Claims and Adjustments Requests:
Start with: a simple statement of the problem
Write the letter as soon as possible after the incident has happened
Don't cloud the issue, make it as straightforward as possible
Use a tone that is confident, factual, fair, and unemotional (Don't get angry!)
In the middle: give more specifics about the problem
Present the facts honestly, clearly and politely
Do not use threats, sarcasm, exaggeration, or hostility.
Maintain a non-argumentative tone to show you believe in the reader's fairness
Do not accuse anyone of anything unless you can back it up with documentation
To help accomodate your reader, praise something about the product or company. Try to say something positive.
State clearly what you think is a fair settlement
Provide copies of any necessary documentation (invoices, cancelled checks, confirmation letters, etc.) Make sure to keep the originals!
Finish with: a brief summary of the desired action
Make sure to sum up your main point and what you want your reader to do
Close with a complimentary closing, giving contact info and a thank you
Favorable Responses to Claims and Adjustments:
Start with: an expression of your good will
Right off the bat, state your willingness to honor the claim of the reader.
Hold back from negative comment
Accept your reader's account as completely accurate unless "good business practices" dictate that you should interpret it differently
Thank the reader for taking the time to write
In the Middle: explain how you are going to fix it
Play down any disagreements with your reader's interpretation of what happened
If appropriate, provide an objective, nonvindictive, impersonal explanation
Apologize only when there is no other alternative, "then do so crisply without an overly apologetic tone"
Offer support to your reader by using phrases like "thank you for," "may we ask," "Please let us know," and "we are glad to work for you" and the like
Admit your firm's faults with great care. Avoid pointing the finger, implying company inefficiency, or making any kind of promise you might not be able to keep
Also be careful when you are talking about the customer's role in the problem situation
End With: a reminder that your company has honored the claim
Show your company has done their part in the situation
Clarify any actions that your reader must take
Encourage the customer to look favorably on your company and/or the product in question
Look forward to continued business in the future but don't come off as greedy
Back to Assignment #5
Adapted from: Bovee, Courtland L and John V. Thill, eds. Business Communication Today. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. 2000.