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Step 6: Be professional

By ExpertOperations |

What you say is important. How you say it is just as important. When answers are full of misspellings, written in all caps or sprinkled with slang, a customer might wonder if the person they’re speaking to is really at the top of their profession.

Although it sometimes feels like a chat more than a formal correspondence, you should approach your responses with all the same professionalism you would a business email. Here’s how:

Use correct spelling and grammar

Our interface has a spell check option, but that won’t catch every spelling issue, and it certainly won’t check your grammar. Make sure to re-read your answers before you send them. Here are some quick reminders:

  • Use correct capitalization: Avoid writing in all caps. It makes customers feel like you’re shouting at them. Likewise, writing in all lowercase letters makes the interaction feel too casual. You don’t need to have perfect capitalization, but if you follow the most basic rules —capitalize first words in a sentence, proper nouns and the first person pronoun “I” — you should be in good shape.
  • Avoid abbreviations: While abbreviations have become commonplace in texts and instant messages, it’s best to avoid them when interacting with a customer on our site. “Thx” instead of “thanks” and “u” instead of “you” isn’t just unprofessional, it also gives the customer the impression that you don’t have time for them.
  •  Be careful with punctuation: Avoid run-on sentences by using commas where appropriate. If you’re not sure where to put a comma (and we get it – even professional writers disagree about comma usage!), read the sentence out loud. If you come to a spot where you naturally pause, insert a comma. Also, don’t overuse ellipses (…) or exclamation points. One or two of each in an answer is probably enough.

Use careful language

Remember, you know very little about your customers. Choose your words carefully to avoid any misunderstanding.

  • Don’t use slang: We know you’re not running around using street slang in your conversations with customers. But even words that you’d say out loud in a professional setting can look sloppy in text. Instead of “gonna,” use “going to.” Instead of “wanna,” use “want to.”
  •  Avoid jargon: Acronyms and terms that are commonplace in your world might be completely foreign to your customers. If you need to use them, provide a definition. Don’t just tell your customer they need a CBC. Tell them they need a CBC, or complete blood count, which will provide important information about the kinds and numbers of cells in the blood.
  • Use polite language: “Please,” “thank you” and “I’m sorry” go a long way toward making a favorable impression on customers.

 Use clear, simple formatting

Format your responses like you would a business email or article. Start a new paragraph when you’re about to share a new idea. If you’re listing items, use bullet points. If you want to emphasize a word or idea, underline it. Small formatting tweaks can greatly improve the clarity of your answers. But don’t go overboard: Wacky colors and fonts, as well as excessive underlining or italicizing, can distract from the message. 

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