This puzzle was found on Daily pack. Click to go to the page with all the answers to 7 little words March 6 (daily bonus puzzles). There are.
, Pages 227-231
, University of Illinois
, Arthur Andersen & Company
, University of Illinois
A limitation of existing research in the area of consumer satisfaction and dissatisfaction is its almost exclusive emphasis on adult behavior Yet, children also experience satisfaction and dissatisfaction. They purchase products, and certainly by their preteen years, they understand on a basic level how the market system operates and how to react when it does not operate fairly. The present study examines corporate responses to unsolicited letters from adults and children expressing either praise or complaint regarding a company product. Particular attention is paid to the comprehension level of corporate communications. Intriguing, if tentative, insights are revealed.
You send out letters,
you get back letters,
that's for sure.
For many Americans, the 1970s were turbulent years. The political climate was marked by distrust and disillusionment. Economically, the country facet high inflation, high unemployment, and ultimately recession. Ecological concerns abounded. Exposes of unscrupulous business conduct let consumers to call for more social responsibility on the part of private industry. In short, the time was ripe for activism.
Enter Lazlo Toth, fictitious champion of absurd causes. Through the pen of writer/comedian Don Novello, Mr. Toth corresponded with America's highest corporate and government officials. In some cases, he voiced a complaint; in many cases, he expressed support; in all cases, he made a humorous statement about the nature of communication between individuals and institutions.
In reality, the Lazlo Letters (Novello, 1977) probably did little to create a positive attitude among companies regarding consumer communications. As Landon (1979) noted, businesses in the late 1960s and early 1970s commonly believed that "consumers who write complaint letters are cranks and weirdos." These companies cited the small number of complaints as proof that complainants were eccentric and exceptional. This, in turn, provided justification for the lack of a consumer affairs unit in the organization.
The activist 1970s, however, witnessed a dramatic growth in the number of consumer communications, with increases of up to 30 percent a year (Landon, 1979). According to Blum, Stewart and Wheatley (1974), as the amount of negative correspondence rose, so did other, more positive types of communication.
In response to this trend, researchers began to systematically investigate the area of consumer satisfaction and dissatisfaction, amassing a sizeable body of literature over the course of 15 years. Robinson (1979), in a review of this research, noted the historical emphasis on the consumer. Studies have examined characteristics of complainers, theoretical bases of satisfaction, causes of dissatisfaction, and ways to measure the outcome of purchase decisions.
A second orientation has focused more on the business aspects of complaining behavior. Included in this research stream are subjects such as the incidence and type of corporate response and the function of consumer affairs departments within the organization.
Resnik and Harmon (1983) suggested that a limitation of existing research is its sperate treatment of consumer and managerial points of view. Communication of satisfaction or dissatisfaction is an exchange process, involving some sort of interaction between the consumer and the responsible party. Landon (1980) enumerated the steps in this process:
1. The Consumer evaluates the outcome of a purchase decision in the form of satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
2. The consumer decides whether to make this outcome known to the company.
3. A communication is then transmitted to the company.
4. The company responds to this communication in the form of various types of action.
5. Finally, the consumer evaluates the response and decides on further action, if any.
Rather than focus on one party in the communication process, the present study examined the interaction between these parties, as suggested in Figure 1. We took as a point of departure the decision to communicate satisfaction or dissatisfaction to the company (step 2). With that in mind, the study examined the last three steps in the communication process.
THE EXCHANGE PROCESS IN COMMUNICATING SATISFACTION/DISSATISFACTION
Children and Adults as Communicators
Virtually all published research on complaining behavior has centered upon adult consumers as opposed to children. Perhaps this is because adults are more likely to make purchase decisions and, by extension, more likely to evaluate the outcome of purchasing acts. Then, too, a certain level of intellectual development is required to 1) understand how the market system operates, 2) judge the worth of products, 3) assign responsibility for product performance, and 4) articulate satisfaction or dissatisfaction to the responsible party.
Admittedly, there is a wealth of literature on the acculturation of children into the marketplace. Studies have examined how children acquire, structure, interpret, and use information, particularly mediated information.
We know something about children's spending and saving behavior, and even more about their purchase requests and parental yielding. But researchers invariably treat the purchase decision as the last stage of the children's consumer behavior process. We could find no study which took the outcome of the purchase decision as a beginning point in examining children's satisfaction and dissatisfaction behavior.
There are several reasons why children's post-choice behavior is important. For one thing, children exert considerable influence in the buying process. They make direct requests both at home and in the store, asking for items by brand name as early as kindergarten (Ward et al., 1977). They also purchase many products themselves. Weekly allowances are fairly typical as early sc age five or six. By their preteens, young people often are working at odd jobs to increase their discretionary income.
