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Post archive for October, 2011
October 27, 2011
During a live chat session with a customer service agent, I tried to cancel my ancient EarthLink e-mail account. (I know - having ever had an EarthLink e-mail account makes me about as cool as orthodontic headgear, but in the early part of the 21st century, I had my reasons ...)
The customer service agent, "Jane D," did a good job. She let me know that I could not cancel my account during the chat session. When I explained that I wanted to cancel in writing, she provided EarthLink's fax number and told me what to include in my fax. I got one-and-done, actionable service.
But Jane D's diction was odd! Her unusual phrasings include:
- please may I know the reason as to why you are looking to cancel
- at chat we are limited to give the information
- one of the associates will put in the best effort to help you do the needful today
I suspect English is not Jane D's first language, and I have to admire her for writing so smoothly in a second language. But I think that her less-than-complete grasp on American English phrasing erodes the overall quality of the chat. Read on...
Transcript of EarthLink Live Chat
Welcome to EarthLink LiveChat. Your chat session will begin in approximately 0 minutes. Feel free to begin typing your question.
- "Jane D" says: Thank you for contacting EarthLink LiveChat, how may I help you today?
- LMO@earthlink.net: I want to cancel my earthlink account
- Jane D: I am sorry to know that you wish to cancel the account.
- Jane D: Please may I know the reason as to why you are looking to cancel the account with EarthLink?
- LMO@earthlink.net: I don't need the account any more
- LMO@earthlink.net: Please confirm that you will close out the account and that I will not be billed for service after today, October 27
- Jane D: That is Okay, I understood.
- Jane D: I will certainly help you in this regard.
- Jane D: Here I would like to inform you that, At chat we are limited to give the information but the cancellation involves your verbal agreement so please contact us on the voice number 888 327 8454 (working hours 7am - midnight EST M-F or 8am - 10pm EST Sat/Sun) and one of the associates will put in the best effort to help you do the needful today.
- LMO@earthlink.net: I don't want to call in. I want to cancel my account in writing.
- Jane D: As per our cancellation policy, I cannot cancel your account through Live Chat. If you wish to cancel your account, please send a request by Fax to 404-795-1034, including your account number,email address, your contact information and the reason of the cancellation.
- LMO@earthlink.net: OK, I will do that
- Jane D: Thank you.
- Jane D: Is there anything else I can assist you with?
- LMO@earthlink.net: No, thank you
- Jane D: Thank you for using EarthLink Live Chat. Should you need further assistance, please contact us again.
- Jane D: You have a wonderful day ahead!
What's your opinion? Did Jane D's chat "do the needful" or should EarthLink staff chat with customer service agents whose writing is clear, correct, concise, and in touch with American English? I'm eager to hear your thoughts, so post a comment here.
October 26, 2011
Need to get up to speed on plain language? Interested in improving your own writing skills and learning how to improve the documents you edit for others? Enroll in this practical, hands-on, half-day workshop and gain strategies for writing in plain language. Learn how to use clear, accurate wording that will help your reader do what you ask and understand what you mean.
You'll learn six strategies for clearing the clutter from your writing:
- How to tailor your writing to your readers' needs
- How to use a two-tier process for editing for conciseness
- How to make your writing scannable
- How, and when, to display information in vertical lists or tables
- How to cut word count by 10 percent, 25 percent, or even 50 percent
- How, and why, to write in active voice
You'll learn about complying with the recent plain language law:
- What is the Plain Writing Act of 2010?
- How will this legislation affect government agencies?
- How should corporations and non-profits respond to this law?
You should attend this workshop if you:
- Value clarity in written communication
- Need to improve your writing skills
- Want to be able to explain to colleagues why their writing needs to be edited
- Want to learn how recent plain language laws will affect writing in the government and beyond
You will receive:
- A notebook containing course exercises and resources
- Before-and-after examples that show the power of a plain language rewrite
- A plain language resource list
Questions about the November 1 Plain Language Writing Workshop? Call 301-989-9583 or send an e-mail to Leslie@ewriteonline.com
October 10, 2011
When this e-mail landed in my inbox, I just had to say "wow." It's not easy to send an e-mail to nearly everyone at work explaining that you're leaving because you've gotten a better job in a much warmer and hipper place. Jane Doe's "I've quit" e-mail sets just the right tone, offers just the right amount of information, and shows just the right regard for her replacement.
Read Jane's e-mail plus my comments on her deft use of language.
Subject: Moving on [Not "resigning," just "moving on."]
I have some news to share with you all. . . I am moving to Miami! [Gets to the point right away; keeps sentences short. Instead of saying "I got a better job," she says "I am moving to Miami."]
I just recently accepted an offer as the Director of Sales for ABC Corp. It is an amazing opportunity and ABC is an incredible company. I am very excited to embark on this new journey. ["Amazing," "incredible," and "excited." We'd be grumps not to be happy for her in return.]
It has been truly a pleasure getting working with all of you. While I am excited to leave Albany before the cold weather sets in, I will also miss working with all of you. My last day at StemCorp will be this Friday, October 14th. [She keeps things light by citing a reason to leave Albany that everyone can agree upon: it's cold!]
In the interim, my colleague Gisela Gordon will be your new contact. Gisela is incredibly talented and will no doubt transition seamlessly. Here's Gisela’s contact information: Gisela Gordon, 888-123-4567, Gisela.Gordon@StemCorp.com [Her confident language about Gisela's smooth takeover makes readers feel confident too.]
I wish you all the best of luck! If you would like to keep in touch, please connect with me via LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/janedoe [She ends on a positive note by offering her former colleagues an easy, business-appropriate way to stay in touch.]
I think Jane Doe tread lightly, kept it upbeat, and sent a broadcast e-mail that's better than most. She made a difficult-to-write e-mail look easy. What do you think? Would you have changed Jane Doe's e-mail in any way?
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