Maintaining the tone in every contact

If your website’s main content has a consistent tone throughout, that’s great; but don’t forget those other points of contact with your readers or customers. This might be rarely needed web pages (such as the 404 error page) or following up on an order.

I recently ordered a couple of t-shirts online from howies, and the company’s warm, informal tone (with a hint of dry wit) continued throughout the process. It really felt as though one person was speaking to me throughout.

For example, from the order confirmation:

A big thanks for your order [...] We will be burning the midnight oil to make sure your order is dealt with to make sure you’re not waiting too long! (By the way your card will not be charged until your stuff leaves our warehouse.) [...] A despatch confirmation e-mail will be sent to you as your order leaves us down here.

And from the despatch email:

Just thought you’d like to know your order is heading out of Cardigan Bay as we speak. And it’s heading your way. …

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Writing for your audience: overseas students

One of my Spanish ‘intercambio’ friends has recently booked a place on a summer course in London to improve her English (which she speaks to a good level already).

She’s also booked a room with Nido, accommodation for overseas students. She received the following email from Nido, but asked me for help because she couldn’t understand all of the details.

Original letter

We are happy to inform you that your application has been successful and we have provisionally booked a room for you and your application is now pending. [Is the application successful or is it pending? This is confusing.]

In order to confirm your reservation, you will be required to make payments as outlined in your payment plan.

The refundable damage deposit and 2 weeks rent in advance is due first, shortly after receiving this acceptance email.

Please note that your damage deposit will be refunded on the same method it was paid.

A copy of your payment plan is attached.

There are three method of payments accepted:

Credit Card: Attached is a copy of the credit card authorisation …

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