To what extent do children evaluate the outcome of their purchase decisions? According to Gesell et al. (1977), they begin to judge some products as "a gyp" by the age of seven; by the age of ten, their sense of what is good and bad is fairly well established. Further ewidence of the development of evaluative skills comes from Ward et al. (1977). They found that 2/3 of third graders and 3/4 of sixth graders in their sample had negative experiences with products.
It seems reasonable to assume that by their preteen years, children understand on a basic level how the market system operates and how to react when it does not operate fairly. In fact, Robinson (1977) hag suggested that "[adult] complaint action may be a function of personal values acquired in childhood." If that is the case, then the positive and negative experiences children have with products may have an impact on their adult consumer behavior.
The purpose of this study was to examine the nature of organizational responses to unsolicited letters of satisfaction and dissatisfaction from both children and adults. Special attention was paid to the comprehension level of business communicationsCthat is, the extent to which the corporate message could be understood by its intended recipient.
Three major research questions were addressed:
1. Do companies respond differently to unsolicited letters of praise versus complaint?
2. Is there a difference in company response to communications from children versus adults?
3. How do children comprehend corporate communication?
Seventy-two letters are sent to consumer goods manufacturers in reference to the performance of one of the firm's products. The letters varied along two dimensions. One half were written from the perspective of a child; the rest were written from the perspective of an adult. Half of the letters expressed satisfactions with the product, while the remaining half indicated consumer dissatisfaction.
The letters were constructed explicitly for this proJect to ensure uniformity of content. Each communication included the following general pieces of information:
- identification of letter writer;
- purpose of letter;
- reason for satisfaction or dissatisfaction;
- request for some reply.
As part of the identification process, the letters from children stated the age of the letter writer (12 years old). The letters from adults stated the writer's occupation (professional), in lieu of age.
Obviously, a letter written by a child will vary from that written by an adult in terms of legibility, wording, abstractness of ideas, organization, and general writing style. To ensure that companies would recognize the age differential, we had 12-year-olds actually write the children's letters. The only guidelines we placed on the content were that the four pieces of above-mentioned information (identification of letter writer, etc.) be included.
The project spanned a total of six consumer goods categories, three of which were food related (cereal, pizza, snacks), and three of which were not (shampoo, cosmetics, clothing). Within each product category, three firms were examined to enable both within- and across-industry comparisons. Effort was taken to select product categories with applicability to both adults and children in at least the seventh grade (e.g., the cosmetics item studied is used by practically all women, young and old alike).
To summarize, then, each company received a total of four communications, one corresponding to each cell in the matrix shown in Figure 2.
DISTRIBUTION OF LETTERS
The unit of analysis was company response. As a first step, the data were content analyzed according to Krippendorff (1980) to determine:
- form of corporate communication;
- action(s) taken or promised in the communication;
- nature of enclosure(c).
Of particular interest was the extent to which the corporate communication could be read and understood by its intended recipient (i.e., child or adult). One means of measuring the complexity of written material would be through the use of readability formulas, such as those commonly utilized in the fields of education and journalism. Accordingly, two such techniquesCthe Flesch Count and the Fog Index--were applied to each primary business response (in most cases, a letter).
The Flesch Count
The best known formula in the history of readability measurement was developed by Rudolph Flesch. Its popularity can be attributed to both accuracy and ease of application. The Flesch Count measures the difficulty of reading a passage on a scale from 0 (practically unreadable) to 100 (easy for any literate person). It is calculated as follows from writing samples of approximately 100 words:
1. Count all sentences and all words. Diwide the total number of words by the total number of sentences. Multiply this average sentence length by 1.015.
2. Count all syllables. Diwide the total number of syllables by the total number of words. Multiply this average word length by 100; multiply again by .846.
3. Add numbers 1 and 2. Subtract this sum from 206.835. The result is the reading ease score for the passage (Flesch, 1951).
Regarding validity, the Flesch Count yields scores that correlate .70 with the McCall-Crabbs criterion. The intercoder reliability is in the .90s (Klare, 1963).
The Fog Index
Opposed vehemently to "foggy language," Robert Gunning developed the Fog Index. This formula measures the grade level required for understand written material. The steps in calculating the Index for passages of 100 words are as follows:
1. Diwide the total number of words in the passage by the total number of sentences.
2. Count the number of complex words (those of three or more syllables).
3. Add numbers 1 and 2. Multiply this figure by .4. The result is an approximation of the number of years of schooling necessary for ready comprehension (Gunning, 1968).
