CHAPTER 8--WRITING DIRECT REQUESTS
- Requests are most effective when they follow the customs of the audience.
ORGANIZING DIRECT REQUESTS
- Use the plan for direct requests when the audience is interested and cooperative.
- Be tactful.
- Follow the direct plan: (1) main idea, (2) details, (3) request for action.
- Open with a direct statement of the request or main idea:
- Be specific when stating the scope of the request.
- Explain the overall reason for writing (use a question but without a question mark).
- Save detailed questions for later paragraphs.
- Provide justification, explanation, and details in the middle of the message:
- Explain the reason for the request
- Emphasize the benefits of complying with the request
- For complex requests, use a series of specific questions in descending order of importance:
- When requesting several items or answers, use an itemized list.
- Limit questions to those dealing with the main idea.
- Don't use questions for which you can find answers yourself.
- Match the form of the question to the type of information required (yes-or-no questions for specific information; check-off forms when asking the same question of many people; open-ended questions for more general requests).
- Avoid leading questions.
- Limit each question to one topic.
- Close with a request for specific action:
- Express goodwill.
- Mention time limits.
- Include phone number, office hours, or other information.
- Save thank-you note for later, after the transaction has been completed.
- Get right to the point; the audience will be interested and cooperative.
- Use a mail-order form as a model.
- Include necessary details:
- Date; an offer to make a purchase; description of goods (catalog number, quantity, color, size, price, amount due); delivery and billing address(es); shipping arrangements; payment details.
- Give a detailed description for unusual or nonstandard orders:
- Explain how the item will be used.
- Include drawings.
- Keep a copy of the order on file.
REQUESTING ROUTINE INFORMATION AND ACTION
- Any request is an important tool for building a favorable image of the company.
- In requests to company insiders,
- Use memo format.
- Follow direct plan: (1) state purpose, (2) explain and justify request, (3) close with reminder of request and instructions for complying.
- Use matter-of-fact style.
- A typical purpose of a request to another business: to obtain information about products.
- When requesting information from other businesses in response to advertisements,
- Fill out and return the response card, if available.
- If not, write a sentence or two requesting information and mentioning where you saw the advertisement.
- Enclose a handling fee, if required.
- for other product inquiries, provide more explanation:
- Describe the request.
- Indicate any reader benefit for replying with the request (generally, possibility of doing business).
- Make compliance easy.
- Typical purposes of requests to customers and other outsiders: to ask for information, request simple actions, reestablish a relationship.
- Requests to customers and other outsiders can often be handled with a short, simple letter.
- When a longer, more detailed approach is necessary:
- Explain the request.
- Break the procedure for complying into steps.
- Justify request, emphasizing benefits to the reader.
- Make compliance easy; include a stamped, preaddressed reply envelope if customer is an individual.
REQUESTING CLAIMS AND ADJUSTMENTS
- Most companies are happy to honor reasonable claims, because doing so quickly and cheerfully often saves the most dishonest customer.
- Use the direct plan.
- Employ a positive, unemotional tone.
- Document a claim with photocopies of invoices, receipts, canceled checks, and the like.
- Be specific about what you want the company to do, or explain the problem and ask the company to suggest a remedy.
MAKING ROUTINE CREDIT REQUESTS
- Write to ask for a credit application form.
- Credit applications require the name of your company, the length of time in business, the name of your bank, the addresses of businesses where you have existing accounts, a financial statement, and a balance sheet.
- To obtain commercial credit when placing a first-time order for goods, open with a request for credit, explain the order, and offer evidence of credit worthiness.
INQUIRING ABOUT PEOPLE
- Legal liability makes companies reluctant to answer inquiries about people, but some organizations still ask for references when selecting candidates for jobs, memberships, awards, and the like.
- The purpose of letters requesting a recommendation: to get someone to serve as a reference for you.
- In a letter requesting a recommendation,
- Use direct approach.
- Explain the situation.
- Remind the reader who you are.
- Include a copy of your resume or equivalent description of your qualifications.
- Close with a summary of the request and the details on how to comply.
- Include a stamped, preaddressed envelope to encourage a reply.
- In a letter checking on a reference given by a job or credit applicant,
- Use the direct approach.
- Explain the applicant's situation and requirements of the position.
- State why you value the reader's opinion.
- Mention that the request was authorized.
- Do not include a stamped, preaddressed envelope if the request is directed toward a business.
- Promise to keep the recommendation confidential.