Watch Your Mouth … And Your Pen
I received an invoice via email today for some work I had done at my home by an irrigation company. Overall, the company has been terrific. They communicate well. They arrive on time. They give great advice. And they are fun to work with.
The fun ended when the bill came.
The invoice read, "Your invoice #10460D for $174 has been attached. If payment is not received within 30days (sic) of this notice, a five dollar minimum charge will be applied to your balance” and later, “As a reminder … you can now pay on our website ay (sic) www…..”
A couple of issues here, starting with the fact that there are two glaring typos (“30days” instead of “30 days” and “ay” instead of “at”). If you are not familiar with (sic), it is an editing term which means, "yeah, yeah, we know this is wrong but this is the way it actually reads. Don't blame the typo on the storyteller, yo." I don't think I have to tell you what typos say about the company.
The other issue I have is how quickly in the email they get to the "pay us on time" demand. That message certainly belongs on the invoice, but there has to be a better way to communicate that point, starting with the fact that it belongs down at the bottom of the email as a PostScript rather than in the second sentence.
My point in telling you all this is not to relay that I am anal when it comes to business communication. I readily and unapologetically admit to that. My point is to remind you to be careful how you come across in writing. Given the fact that it’s been such a good experience so far, I am confident this is an unintentional oversight.* But because every client is precious, and replacing a lost customer is not only difficult but unnecessary in avoidable situations like this.
Be careful what you say. You cannot take back verbal comments, but can make certain to reread your written words before they go out the door. They last forever.
* I emailed back to the company to express my concerns, and they were very grateful for the feedback. That puts us back in the "fun" category … and maintains my anal standing.
Bill Farquharson can be reached through his website, BillFarquharson.com, where you find additional free sales content and information on his training programs and books.