As a final step in the data analysis, simple product moment correlations were run across selected variables. Since most were nominal level (such as the various types of company response), these measures were treated all as dummy variables (e.g ., 0-no letter, 1-letter).
Of the 72 letters sailed to companies, 42 generated a reply, for an overall response rate of 58 percent. There was considerable variation in the rate of response across product categories. Pizza and snack manufacturers were the most likely to reply (with an 83 percent response rate). At the other extreme, clothing firms replied to only 25 percent of consumer communications. Perhaps apparel manufacturers felt that such comments could be handled better at the retail level. Responding to about half of the consumer letters were the remaining three categories: cosmetics (58 percent); cereal (50 percent); and shampoo (50 percent).
Even more variance in response rate was found within product categories. The greatest range occurred among shampoo manufacturers, where the response rate varied from 0 percent for one firm to 75 percent for the other two firms. Among clothing companies, the range in response was 0 percent to 50 percent. Pizza firms were the moat consistent responders. All manufacturers in this category replied to at least three of the four letters.
The 42 corporate responses were analyzed to determine the form of communication, type of action promised or taken, and nature of any enclosures. Results of the content analysis are summarized in Table 1. Because companies could reply in more than one way to a consumer letter, the percentages do not add to 100.
The majority of responses (93 percent) were in the form of a "personal" letter. The remaining 7 percent used a pre-printed postcard. While all of the letters included a personal salutation, they were for the most part fairly standardized .
The most frequent type of action, occurring in 86 percent of the cases, was to express appreciation for contents of both praise and complaint. In response to letters of dissatisfaction, companies also were likely to 1) offer possible explanations, and/or 2) defend company policy regarding production and handling of the product.
Occurring less frequently were actions such as forwarding comments to the appropriate party and promising to investigate. Interestingly, very few companies used the letter to offer advice about product use.
CONTENT ANALYSIS OF CORPORATE RESPONSES TO LETTERS OF SATISFACTION AND DISSATISFACTION
The most popular type of enclosure was coupons, included in over 50 percent of the business responses. Consumers were somewhat likely to receive brochures as part of the corporate reply. These could be simple public relation pieces or helpful suggestions for alternative product uses. Reimbursements and free gifts were rarely used, perhaps because of the cost and inconvenience of mailing.
Praise Versus Complaint
There was no significant difference in the rate of response to positive versus negative letters. Twenty-one letters of praise (50 percent) and twenty-one letters of complaint (50 percent) generated a corporate reply. The absence of variation could be due to the fact that each consumer communication included a request for some response. It could also reflect a growing tendency on the part of companies to take seriously all communications--both favorable and unfavorable.
While the rate of reply showed no variation, there were several differences in reply content. Letters responding to consumer dissatisfaction were significantly more likely to include a coupon for replacement of the same product as opposed to some other product (r-.38, p-.01). A possible explanation is that manufacturers wanted to restore the consumer's faith in the disfavored product. Letters of complaint were also more likely to result in a free good (coupon, gift, money, brochure) as part of the corporate response than were letters of praise (r-.35, p-.01).
Children Versus Adults
Twelve-year-olds were just as likely or unlikely to receive a reply as their older counterparts. Twenty-one letters from children (50 percent) and twenty-one letters from adults (50 percent) yielded some sort of corporate reply. Again, though, there were differences in the nature of the reply. Companies were more likely to require children to return the merchandise (r=.27, p-.05). They were also more likely to send a free good (coupon, gift, etc.) to adults, but only a letter to children (r-.25, p-.05).
Complexity of Corporate Responses
Given the age differential of the consumer sample, the authors felt it important to study the complexity and readability of business responses. One would expect that letters written to 12-year-old children would be much easier to read than those addressed to adults. The two indices used to calculate readability were the Flesch Count and the Fog Index.
Table 2 is a summary of responses received by children and adults along the Flesch scale. As the table indicates, there was virtually no difference in the complexity level of letters sent to adults versus those sent to children. Both groups received responses which fall predominantly in the fairly difficult to difficult range. While this should pose few problems for the adult recipients, it virtually assures that children will not understand much of what is intended to be communicated to them. Apparently, consumer relations personnel do not discriminate between letters originated by children versus adults, even when the distinction is clearly indicated, as it was in this study.
READING EASE SCORE FOR CORPORATE RESPONSES TO ADULTS AND CHILDREN USING THE FLESCH FORMULA
GRAD LEVEL REQUIRED FOR COMPREHENSION OF CORPORATE RESPONSES TO ADULTS AND CHILDREN USING THE FOG INDEX
Table 3 summarizes the analysis using the Fog Index. Again, corporate communications to adults and children did not vary in the educational level required to understand the content. To put these numbers into perspective, consider that in 1984, the median number of years of schooling for all adults aged 25 and over was 12.6. Only a few of the corporate responses to adults required schooling above this level, the highest being 18.2 years. In fact, most of the responses to adults required far fewer years of education than the average 12.6 years.
