When you have a business, you will probably need to write to your customers. The purpose of this letter may be to inform your customers of new events or special offers, or it may be a response to a complaint made to your company. However, whatever the subject of your letter, you need to keep it professional.
Part 1 of 2: Format the Business Letter
Step 1. Use a professional header
The business letter will represent your business and for this it must be clear and of high quality. It should also bear your company logo or brand.
You can create a letterhead using the predefined, full-color letterhead templates in Microsoft Word. Make sure to use your current logo or brand in the header
Step 2. Open word processing software
A business letter must always be entered on a computer.
- Create a new document and give it a margin of one centimeter.
- Use a serif font like Times New Roman, Georgia, or Arial. Make sure the font size is no more than 12, and no smaller than 10. The choice of font size or the font itself should not affect the clarity and readability of your letter..
- Make sure the document is single-spaced.
Step 3. Organize the content in bulk
The block style is most used for business letters. It's also the easiest to create and follow. Each header item should be left aligned and separated from each other by a space. From start to finish, your business letter should contain a number of elements.
- Today's date or the day you send the letter. The date is important because it can be useful in your archives or those of your recipients. It can also be used for legal purposes. So make sure it's correct.
- The address of the sender. This is your address, written in the standard address style. However, if your address is already in the header, you can leave this element.
- The recipient's address. This is the name and address of the person to whom you are addressing the letter. The use of Mr. or Mrs. is optional. So, if you write to Nina Brown, for example, you can leave Madam or Mademoiselle before her name if you are not sure of her marital status.
- The appeal formula. It can be Dear Miss Brown or Dear Nina Brown. If you do not know exactly who will read the letter, your best bet is to use Dear Sir or Madam. You can also use To Whom It Needs, but this should only happen as a last resort, if you are totally unaware of your hearing.
- The body of the letter. We will put more emphasis on this part in the next section of our article.
- The polite phrase and the signature. It can be Sincerely or Please accept, Sir or Madam, the expression of my distinguished feelings.
Part 2 of 2: Write the business letter
Step 1. Identify your audience
Your letter should always keep a professional tone, regardless of the audience. However, you will be sure to adjust your language or your choice of words to the person you are talking to. If you're writing to human resources or another company, it might be a good idea to adopt a sustained ledger. However, if you are addressing a particular client, you can adopt a more familiar or run register.
- Identifying your audience means avoiding confusing them. Avoid using terms that your reader is unlikely to understand. For example, a client might not know the acronyms used for the space program in your company, so avoid using them in the letter.
- The first rule of writing a good business letter is clarity, conciseness and courtesy.
Step 2. State the purpose of the letter on the first line
Remember the purpose of the letter. Is it about letting your customers know you've moved to another side of town? Is it reminding a customer of an unpaid invoice or a balance due? Or a response to a customer complaint? With that goal in mind, draft a first sentence that immediately educates the reader on the content of the letter. State the purpose of your letter clearly and avoid rambling on.
- Start with I if you are giving your own opinion as a business owner. Use us if you are writing on behalf of the business or organization.
- Use a direct phrase like: We have the honor to inform you or We have the honor to solicit. You can also use I as the head of the company by saying I am contacting you because of or Recently it has come to my attention … and I would like more information about …
- For example, you (the business manager) write to Nina Brown about an unpaid invoice from last month. Start the letter with I'm contacting you about the amount owed on your account since March 2015.
- Alternatively, if you are an employee of the company and you are responding to a customer complaint against the company space program, for example, start with We have received your complaint about our space program on Mars.
- You can also write to let the reader know they've won a competition or landed in a graduate program. Start with: I am pleased to inform you that … or We are delighted to inform you that …
- If you break bad news, start with a phrase like We regret to inform you that … or After careful consideration, I have decided not to …
Step 3. Use the active voice rather than the passive voice
Although the passive voice is used all the time in our regular speeches, it can make your writing boring and confusing. The active voice is much more effective in a business letter because it sets a more assertive tone.
- Here is an example of the passive voice: What specific complaints should I resolve for you? The subject of the sentence, the customer (you), appears at the end of the sentence rather than at the beginning.
- Here is an example of the active voice: What can I do to resolve your complaint? This version of the sentence in the active voice appears clearer and easier to understand to the reader.
- Using the passive voice can be a good way to get your point across without drawing attention to a mistake or unflattering point, but use it only then. In general, the active voice is much more effective in business letters.
Step 4. Discuss a previous event or communication
Perhaps you reached out to Nina Brown early last month to warn her of her unpaid bill, or a customer expressed frustration with the space program at last month's conference. If you've been in contact with the reader before, let them know. This will remind her of your last contact and make the letter more immediate and important.
Use a phrase like As I mentioned in my last letter regarding your unpaid bill… or Thank you for your March payment or The issues you raised in relation to the space program at the May conference were 'a great utility
Step 5. Make a request or offer help
Use a positive tone with the reader by politely asking or offering help in the form of a working relationship.
- Tell yourself that you are a business owner trying to get a customer to pay a bill. Use a phrase like: I would very much like you to pay immediate attention to the issue of your unpaid bill.
- Tell yourself that you are writing on behalf of your business. Use an expression like: We would like to meet you one-on-one with the Director of Human Resources.
- You should also offer to answer any questions or concerns the reader might have. Use a phrase like I would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have about your bill or Would you like more information about the program?
Step 6. Conclude your letter
Include a call to action from you or the reader. This could be a request for payment by a certain date or a note about arranging a formal meeting with the reader.
- Include a sentence regarding a possibility of contact with the receiver of the letter in the future. I look forward to seeing you at the budget meeting next week or I look forward to having a more in-depth discussion with you on the matter at your next visit to our branch.
- Mention if you have attached any documents to your letter. Add a phrase like Please find attached your unpaid invoice or Attached is a copy of our space program for the general public.
- End your letter with a closing formula such as Please accept, Sir or Madam, the expression of my best feelings or Please believe, Sir or Madam, in the assurance of my highest consideration for clients.
- Please use Please accept, Sir or Madam, the expression of my distinguished feelings in formal letters to people you do not know at all.
- Use only Sincerely, only for people you know well or have a working relationship with.
Step 7. Read the letter again
All the care you put into the format and writing will be wasted if your letter is full of spelling mistakes!
- Find all the uses of the passive voice then replace them with the active voice.
- Note any sentences that are too long or not clear and direct. In a business letter, quantity is often not the order of the day. So reduce the length of your sentences as much as possible.