Writing emails and business letters is now common in every company or institution. It seems that since e-mail is an unofficial form of communication, there is no need to pay much attention to the form of the e-mail. Meanwhile, there are a number of rules for writing business correspondence, which allow you to strengthen the efficiency of business e-mails and build a positive image of the company.
Chapter 1 explains the meaning of business correspondence by providing several dictionary definitions. What is more it is focused on the importance of Business Correspondence and the role of it in the development of business relations.
1.1 Definition of Business Correspondence
The term Business Correspondence is a blend of two words, therefore to explain its meaning seperate definitions of both of them have to be provided.
However business is a well-known word used in every day speech, the definition of the term is not obvious. Etymologically, the word business derives from "busy". In the social dimension, being a "busy" person may mean involvement in the organization of the process of producing goods or services for commercial purposes.
Lewis Henry Honey (2009:21) claims, that business is "Human activity directed towards producing or acquiring wealth through buying and selling of goods."
According to Stephenson (2008:6), business is "The regular production or purchase and sale of goods undertaken with an objective of earning profit and acquiring wealth through the satisfaction of human wants."
Dicksee (1980:120) says that, "Business refers to a form of activity conducted with an objective of earning profits for the benefit of those on whose behalf the activity is conducted."
To sum up definitions above it can be said that business is an activity dedicated to earn money and make a profit by marketing of products or services.
On the other hand, Correspondence is a term much more easier to define. According to www.businessdictionary.com, it is
"Any written or digital communication exchanged by two or more parties. Correspondences may come in the form of letters, emails, text messages, voicemails, notes, or postcards. Correspondences are important for most businesses because they serve as a paper trail of events from point A to point B."
From the above discussion we can say that the term business correspondence can refer to any written communication whose contents have professional nature. According to G. H. Hansen (1989:733), “The letters which are exchanged among business in connection with business affairs are called business letters.” So all correspondence which has commercial or business interest can be named business correspondence. And additionally, M. Omar Ali (2001:29) says, “Any letter designed and directed to the exchange of information connected with trade and trade related activities is known as a business letter.”
In summarizon, Business correspondence is a name for formal written letters where business related issues and/or information is exchanged. The other words used to describe this term are business letter or commercial letter.
1.2 Types of business corespondence
There are different types of business correspondence used in contemporary business. In the age of the Internet, the most common means of communication are electronic, for instance e-mails, texts or memos. Ashley(2003) claims, "business correspondence in whatever form is the most important feature of business and business communication itself." Ashley proposes four main types of business corespondence:
1.2.1 The Business Letter
The Business Letter is a very effective ways of business communication. Well-written business letters are supposed to contain the “Five C's. According to Carey (2002:127) a letter should be clear, complete, concise, courteous and correct (grammatically). This type of communication can be used either inside or outside the company. According to Carey, when writing a business letter the writer has to consider who the recipient of this letter is, what the reader already knows about the company, or what he needs to know.
1.2.2 Business E-mail
Ashley defines email as "a mean of communication between computers". She provides many advantages of electronic letters exchange. One of them is easy and fast worldwide communication. E-mails can be send and received in any place of the world with the Internet access. We can use computers, tablets or even mobiles to do so. But on the other hand Ashley point out some weakpoints. According to Ashley the connection problem that goes with modern technology is one of the biggest disadventages. Another disadvantage that Ashley sees is the lack of privacy and problems with security. Ashley (Ashley, 2003:20) claims, “It is sometimes said that an e-mail message is like a postcard - anyone can read what you have written.”
1.2.3 Business Fax
Nowadays, faxes have been almost completely replaced by emails. Despite this Ashley notices that business faxes are useful when the person to whom a message is sent, is not an e-mail user. According to Ashley (ibidiem. 16) “It is especially useful for documents containing diagrams or drawings. Like e-mail, a fax can be sent quickly, and to many different recipients, all at the same time. However, again like e-mail, the fax is an open system, i.e. correspondence can easily be accessed by outsiders, so it should not be used for confidential information.”
1.2.4 Business Memorandum
According to Collins Dictionary memorandum "is a written report that is prepared for a person or committee in order to provide them with information about a particular matter." Even though the usage of memos is reasonable, Ashley considers this type of communication as not as safe as personal communication and she prefers face-to-face cotact in business.
1.3 Effective Business Correspondence
Effective Business Correspondence improves the connections between a company and all of its employees, customers, shareholders, suppliers, neighbours and the community. According to Bovee and Thill (2008:5) to make your correspondence as good as possible, "focus on making it practical, factual, concise, clear, and persuasive:
• Provide practical information. Give recipients useful information, whether it's to help them perform a desired action or understand a new company policy.
• Give facts rather than vague impressions. Use concrete language, specific detail, and information that is clear, convincing, accurate, and ethical. Even when an opinion is called for, present compelling evidence to support your conclusion.
• Present information in a concise, efficient manner. Concise messages show respect for people's time, and they increase the chances of a positive response.
• Clarify expectations and responsibilities. Craft messages to generate a specific response from a specific audience. When appropriate, clearly state what you expect from audience members or what you can do for them.
• Offer compelling, persuasive arguments and recommendations. Show your readers precisely how they will benefit from responding to your message the way you want them to." (ibidiem.5)
What is more, Bovee and Thill provide an exemplary e-mail which is presented below:
According to Bovee and Thill (2008:7), the subject of the e-mail should be short and informative. At the same time, the topic must be specific enough for the sender to know what to expect. Sentences used in a business e-mail should be rather short - one line should contain about 60-80 characters, and individual paragraphs should be separated by blank lines. It is difficult to determine how long a business e-mail should be, because everything depends on the content you want to convey in it. As a rule, the e-mail should be sufficiently concise to explain the whole matter to the recipient, but not longer than it is necessary.
1.4 The importance of Businesss Correspondence
Business correspondence is an important and inseparable part of office work. Each office worker, regardless of his position, edits a number of letters or e-mails during the work. The first impression of the recipient after receiving the letter has a great importance in the correspondence. The recipient pays attention to the way the envelope is addressed, the layout of the text, the spelling. Each letter represents the sender outside, is his showcase. Correspondence has a very big impact on the company's image. The proper form of the letter can set the recipient positively or negatively to its sender. The wrong form of the letter provides information about the lack of professionalism of employees and company management. The correct form of the letter encourages cooperation with its sender.
Besides from the personal benefits, correspondence should be important to every employee because it's important to a company. Effective Business Correspondence helps businesses in numerous ways. It provides
• "Closer ties with important communities in the marketplace.
• Opportunities to influence conversations, perceptions, and trends.
• Faster problem solving and stronger decision making based on timely, reliable
• Increased productivity and steadier work flow.
• Greater employee engagement with their work, leading to higher job satisfaction and lower employee turnover." (Bovee and Thill, 2008:11)
Correspondence is essential to every function in business, and poor communication skills will limit the compnay's opportunitties and can have a negative influence on its image.
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