Communication to children, however, was not nearly as well-matched. The number of years of schooling completed by 12-year-olds is between 6.0 and 7.0. Not a single response directed to children, however, was written at this level of comprehension. The closest required 8.0 years of formal education. Indeed, a large portion of the communication sent to children would have required any-where from 12.9 to 15.3 years of schooling for comprehension, the equivalent of college-level education.
Children's Miscomprehension of Corporate Communication
It is intriguing that companies pay so little attention to consumer age in developing an appropriate response to expressions of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. The letters to 12-yearColds often contained elaborate sentence structure that required a college education in order to understand. It is generally acknowledged that one of the most desired outcomes of the process of communication is comprehension. Consumer behavior models consider comprehension to be a prerequisite to attitude formation or change. If the corporate letters are designed to maintain or restore goodwill, then comprehension is a necessary precondition.
To find out just what 12-year-olds were likely to get out of the corporate communications, we conducted a series of in-depth interviews with boys and girls in this age group. Each child was given the appropriate background and was then asked to read one of the corporate letters. After completing this step, the child was given three index cards, each of which contained one sentence from the letter. The child was asked to read each card, then state in his own words what the sentence meant to him. Space limitations prevent a detailed presentation of the findings. However, a few examples of corporate statements and children's miscomprehension are presented on the next page.
"In spite of precautions taken by us and by grocers, at some point a product could be exposed to adverse temperatures and might not maintain its high quality or perform satisfactorily."
"To keep it at room temperature."
"Comments about our products are very helpful to quality assurance and other appropriate personnel and are carefully monitored."
"The products were checked so there's not any poison in it."
"We are constantly working to improve existing products and packages while maintaining our high quality standards."
"They're gonna put new pictures on the packages."
"While we try to create new products which will add convenience and variety to your meals, we also seek to maintain those products which have continued to meet with so much favor and satisfaction over the years."
"I didn't get it."
"Your comments have been forwarded to our production specialists for their immediate investigation and whatever corrective action is required to prevent a recurrence."
"What does recurrence mean?"
Several limitations of the present study should be noted, each of which offers a suggestion for future research. First, the study was constrained by the use of a small sample. Examining only six product categories and three companies within each resulted in an initial sample of 72. Coupled with the 58 percent response rate, the final sample allowed only a glimpse of corporate response to consumer satisfaction/dissatisfaction. Future research should employ not only a larger number and diversity of product categories, but also a wider range of companies.
A second limitation concerns the use of fictitious letters. The strengths of this ethodology include the fact that it enabled measurement of actual company response; the feasibility; and the control over letter content. The major weakness is an ethical one. Hopefully, this problem was minimized through the use of both letters of praise and complaint.
Certainly, other methods could be employed to study corporate response, such as examining company files, role playing, survey research. However, each of these methods poses its own set of limitations. The proprietary nature of complaint data makes it difficult to gain access to company files. Asking executives to role play or complete self-report measures is likely to result in social desirability bias. Clearly, the ideal is to use real consumers with similar concerns about similar products and
a similar desire to express those concerns to the company.
There limitations notwithstanding, the present study yielded several interesting findings. One, the overall response rate was lower than that found in previous studies. To our knowledge, only two other published reports measured actual company response to consumer letters. Their respective response rates are given below:
Praise Letters Complaint Letters
Kendall and Russ (1975) NA 82%
Pearson (1976) 61% 74%
If only 58 percent of our companies responded, then what happened to the other 42 percent? And why the inconsistency in response patterns both within and between product categories? In some cases, a company responded to all four communications; in other cases, to just one or two; and in still other cases, didn't reply at all. Kendall and Russ reported a similar finding in 1975. Ten years later, it appears that some industry practices still have not stabilized.
Two, companies were just as likely to respond to letters of praise as they were to letters of complaint. This is certainly to their credit, and may be an indication that companies place equal value on both types of consumer feedback.
This apparent lack of discrimination led to the study's most important finding--namely, that companies did not discriminate between letters from children and those from adults. They communicated to 12-yearColds in virtually the same way they communicated to adults. This resulted in letters which used technical wording and complex sentence structure well beyond the comprehension level of the intended recipients. The level of miscomprehension was verified by our in-depth interviews.
Miscomprehension of business communication by children could lead to several undesirable side effects. These include continued dissatisfaction with the product, misuse of the product, and eventually disillusionment with the corporate communication process.
