Another dot in the blogosphere?

Mind your language

Posted on: May 19, 2016

It is no big secret that the level of service in Singapore leaves much to be desired. It is acceptable in areas like cafes, but sub-standard elsewhere.

I take a poke at one aspect of customer service and find a link to schooling. Consider some overused and unquestioned phrases in email replies.

Please be informed that…
I asked customer service about an establishment’s parking arrangements. Their reply was: “Please be informed that we have 2 options for car parking service as below”.

Leave the phrase out and just state what the information is. This could have shortened and be grammatically corrected to “We have two parking options…”.

Telling someone “to be informed that…” sounds passive-aggressive. You sound like you are pissed off that I asked you something and you are reluctant to answer.

Please be informed that the way you write implies a tone whether you intended it or not. Tone up your writing by being simple and direct.

Revert back
“Revert” is to return to an original state. This is a 180 degree turn or a reversal. “Back” is another 180 degree turn. When combined, the two make a 360 degree pirouette and nothing changes.

Asking one or more people to “revert back to me” is physically impossible. You are you and I am me. I cannot return to an original state that is you and then resume my original development from you to me.

I know that there is a different understanding and acceptance of this phrase. But this is lazy thinking and awkward phrasing.

Just use one of these simple phrases: “Please get back to me by…” or “Please reply by…”. Both are also more specific thanks to a date and/or time.

I say we revert to a time when we communicated simply and clearly instead of trying to sound formal or authoritative. Let us go back to the future.

Gentle reminder
How are reminders gentle? Are you whispering in my ear? If so, that is creepy.

If you did not prefix “reminder” with “gentle”, is the assumption that reminders are rough, jarring, or otherwise unpleasant?

Gentle reminders are sometimes accompanied by a cousin phrase “kindly take note”. Is there a way to take note cruelly? The only person you might use “kindly take note” on is the Hulk because HULK SMASH.

Reminders are not gentle and notes are not kind. Smash this practice hard and mercilessly with “please remember to…”.

Link to schooling
Where do people who write such email learn to use such phrases? Surely not in school because this is writing for and in the workplace. I shudder to think that office administrators attended training where they learnt how to use such choice phrases.

The use of such phrases generally flies under the radar. No one really gets upset, turns into the Hulk, and smashes computers and servers to smithereens.

But small things add up. The little things matter because they combine and become part of a larger problem like poor communication or bad customer service.

Worse still, ignoring these seemingly minor things indicates a mindset among those that teach that standards are allowed to slip.

Standards can change, but they should not slip. If you do not know the difference, then you might have a bigger problem than minding your language.

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