For a few weeks before Christmas, I spent much of my time helping my wife with her fast-growing online business. For a couple of months, she spent 18 hours a day making lovely ceramic gifts while I looked after the logistics of sending hundreds of orders far and wide.
For a long period, our lead time for orders was around 3 weeks. This was clearly marked on the product pages and in the confirmation e-mail when customers placed
an order. For most people that was fine but, as you would expect, a handful of people got in touch to ask if they could receive their order a bit sooner.
This is typical of the emails I was receiving from clients:
I recently ordered a personalised necklace for my mum’s Christmas present. I note from the email that the estimated date of dispatch for this is 17 December which will be after I last see her before Christmas. Is there any possible way of a quicker dispatch?
On the face of it, this seems like a perfectly polite request. But look closer. Nowhere does the customer use a small but important word: ‘please’.
For a few weeks I was receiving several of these emails every day. Clearly we couldn’t prioritise everyone’s order, so I developed a simple rule. If the customer said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, I’d prioritise it. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t.
Now. I appreciate that this may seem a bit picky and a bit arrogant. However, it actually got me thinking about how easy it is for manners to go out of the window when you write. Had any of these people spoken to me about their order, I expect all of them would automatically
have said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.
I then began to notice that I wasn’t saying ‘please’ in my own emails and correspondence either, even when I was asking quite a favour. This is something that I’ve immediately tried to remedy.
As copywriters, we spend days asking people to ‘call us now’ or ‘get in touch today’ without ever saying ‘please’. I appreciate that it’s not relevant (or indeed appropriate) in all cases, but wouldn’t your copy be
a little bit warmer and more polite if you just said the magic word once in a while?
Have you had any success with using the word ‘please’? Do you automatically include it? And does your copywriting mind its manners? Please share your thoughts below.
Author: Nick Parkhouse, Published 11 January 2013