In conclusion, it appears that Blum and his associates (1974) were correct in pointing to the need for proper communication to maintain positive corporate attitudes and assuage negative ones. "Opening more effective channels of communication," they said, "may be a more effective goal than merely reducing complaints."
Blum, Milton L., John B. Stewart, and Edward W. Wheatley (1974), "Consumer Affairs: Viability of the Corporate Response," Journal of Marketing, 38 (April), 13-19.
Flesch, Rudolf (1951), How to Test Readability, New York: Harper.
Gesell, Arnold, Frances Ilg, and Louise Ames (1977), The Child from Five to Ten, New York: Harper.
Gunning, Robert (1968), The Technique of Clear Writing, New York: McGraw-Hill.
Kendall, C.L. and Frederick A. Russ (1975), "Warranty and Complaint Policies: An Opportunity for Marketing Management," Journal of Marketing, 39 (April), 36-43.
Klare, George R. (1963), The Measurement of Readability, Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press.
Krippendorff, Klaus (1980), Content Analysis: An Introduction to its Methodology, Beverly Hills: Sage.
Landon, E. Laird (1979), "Responding to Consumer Complaints: Organizational Considerations," in New Dimensions of Consumer Satisfaction and Complaining Behavior, eds. Ralph L. Day and H. Keith Hunt, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University, 91-94.
Landon, E. Laird (1980), "The Direction of Consumer Complaint Research," in Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 7, ed. Jerry C. Olson, Ann Arbor, MI: Association for Consumer Research, 335-338.
Lasswell, H.D. (1948), The Structure and Function of Communication in Society," in Communication of Ideas, ed. L. Bryson, New York: Harper.
Novello, Don (1977), The Lazlo Letters, New York: Workman.
Pearson, Michael M. (1976), "A Note on Business Replies to Consumer Letters of Praise and Complaint," Journal of Business Research, 4 (February), 61-68.
Resnick, Alan J. and Robert R. Harmon (1983), "Consumer Complaints and Managerial Response: A Holistic Approach," Journal of Marketing, 47 (Winter), 86-97.
Robinson, Larry M. (1979), "Consumer Complaint Behavior: A Review With Implications for Further Research," in New Dimensions of Consumer Satisfaction and Complaining Behavior, eds. Ralph L. Day and H. Keith Hunt, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University, 41-50.
Ward, Scott, Daniel B. Wackman, and Ellen Wartella (1977), How Children Learn to Buy, Beverly Hills: Sage.
PARENT SATISFACTION SURVEY AND COVER LETTER. 1. (Adapted with Permission from. Cornell Cooperative Extension, Monroe County, NY). Use the.
Wizard of Sound Mobile Disc Jockey's
CUSTOMER LETTERS OF SATISFACTION
I just wanted to write you a quick note to say thank you for Saturday. I couldn’t have been happier with you and your partner (I apologize but I forgot his name. Was it David?) A lot of people told us that you were the best DJ they’ve seen at a wedding and it was one of the best weddings they’ve ever been to. What is a good address for you so I can send you a formal thank you letter?
Regional Marketing Analyst
Gold Key / PHR Hotels and Resorts
1081 19th Street, Virginia Beach VA 23451
757-368-0273 x 3153
Just wanted to send a short "BRAVO ZULU" to say JOB WELL DONE to Angel Vega and on behalf of my daughter Brittani's Sweet 16 Party held on Sat, 12 Jan. The party's success was attributed to outstanding job Angel did throughout the duration of the party. His professionalism and ability to get the very best out of the kids was truly inspirational! Again, please convey our heart-felt gratitude and appreciation for the great job Angel did.
LCDR Leonard Treadway
Personnel Support Detachment Afloat (Atlantic)
1960 Dillingham Blvd, Suite 200
Norfolk, VA 23511-3220
My name is Jetaime Isaac and I received service from your company at my birthday party in December 2006. I was greatly pleased with the services of Gregory Riggins. He treated us with great music and was totally professional and courteous. Even though the night personally did not go how I planned because of several unplanned surprises and guest cancellations, Mr. Riggin's music was one of the highlights of the night. This party was where I met my soon to be husband, and I would greatly appreciate if we can use Mr. Riggins again on our wedding day on August 15, 2009, at approximately noon. Please contact either of us and let us know if this date is available as well as Mr. Riggins. Again, thanks for your service already and I look forward to doing business with your company especially Gregory Riggins. Thank you so much
I just wanted to pass along to both of you - FANTASTIC JOB! Meredith and I had a blast, our guests really enjoyed themselves, and it was due in major part to the music. Thank you for your contribution to our special day!
