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Mini-Quiz: Write for Global Customers

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The web and e-mail now enable customers to reach you from any part of the globe. It is estimated that 510 million non-native English speakers–global customers– will be online by 2003. And even your nearby customers may not be native English speakers. Idioms, such as spread ourselves too thin or think outside the box, may be unclear to global customers who are confused by the expression’s literal meaning.

Here is a customer service agent’s e-mail response to a complaint about a Tranco coffee maker. Idioms and phrases that might be difficult for a non-native English speaker are in bold. Edit this e-mail by substituting literal expressions in the space above the phrase. (For example, try to do too much would be a good substitute for the idiom spread ourselves too thin.) Then check your answers [answers are beneath the quiz -- don't cheat!]

    To: Naveed@worldmail.com
    From: Rita@Tranco.com
    Subject: Re: Tranco coffee maker problem

    Thanks for contacting us about your problem with your Tranco coffee maker. Printed matter explaining how to use the coffee maker should have been included. I’m attaching the instructions to this e-mail.

    Using the coffee maker is a snap. The instructions spell out the procedure for brewing coffee. If you follow the instructions for brewing coffee to the letter, the coffee maker will be up and running before you know it.

    It goes without saying that we are very sorry that you were inconvenienced. As a rule, instructions are put inside every box.

    Sincerely,

    Rita
    Tranco Coffee

ANSWERS to Mini-Quiz: Write for Global Customers

We’ve supplied substitutes for idiomatic expressions that might confuse global customers. The substitutes are written in parenthesis next to the words they replace.

Any wrong answers? Chapter 7 – Write for Global Customers in Clear, Correct, Concise E-Mail: A Writing Workbook for Customer Service Agents provides guidance on writing e-mail to global customers.

    To: Naveed@worldmail.com
    From: Rita@Tranco.com
    Subject: Re: Tranco coffee maker problem

    Thanks for contacting us about your problem with your Tranco coffee maker. Printed matter explaining (Instructions for) how to use the coffee maker should have been included. I’m attaching the instructions to this e-mail.

    Using the coffee maker is a snap (easy). The instructions spell out (explain in detail) the procedure for brewing coffee. If you follow the instructions for brewing coffee to the letter (exactly), the coffee maker will be up and running (functioning) before you know it (very quickly).

    It goes without saying (It is understood) that we are very sorry that you were inconvenienced. As a rule (normally), instructions are put inside every box.

    Sincerely,

    Rita
    Tranco Coffee

Marilynne Rudick and Leslie O’Flahavan are partners in E-WRITE — http://www.ewriteonline.com, a training and consulting company in the Washington, D.C. area that specializes in online writing. Rudick and O’Flahavan are authors of the book Clear, Correct, Concise E-Mail: A Writing Workbook for Customer Service Agents.

Marilynne Rudick and Leslie O’Flahavan Answer Online Writing Questions: Click Here For Free Answers

Mini-Quiz: Write for Global Customers
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