Writing a business letter is not merely a matter of expressing your ideas clearly. The way you write a letter and the etiquette you employ may have a significant impact on your success or failure in business. Failure to follow proper business letter etiquette may cause offense or misunderstandings, lack of clarity and hostility.
Always make sure you have spelt the recipient’s name correctly which should include title, honor or qualification if necessary. Many people use the ‘Dear Sir/Yours Faithfully’ formula when addressing the receiver. Although this is acceptable for routine matters, it is impersonal and should be avoided when dealing with queries or complaints.
If the content of the letter is sensitive, personal or confidential, it must be marked appropriately. Marking the sign of confidential on the envelope is advisable. If you only want the letter to be read by the receiver without the interception of a secretary, mark it with ‘private, personal or strictly confidential. If you have received such a business letter, you might as well reciprocate and ensure that all correspondence in future is kept at that level of confidentiality.
Proper business letter should be formal in style. Despite the receiver is familiar with you, it is advisable to maintain a certain level of business etiquette as the letter may be seen by others or referred to by a third party in the future. However, this does not mean you should use long or uncommon words to express yourself in the letter, which will make the letter unreadable.
Good business letter etiquette calls for letters to be responded promptly or within certain deadlines. This may normally be considered within 5 working days. If this is not accessible, some sorts of acknowledgement should be sent either by letter, fax, phone or e-mail. Always be sure to state the purpose of the letter at the top clearly, for example, ‘Re: Business Letter Etiquette Enquiry’. When some points or questions are referred to in the letter, the proper etiquette is to respond them in the same order as they were asked.