Hope you have a happy and successful new year.
I wanted to say thank you for your great show at the 07 VIA-106 holiday party, people were very happy with the sounds and variety of music, I cant begin to explain how easy u and your guys have made my last 3 yrs of planning parties and my little girls party. I will be in touch and hopefully u can give do my retirement party if things work itself out. THANKS AGAIN ED
I would like to thank you such much for helping our anniversary to be a success. Apologize for the confusing with the time. I appreciate you staying very much. I know that you stayed because you know us. We will not forget you and I will be sending more business your way. You were awesome as ways.
Have a great day.
PTG Revenue Coordinator
Electronic Systems, Inc.
369 Edwin Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23462
(757)217-1352 Direct Line
First off I want to thank you guys for sharing that day with us and truly making it special with your presence and love.
Mr. Paul Aponte
RE: Maria Padilla and Brian Gaiss wedding on August 5, 2006
We want to thank you for making our daughter's wedding the best wedding we have been to in years. You kept everyone involved and helped us keep on track with everything that needed to happen that night, so we wouldn't forget and regret it latter.
If you need a reference we would be more than happy to give one for you.
Out of all the services we had for the wedding yours was by far the best. The music variety was great. As we watched the wedding video it reminded us of how happy we all were with the job that you all did.
Luis and Clara Padilla
HAPPY NEW YEAR !
Lewis and I wanted to thank you for a job well done and for making my party just a success! Thanks again and we will pass on your information to friends and family! We look forward to working with you again in the future! GOD Bless!
Jean T. Montague
Quarantine Policy, Analysis and Support
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Above are the results of unscrambling satisfaction. Using the word generator and word unscrambler for the letters S A T I S F A C T I O N, we unscrambled the letters to create a list of all the words found in Scrabble, Words with Friends, and Text Twist. We found a total of 422 words by unscrambling the letters in satisfaction. Click these words to find out how many points they are worth, their definitions, and all the other words that can be made by unscrambling the letters from these words. If one or more words can be unscrambled with all the letters entered plus one new letter, then they will also be displayed.
1. act of fulfilling a desire or need or appetite
As of July 5, , registered intermediaries will be able to request a Letter of Satisfaction online ̶ one of the steps involved in continuing a federal corporation .
We take a look at how to put together a great customer service letter, giving examples to bring best practice to life.
Here is a four-step approach to help improve customer service letters, as recommended by Fran Fish of Mazaru.
Use simple, plain English. No jargon. Use headings and bullet points, so that the content is easy to follow and read.
Make sure there are no typos and all the provided information is “correct”. But the letter should also look and read the part – it should “look and sound like your brand.”
Answer all the questions that have been asked (and any that may come after). Get to the point quickly, as that’s the best way to reduce frustration and repeat contacts.
Using the right tone, that fits the reader (or customer) and the reason you’re contacting them. We expect the tone used in an apology letter to be different from the tone used in a special-offer email.
Fran also recommends that you “keep it personal and human and consider if a letter or email is really the right medium. Sometimes a quick, good-old-fashioned call works best.”
Keep it personal and human and consider if a letter or email is really the right medium. Sometimes a quick, good-old-fashioned call works best.
Remember, while in most cases it is good to stick to a customer’s channel preference, it is sometimes best to pick up the phone. For example, if the customer has sent three or more letters over an issue, it might be best to pick up the phone to nip any rising customer frustration in the bud.
As an example of how this four-part approach can be made actionable, below are two examples of customer service letters that were written by a car insurance company in response to the same customer query.
The first response is how the company originally thought of replying to the customer, following their old procedures. The second example is a rewrite of the first, which was created under the guidance of the four-stage approach.
The letters are responses to a customer query which asked: “Am I covered if my kids’ laptops get stolen out of the car while I’m holiday?” The customer’s query letter was signed off with both their first and last name.
Dear Mr [SURNAME]Thank you for your enquiry.
We apologise for the delay in our response.
Personal Belongings cover is provided for the loss of or damage to (some) personal effects while in or on the insured car.
The insured must take reasonable care of the property and this does not extend to money, credit or debit cards. The cover is also not provided for soft-top/open cars. The amount payable will be shown on the Policy Schedule. This covers you up to £300 per claim.
I hope this answers your query.
The Rewritten Letter (The Good Example)
Hi [First name],Thanks for getting in touch about your kids’ iPads. Sorry it’s taken me a little longer to reply.
If the iPads were stolen from your car we’d cover up to £300 of their value.
Tip: It’s worth checking to see if your home insurance will cover a higher value.
