Headlines: November 18th, 2011

Councils have emerged as better at writing letters to citizens than many organisations are at writing to their customers.

Research findings published by The Writer, a business language consultancy, show there was some dissatisfaction with letters from councils, but they were much more effective than those from private sector organisations. Over half of all those who took part in the survey said that they find letters they get from organisation to be ‘not at all’ or ‘barely’ effective. Just 11 per cent said they’re ‘very’ or ‘impressively’ effective.

The worst offenders writing letters that were either unclear or carried annoying phrases, were banks with a dissatisfaction rating of 32 per cent. Telecommunications with 18 per cent and utilities with 17 per cent, were close behind. At the bottom of the dissatisfaction table with 6 per cent ratings were insurance and local government.

Recipients were asked to vote for the phrases they felt were most annoying. ‘Your comments are very important to us’ was the most hated phrase with a vote of 69 percent. This was followed by ‘We apologise for any inconvenience caused’ which received a vote of 61 per cent.

The research reveals the importance of corporate communication, which can damage the organisation’s reputation and the danger of using empty and impersonal words that leave people cold.