Business writing principles or seven c’s in business communication

Normally it is assumed that correctness only refers to spelling, punctuation and grammar etc. but business Communication is something more than that. Following guideline should be considered for achieving correctness.
(a) Use the correct level of language
(b) Include only accurate facts and figures.
(c) Maintain acceptable writing mechanics.
(a) Use the Correct Level of Language:
There are usually three levels of language that is formal, informal and sub-standard. Informal level of language is the language of business letters, memos and reports. Formal language is used for writing research papers and legal documents etc. Sub-standard level of language is not used in any type of communication because it either refers to the street language or unacceptable language.
Incorrect: We thank you in anticipation of this courtesy and assure you that it will be a pleasure to serve you in similar manners.
Correct: I will appreciate your helping us. Let me know when I can return the favour.
(b) Include Only Accurate Facts and Figures:
The writer of a business message should specifically be careful when he is quoting any fact or figure. The situation is more critical when the reader relies on the accuracy of facts and figures. An incorrect figure may lead even to the loss of customer, because customer might feel that he is not dealing with business like people. For example if a bank manager provides a wrong balance figure to his account holder, the result might be disastrous for the bank.
(c) Maintain Acceptable Writing Mechanics:

Writing mechanics include a number of considerations. For instance, use of grammar rules, sentences structure, composition, punctuation, spelling and all other considerations. Which form the structure of English Language?
With the advent of information revolution, business messages are getting short day by day. This is because of huge inflow and outflow of messages on daily basis. Therefore, conciseness is a prime requirement. Following points should be considered for achieving conciseness.
(a) Omitting trite expressions.
(b) Avoid unnecessary repetition.
(c) Include relevant facts.
(a) Omitting Trite Expressions:
Trite expressions are also called clichés or stereo typed expressions. They are usually longer, formal and relatively meaningless because of over use.
Trite: In accordance with your request of recent date, we are enclosing herewith our cashier’s cheque in the amount of Rs 20,000, representing a withdrawal of said saving A/c. No. 3595.
Improved: According to your request of April 25, cheque of Rs. 20,000 is enclosed.
(b) Avoid Unnecessary Repetition:
Skillful business writers avoid unnecessary repetition by rewording their message and trying to reduce it by almost 50%. In other words first draft of the message is never final and it always requires a second reworded reduced draft before dispatched to the receiver.
Wordy: I have your letter of October 14 and wish to say that we will be glad to give you a refund for shirt you purchased here last week.
Improved: You can avail refund for the shirt you purchased last week.
(c) Include Relevant Facts:
Relevant facts refer to those necessary facts which should be present and should never be compromised for achieving conciseness.
Clarity refers to a clear understanding of the message by the receiver. In other words the receiver should not face any problem in getting the meaning of the message. The clarity could be achieved by the following techniques.
(a) Choose words that are short, familiar and conversational.
(b) Construct effective sentences and paragraphs.
(c) Achieve appropriate readability.
(d) Include examples, illustrations etc.
(a) Choose Words that are Short, Familiar and Conversational:
The vocabulary of English language is so rich that a number of words are possible for a single occasion. In today’s business English, analysts suggest that it’s better to use such words in business writing, which are normally used in day to day conversation. Therefore, it is always better to avoid difficult and high sounding words.
The bank statement shows an Overdraft of Rs. 10,000.
The bank statement shows an excess withdrawal of Rs. 10,000.
(b) Construct Effective Sentences and Paragraphs:

The number of paragraphs for a business message should not exceed more than 3-4 paragraphs. Within one paragraph, number of sentences should not exceed more than 3-4 sentences and within one sentence, number of words should not exceed more than 12-15 words.
(c) Achieve appropriate Readability:
For achieving readability ‘FOGINDEX’ is calculated. The calculation is given below.