Just so you know, if the worst does happen (and you want to make a claim), we’ll need you to have taken ‘reasonable care of the property’. That means:
I also need to tell you that we don’t cover theft from open and soft-top cars. You’ll find more information about what is and isn’t covered in our Policy Schedule online.
If you decide to take out insurance with us, the fastest and easiest way is to apply online.
If there’s anything else I can help you with, please let me know.
Have a great holiday!
Fran Fish takes us through how the rewrite is an improvement in terms of the “clear, credible, answered and tone criteria”.
Mazaru and independent researchers ICM shared both car insurance letter examples with 2,000 consumers. The consumers were asked to share preferences and ‘next actions’, when comparing the two letters.
The results suggested that the car insurance company could benefit in each of the following ways by permanently switching to the style of the rewrite:
After reviewing the great results of the rewritten customer service letter, we wanted to create a template for a customer letter that was clear, credible, answered and used the correct tone.
So, we went back to Fran Fish, who provided us with the following:
[title last name/first name],[Title]
Subject of letter (not too formal, be clear)
Dear [title last name/first name],
If it’s a reply, say thanks for getting in touch about [topic].
Get straight to the point
What does the customer want to know? Why have you sent them this letter? If it’s an apology, then say sorry here.
Keep the reader’s attention
Break up long chunks of text into short sentences.
Stick to one idea per paragraph/sentence. This helps to keep things clear.
Rather than long lists, use bullets – remembering:
Final details, call to action
Give the customer the info they need. Tell them what they should do and give them everything they need to do it.
For further reassurance
Please let us know if you need anything else. Let them know the best way to get information online or how to contact (and when).
E.g. You can email us at [address] or give us a call on [number]. We’re here Monday to Friday, from 8am to 5pm.
Advisor’s own name
While many may question the use of templates, this example will help the contact centre to create a framework to make communication easier for advisors across all channels. It provides an easy-to-follow structure, while giving guidelines on where to personalise the response.
Templates do have their value, as Fran tells us: “They just need to be really well constructed, form part of an overall framework and be supported by training and QA (Quality Assurance). It’s when templates are created arbitrarily and aren’t updated that they become a challenge.”
Templates just need to be really well constructed, form part of an overall framework and be supported by training and QA (Quality Assurance).
So, when we advise you to use a template, it is better to present guidelines in a structure like the example above. Avoid templates with most of the wording already filled out, which advisors are asked to: “[INSERT NAME]” or “[INERT LOCATION]”.
We have come up with a list of letter-writing tips to be shared with advisors alongside the template highlighted above.
Your customers don’t have to shop with you. Acknowledging this is a great start to the conversation. Straight after the thank you is given, get into the “meat” of the conversation by answering all the points in order of importance to the customer.
After the initial thank you, it doesn’t hurt to continue to stress that “your business is very much appreciated”. As a customer, you don’t feel like you are being taken for granted.
It is best for an advisor to write as if they were explaining things to a friend or family member. So, try to break up long chunks of information into short sentences, stick to one idea per sentence and use simple words instead of complex phrases and acronyms.
As Fran Fish says: “Writing for service is hard. At school, we’re taught to form complex sentences and paragraphs and to build up our vocabulary. For service, we need to pare this down, to share information in a much simpler way.”
“So, if organisations are struggling to tackle communication channels, they’re in good company!”
In long letters, headings can be a great way to segment the text and improve structure.
Also, while it’s good to break up large blocks of information into simple sentences, bullet points are also useful, as they help to provide a better visual impact than big paragraphs of information.
If you open up a letter and all you see is words and long paragraphs, in the first instance, it’s hard to understand what’s important.
Fran adds: “If you open up a letter and all you see is words and long paragraphs, in the first instance, it’s hard to understand what’s important. Bullet points and headings are especially useful for this.”
“Headings are especially great, as they help to help signpost to the reader what is relevant to them, making the letter as clean and simple as possible.”
There’s a lot of confusion about what “professional” means in letter writing for customer service. Many believe “we need to sound and write as a professional company”, yet this is a common misconception and often leads to companies being overly formal.
This is according to Fran, who says: “Formal language is cold and distancing. It’s not right for customer service. There are simple techniques that can be learned to make letters professional and clear, without making them formal.”
The trick is developing a tone of voice that fits your brand. Train advisors to be warm, empathetic and positive and you’re halfway there, while using active language instead of passive language is also important.
Active language helps to take ownership of the customer query. You can test that you’re writing in the active by adding the words “by robots” to the end of each sentence. If the sentence still makes sense, it is written in the passive. However, if it doesn’t, it is written in the active.
