Business Letters

Adjustment Letters

An adjustment letter is a response to a written complaint. The objective is to inform the reader that their complaint has been received. It is also a legal document recording what decisions were made and what actions have or will be taken.

Keep in mind that your reader has been inconvenienced. This is a prime goodwill building opportunity. Everybody makes mistakes and when a business owns up to one it goes along way to renewing the customer's confidence in a continued business relationship.

The scope of your adjustment letter should reiterate the relevant facts of the claim. When the customer is right, include a forthright admission to that effect and extend a sincere apology. When the customer is not right, explain the reasons clearly and with every courtesy.

Counter any negativity that may be in the complaint letter with a positive approach. Be gracious and emphasize the corrective steps being taken. Explanations for why the situation occurred are of less importance than the solution.

Identify Your Reader

An adjustment letter should be addressed to a person who has filed a claim upon which a decision has been made. That person's name will often be found in the complimentary close of a complaint letter and should be placed in the inside heading and the salutation of your adjustment. It should also be included on the top line of your envelope.

Remember that people do business with people first, businesses second. When you address your reader by name, you recognize their individual importance and value as a human being.

Establish Your Objective

The objective of an adjustment letter is to inform the reader that an unsatisfactory situation is being corrected. You should avoid excuses or long explanations about what went wrong. Stick to the facts of the adjustment and your reader will comprehend the corrective action that you are offering or have already implemented.

In the first paragraph, the writer apologizes for an incorrect shipment and clearly admits that a mistake has been made. He then provides the details of the solution. In the end he does not reiterate his apology. Once said, leave well enough alone and focus on positive actions.

Determine Your Scope

The scope of an adjustment letter should reiterate the relevant facts of a claim, accept responsibility for an error or defect, and offer an apology. It should provide the reader with an exact description, including dates, times and places that corrective actions will take place.

The writer explicitly goes beyond that which was called for in the claim. In an effort to retain goodwill he discounts the original purchase price with a credit to the account of the inconvenienced customer.

Organize Your Letter

Organizing your adjustment letter will establish a logical order in which to present information regarding a corrective action. You have already begun this task by establishing an objective and determining your scope. Refer back to them. Together they include much of the content that will become the body of your letter.

A simple outline will get you organized. Begin by creating a list of points that your letter will address and put them in the sequential order that will best help your reader comprehend your adjustment. These points will become the backbone of your draft; your outline will become a checklist.

Draft Your Letter

Working from an outline is the simplest way to draft a adjustment letter. You have already organized yourself by creating a list. Refer back to it and turn each fragment into a full and complete sentence expressing a single thought or idea.

In order that your thoughts and ideas are conveyed in a cohesive manner, write in as natural a sounding voice as possible. Try writing your draft quickly and then read it out loud. Concentrate on communicating your objective to your reader. Make sure that the scope of your letter contains all the relevant information included in your organizational list.

Keep in mind that you are writing a rough draft. For the moment you can ignore spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence and paragraph structure. Those are technical details that you will pay attention to in the final step when you review and revise your work.

Close Your Letter

An adjustment letter should close in a professional manner. Once your last paragraph is written, sign off between a complimentary close such as "Sincerely," or "Thank you," and your printed name.

If you are writing in conjunction with an official duty, place your title below the printed name as in the sample adjustment letter. Additional information such as dictation remarks, notification of attachments, enclosures and copies sent to other individuals should be placed beneath your title line.

Review and Revise Your Adjustment Letter

Reviewing and revising the draft of your adjustment letter is a final inspection, a last check to see whether your objective is clearly stated and your scope concisely defined. Put yourself in the reader's shoes and ask whether the details are accurate and complete.

Look for obvious errors. Check for spelling, sentence structure and grammar mistakes. Your complaint should be direct and to the point, so make sure that you have used a strong active voice.

Keep in mind the overall cohesiveness of your letter. Look for accuracy, clarity and a sense of completeness. Ask yourself if the transitions between paragraphs are working and if your point of view, tone and style are consistent throughout the text.

Examine your word choices carefully. Ambiguous words lead to confusion. Jargon and abstract terms may not be understood at all and affectations, cliches and trite language serve no real purpose and will obscure your objective.

If you have not written an opening or a closing now is the time. The introduction should lead into the letter with a firm statement about the application's status. The conclusion should reiterate your objective and, when appropriate, contain an attractive inducement to a future business transaction.

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Introduction