Watch Your Mouth…and Your Pen
I received an invoice via email today. It was for some work I had done at my home by an irrigation company. Overall, they have 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 few glaring typos, including but not limited to “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…” 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 demand, “Pay us on time!” 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 doesn’t belong in the second sentence of the email but rather down at the bottom as a postscript.
My point in telling you all this is not so that you can conclude that I am persnickety when it comes to business communication. I readily but not apologetically admit it. My point is to remind you to be careful about how you come across in writing. Every client is precious. Replacing a lost customer is not only difficult but also unnecessary and avoidable.
The lesson? Always be careful with not only what you say, as you cannot easily retract verbal comments, but be equally as careful to reread your written words before they go out the door. They last forever.
As for my relationship with the irrigation company, given the fact that it’s been such a good experience with them thus far, I am confident the grammatical errors were an unintentional oversight. I emailed them to express my concerns and they were very grateful for the feedback. That puts us back in the “fun” category…and maintains my hair-splitting, fastidious standing on business writing.