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The Write Words Matter to You're Customers

Monday was National Grammar Day! Not only was it a day of great grammatical celebration, but also the ONLY date that is an actual complete sentence in itself. March forth on March 4th, so to speak. This great day is, according to the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG), “for people who crave good, clean English – sentences cast well and punctuated correctly. It’s about clarity. And who knows how many of the world’s huge problems would be solved if we had a little more of that?”  

I admit that I am a bit of a word snob. I appreciate the written and verbal complexities of our great language, and I have great respect for the correct usage of them. And while I don’t know how many of the world’s problems are going to be solved through a perfect sentence, I can say that a great many customer service issues would be better resolved. Without a doubt, your customers will appreciate a fast, clean, concise, well-crafted response to their inquiry. This will equate to higher CSAT, greater FCR, faster response times, and the perception that you and your agents care about what is being put forth by your company.

Now, there are exceptions. Social media and mobile responses absolutely need to be treated differently, if for no other reason than the space limitations often encountered. Chat and email responses though, should always be written with good grammar and precise punctuation. And with spellcheck available in every tool, misspellings are simply a travesty.

Imagine my excitement when I uncovered the witty “Brief Guide to a Better Email”, by Chase Clemons. Chase is a favorite around here, and this humorous and practical guidebook just might be what you and your agents need to craft better customer responses. I encourage you to check it out and pass it on.

If that weren’t enough, my grammar giddiness continues! Our ACCE Speaker of the Week is none other than Leslie O’Flahavan from E-WRITE, (her blog slogan is, ‘writing matters’). While at ACCE in Seattle, Leslie is speaking on “The Ten Commandments for Writing to Customers”. She’ll actually cover the gamut from email to social, so her material will be relevant to any written channel your content center supports. Participants will learn how to use fantastic written communication to build rapport with customers, and avoid those misspellings, punctuation errors, and grammatical mistakes that can severely impact FCR, loyalty and customer satisfaction.

You can get a better idea of what Leslie is referring to in her great blog post, “How well do the world’s airlines answer a simple email question from a customer?” She not only describes, but demonstrates what an effective email to a customer should accomplish.

As with all our ACCE Speaker of the Week profiles, we want you to get to know her a little better.

ICMI:   What excites you most about presenting at ACCE this year?

Leslie: Being part of the ACCE community. At each event, I meet great people and reconnect with presenters and participants from past events. I'm honored to be on the ACCE faculty!

ICMI:   What quirky customer service fact would you like our ICMI community to know about you?

Leslie: Hmm… a quirky fact? That's a tough one. In college, when I was a waitress, I could carry 17 bottles of beer at once, but I don't think that's the type of customer service fact you're looking for. Here's a more professional (and current) answer. As an expert in written communications with customers, agents' grammar or spelling errors make my skin crawl! (Alot is not the opposite of a little!)  But I can always see beyond the surface mistakes to what the customer service agent was trying to write to the customer. I'm a hearty fan of customer service agents. Even when their writing skills are rusty, I can tell they are trying to do a good job.

ICMI:  What is the one takeaway you hope to give your audience?

Leslie: I have a two-part takeaway in mind. (Actually, it's two takeaways, so I guess I am cheating…) Writing well to customers is important in all channels: social media, e-mail, and chat. Writing is a learned skill, and most phone agents who have excellent customer service skills can be coached or trained to be successful writers.

ICMI:  What is the one question YOU hope to get an answer to while at ACCE?

Leslie: "Are good customer service writers born or made?"

ICMI: What is the best customer experience you’ve had where you’ve been on the customer side?

Leslie: Lately, I have been noticing that companies give me lots of attention as a customer, but I am not getting a lot of service. As a customer, I have received direct messages, phone calls, and e-mails from a company but no solution to my problem. I was certainly heard, but I was not served. So I was especially impressed when a customer service agent in AT&T's Office of the President explained that he couldn't solve my problem, but he was sure that if I switched my phone service to Verizon, they'd be able to help. That's what I did, and it worked!

I will leave you with the words of Aristotle, “In general, what is written must be easy to read and easy to speak; which is the same”.  And if you find any grammatical errors or poor punctuation in the above, please send me an email. A well-crafted email, that is.