Pay attention when writing letters to customers

Since then, Sony has made some subtle mistakes when communicating with its customers. The most recent appears in a letter from Sir Howard Stringer, the company’s CEO, apologising and explaining what steps it is taking. He says:

“In the last few months, Sony has faced a terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan. But now we are facing a very man-made event – a criminal attack on us — and on you — and we are working with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies around the world to apprehend those responsible.” [My emphasis.]

I don’t understand why the tsunami is mentioned in a letter about hackers and the theft of personal data. It feels out of place. Could customers see it as a diversionary tactic?

A less obvious issue concerns Stringer addressing the time it took to tell people about their data being taken.

“I wish we could have gotten the answers  we needed sooner, but forensic analysis is a complex, time-consuming process.” [My emphasis.]

Gotten is an American colloquialism  – and I checked with some Americans  –   which would stick out in a formal letter such as this. Imagine a bank manager signing off a letter refusing an overdraft with ‘Cheers’.

As small businesses we have the advantage over bigger companies who may be far removed from their customers. And we must pay close attention to how we communicate with them.

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