The “by robots” tip is discussed in more detail in our article: 10 Best Practices to Improve Live Chat
To add value to the letter, direct the customer to any additional documents or guidance notes. This can help the customer to easily find information for themselves and prevent them from having to write to the contact centre again.
In turn, this helps to reduce repeat customer contacts. However, make sure further reassurance is offered, so the customer feels happy to contact again with another query.
While this won’t be applicable to all query types, offering next steps and time expectations is key when handling complaints, as they help to reassure customers.
As Fran says: “With complaint handling, all customers are really interested in is ‘are you listening to me?’ ‘Do you care about me?’ And ‘what are you going to do about it?'”
With complaint handling, all customers are really interested in is ‘are you listening to me?’ ‘Do you care about me?’ And ‘what are you going to do about it?’
Promotional offers, thank-you letters and booking confirmation don’t necessarily need “next steps” and, in some cases, offering them in a letter may increase contacts.
The template presented earlier gives further reassurance to the customer, offering them the chance to contact again and presenting further contact details. This helps to open the dialogue further.
Most customers are familiar with the feeling of dread that comes with making a complaint to a company… How long will I wait on hold? Will they believe me? Will my issue be resolved?
Opening up the dialogue early and promising a positive response helps to remove this worry from any follow-up contact that may be necessary.
Fran believes that “we all have the ability to be better listeners, improve our communication skills and build rapport though language and words.”
Customers like to feel as though they are being listened to. In fact, it is a basic expectation. So, try to use the same words as the customer did when describing their issue, to underline that they have been listened to, and mirror their preferred language choices to build rapport.
Also, see how the example template asked the advisor to say “thanks for getting in touch about…” The “about section” is important as it offers the advisor the opportunity to demonstrate that they were listening, while it also helps to personalise the letter.
Encourage customers to give feedback for the benefit of the community and to help future customers in their purchasing decisions.
By doing this, the advisor can help to reassure customers that the time they spend giving feedback isn’t just a “back-patting” exercise.
According to Fran: “What you may decide to do, if you have really well-written sentences stored in your knowledge base, is to string them together to form your letter. But this could end badly.”
“If someone decides to pull paragraphs from different types of letters together, but the intended letter is dealing with one particular thing, it might not be appropriate to have all of that content in there.”
The letter has to have a logical flow. You don’t want to be sending out letters that start with “sorry” but end with a promotional offer. This will only frustrate an already disappointed customer.
Find out our advice for saying sorry properly in our article: Customer Service Apologies – Keeping Sorry Fresh and Sincere
Below are three great examples of different types of customer service letters.
Here is a good response to a customer complaint about their credit profile.
Our response to your complaint
Dear [title last name/first name],
Thank you for getting in touch with us about your credit file. After looking into this for you, I’ve included my findings in this letter.
It might be easier to talk about this over the phone, so please give me a call if that would be helpful. I did try to call you a few times on [date] and [date] but couldn’t reach you.
You’ve been in touch with us because you believe we have registered “default” or “repossession” on your credit file.
Checking your credit file
I’ve checked your payment history between [date] and [date] and found that each payment has been made on time. I could also see that you made your final payment of [£amount] on [date], which settled your account early.
I can confirm that we have recorded each payment, including your final settlement, as “paid on time” and have not registered a “default” or “repossession” against your credit file.
I hope that this answers your question and addresses your complaint. If you’d like to discuss this with me over the phone, please get in touch. You’ll find my number at the top of this letter.
5 Good Things About This Example
In this example, a customer service letter is used to warn residents of repair and maintenance work.
We’re carrying out some work in your street.
We need to do some important repair and maintenance work outside [address].
This means parking will be restricted – we’ll put out cones to show you where you won’t be able to park.
[Time and date]
We’ll be finished by
[Time and date]
We’re sorry for the inconvenience – we’ll get the work done as quickly as we can. You can also find out more about why this happening and read regular updates on our website – just go to TheWaterCompany.com/streetworks
If you would like to contact us directly, call: 01234567890. You can also email: [email protected]
5 Good Things About This Example
While this may not be a perfect letter, there are many things to like about this customer service letter, created by Barnyarns.
Thanks to the Barnyarns team for sharing this example with us!
5 Good Things About This Example
…And 2 things they could improve on?
But while it includes a number of nice “ingredients”, here are two ways in which it could have been improved:
For more on putting together a good thank-you letter, read our article: How to Write a Thank-You Letter to a Customer
Thanks to Mazaru for sharing each of the letter examples that we’ve used in this article.
To find more of our advice on writing for customer service, read our articles:
Originally published in February 2016. Recently updated.
Definition of certificate of satisfaction: Formal document issued by a lender, certifying that the lien on the borrower's property has been released letter of credi.