The Award for Worst Tone in a Business E-mail Goes to. . .

As a collector of poorly written e-mails, I thought I’d seen everything: egregious spelling and grammar errors, poor organization, bloated language, and unprofessional tone. So I have to admit that I was shocked by the e-mail my friend “Chris” sent me quoting e-mails that an accountant in her financial services firm sent to a client. […]


Lessons From the Insurance Industry: You Don’t Need a Gecko to Set the Right Tone

We recently evaluated the correspondence of a major insurance company and its competitors. Using a benchmarking tool we developed, we rated their e-mails and letters to customers on seven Standards. One Standard that we carefully looked at was tone:  “Correspondence is written in a personal, professional tone.” While the topic of the correspondence frequently involved […]


Apologizing to a customer? Write it like you mean it

A colleague shared this e-mail she received from the company that hosts her website, which I’ll call ABC Web Host. While the intent of this e-mail is to apologize for an outage, it doesn’t sound genuine, and the order of information is all wrong. Subject: Further explanation regarding May 20 outage Dear ABC Web Host […]


The Best Ever Customer Service E-Mail

As I was writing a recent post on hyphens, I noticed that the font on the TypePad edit screen kept getting smaller. Soon my nose was inches from the monitor as I tried to make out almost infinitesimal type. Since the small type was only on this one edit screen—all other web pages and documents […]


Word Slippage: Just Plain Folks NOT!

I’m a big proponent of plain language. Don’t say we acknowledge receipt of when we received will do. Use taxes instead of  revenue enhancements. But there’s a difference between using a simpler, plainer word in place of an inflated word or phrase and using a simple, plain word incorrectly. What’s got my dander up is […]