming messages to clients (and WA staff…because we’re, you know, people and stuff):
- DO ask questions when you need more clarification to proceed with an order. No need to get accusatory about what he did or didn’t include—just gather the information you need and get to work! And if any instructions are unclear, it’s almost always best to ask for clarification before proceeding without it.
- DO say thank you for information, feedback, the opportunity to work on the order, et cetera. If there’s something the client’s doing right, letting them know will make sure they continue doing that thing (which means more happy writers…neat-o).
- DO own up to mistakes if you make them. Admitting when you may have misinterpreted an instruction or otherwise flubbed up reminds the client that you’re not an automaton, and you can move on to the revision with good vibes and better directions.
- DO convey enthusiasm and personalism whenever possible and appropriate. Ending a message with a smiley face is a personal and significant lifestyle decision. If emojis aren’t your style, the occasional exclamation point can really pack a punch (of amiability and friendly service).
- DO proofread all correspondence, even if it’s a super quick spellcheck. Catching obvious errors in your messages assures the client that you’re a professional, and one who wants to provide customers with the attention they deserve.
I’m feeling pretty positive what with the weekend and all, so I’m only going to leave you with a single Don’t: DON’T ABUSE PUNCTUATION AND CAPITALIZATION!!! This sounds very twenty-something of me, but laying off the caps lock seems like grade school netiquette. Let’s all relax, exchange some I-messages, and get back to work.
Got your own feelings about the best way writers and clients should correspond with each other? Feel free to chime in with a comment below.