If the answer of Fog Index ranges between 10 and15, this means the message is readable by a person having average educational background the answer exceeds the mark of 15, this means to understand the message, some higher educational qualification is required.
(d) Include Examples, Illustrations etc.:
Examples and illustrations work as supplementary tools for the writer. Examples help the reader to understand meaning of the message.
It is not necessary that all seven C’s could be applied to all types of business messages. The ‘C’ of completeness should be kept in mind especially giving replies to inquiries and writing adjustment letter. Following points are considered for the ‘C’ of completeness.
(a) Answer all questions asked.
(b) Give something extra. When desirable.
(c) Check for five W’s.
(a) Answer all Questions Asked:
If in the product related inquiry the prospective customer has asked four questions, it is much necessary to answer all the four questions. Even if a single question is missed and not answered, the inquirer is having all the reasons to believe that the person giving reply is a careless person or he is not interested in answering the questions or there is something wrong which he is willing to hide.
(b) Give Something Extra When Desirable:
Normally a good marketing technique applied by managers is to offer something extra apart from original questions asked. This something extra may be the point of sale for the producer because customer would like to buy from such a manufacturer who is offering something extra, which others are not offering.
(c) Check for 5 W’s:
Five W’s to Who, What, When, Where and Why. For example to order merchandise, we should make clear What we want, When we need it, Where it is to be sent, How the payment will be needed.
Concreteness adds conviction to the message. It is easy for the reader to believe on concrete messages. Concreteness also increases credibility of the sender of message. Following points should be considered for achieving concreteness.
(a) Use specific facts and figures.

(b) Put action in the verb.
(c) Choose vivid image building words.
(a) Use Specific Facts and Figures:
Use of fact and figures play a vital role especially when describing a product or service.
General: These brakes stop car within short distance.
Specific: The hydraulic pressure brakes stop a car with a distance of two feet as soon as they are applied.
(b) Put Action in the Verb:
The basic function of the verb is to describe action of a noun or pronoun. Therefore, care should be taken that the action should always be represented by verb and an action is found in a noun, it should be converted into verb.
Noun: They held meeting in the office.
Verb: They met in the office.
(c) Choose Vivid Image Building Words:
Vivid image building words are generally used for creating an impression upon the reader, so that the reader should start building an image of the product or service in his mind. Such words are used in sales and sales promotion letters.
Example: This is a very good computer.
The P-IV 800 MHz, 20GB HD, 64MB RAM, 500 MB CACHE, Intel genuine processor, in ATX casing is a computer of new millennium.
Consideration refers to giving importance to the other person whether he is a reader audience, spectator or listener. For achieving consideration following points are considered.
(a) You attitude
(b) Show readers interest
(c) Apply integrity in the message
(d) Emphasize the positive

(a) You Attitude:
You attitude means writing a business message from the point of view of the customer or at least showing that the customer is very important.
I – Attitude: We allow 5% discount on Cash Payment.
You – Attitude: You can enjoy 5% discount on Cash Payment.
(b) Show Readers Interest:
People are basically selfish in their nature. They are only interested in themselves and they always look for some material benefit. Therefore business messages should always be drafted in such a manner to offer something to the customer, which is of interest for him. Mind it customers are not interested in the producer or service provider. Their focus of concentration is their own self. A customer will be a loyal customer, if he is obtaining some benefit on a regular basis.

(c) Apply Integrity in the Message:
Integrity refers to character in the business message. This would come by being honest and truthful with the customer. Never make such a promise, which can be fulfilled never give false hopes to the customer and also never bluff the customer.
(d) Emphasize the Positive:
Most of the statements even in business messages could be written from angles. One is the positive angle and the other is the negative one. It is always better to highlight positively rather than negatively.
Negative: We do not refund if the refund item is soiled and unsalable.
Positive: We do refund if the returned item is clean and saleable.
Surviving in today’s business world requires courtesy on the part of producer or seller. A discourteous producer or service provider cannot succeed in the buyer’s market. That is why famous slogan of ‘Customer is always right’ invented. To achieve courtesy following points should be considered.
(a) Be tactful.
(b) Omit expressions that can irritate.
(c) Answer/mail promptly.
(d) Grant and apologize.
(a) Be Tactful:
Tact means handling customer with a right technique. Otherwise, if customers are not handled properly, business may suffer.
Tactless: Your letter is not complete I cannot understand it.
Tactful: If I understand your letter correctly, you want to say that…….
(b) Omit Expressions that Can Irritate:
Irritating expressions are disliked by all and customers are not any exception.
(i) You have failed
(ii) You have no choice
(iii) You neglect
(iv) You claim that
(c) Answer / Mail Promptly:
It is a matter of business courtesy that all mails should be answered promptly. A late reply may give an impression that the manufacturer is not interested in the customer.
(d) Grand and Apologize:
It is always advisable to give some favor to the customer if he asked for it, and if some mistake is committed, it is better to apologize.

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