Business Correspondence: Meaning and Importance
Written communication is essential for conveying information to key stakeholders in your business. Business writing can involve the correspondence between the business and the client, different businesses, and within the business.
Every day, businesses use some form of written communication to pass messages to the appropriate stakeholders.
The challenge with business writing is that many business owners, executives, and even employees do not know how to write a clear business letter that effectively communicates their message.
Clear business writing is essential for eliminating misunderstandings. That said, business writing is no easy task, especially if you are a non-native English speaker.
This article teaches you the essentials of effective business correspondence, including helpful tips for clear, error-free, and professional business correspondence.
Let’s get started.
Meaning of Business Correspondence
Business correspondence is any form of communication in the business world that conveys a message between or within an organization.
A business person writes or receives letters during his day-to-day activities in his business place. It can be complaint letters, inquiry letters, job application letters, formal business letters, or other written communication letters.
Business correspondence covers all forms of written communication that emanate from business relationships between business partners or via internal communication within the organization.
Essentially, business correspondence is usually issued in the form of letters. It presents the individual in any business communication the unique opportunity to express themselves and seek clarity on issues bothering them about the organization.
In businesses, written communication serves as an effective communication medium. The strength of this medium is that information gets exchanged without affecting the professional relationships between and within organizations.
Importance of Business Correspondence
Business correspondence offers numerous benefits to your business communication, especially the ease of reaching and communicating within and outside your organization's structure.
Face-to-face communication is not always possible, and this is where your business correspondence comes in to aid effectual communication.
1. Helps in Maintaining a Proper Relationship
Sometimes it would seem difficult for your business or organization to get in touch with a particular person or another organization when needed. If this is often the case, it might cost your business or organization dearly.
In this case, a business correspondence would suffice as the best measure to salvage such situations as it helps to maintain a proper relationship among all relevant parties.
Business correspondence is an effective tool for strengthening your business. By improving the internal communication of your business, your business communication becomes more apparent and precise.
2. Serves as Evidence
Business correspondence is a way of helping your business keep records of all its activities. These written records can serve as evidence when needed, just like any other written form of communication.
3. Creates and Maintains Goodwill
A business correspondence assists in creating and maintaining goodwill and proper relationships between your business and its customers.
No matter how negative it may be, business correspondence in inquiry letters, complaint letters, suggestions, or feedback is used to help your organization grow and maintain goodwill.
The idea is to see above all the negatives and look for specific areas of complaints that your organization needs to work on to offer better products and services to your customers.
4. Cheap and Convenient
Business correspondence is usually very cheap and convenient to use as a mode of communication. It saves you valuable resources in terms of time and money that other modes of communication do not.
This mode of communication is very convenient for businesses to incorporate as it requires no new structure to be built before being used.
5. Formal Communication
A business correspondence serves as a formal communication between two parties, and its language is that of a formal and logical one.
With a business correspondence, doubts and issues on the minds of persons involved in your business are subdued as the language conveyed makes your business more acceptable to others.
6. Helps in the Expansion of Your Business
Business correspondence can help your organization achieve its organizational goals as it affords no room for wastage of resources, allowing your business to expand faster.
Types of Business Correspondence
There are many types of business correspondence available for you to choose from as they all have their essential unique functions depending on what works best for your organization.
Here are the popular types of business correspondence.
1. Internal Correspondence
Internal correspondence refers to the flow of information between individuals, departments, branches, and units within the same company.
This business correspondence type can either be formal as promotion letters or memorandum, printed on paper, or informal as an instruction from a top stakeholder to a lower ranking stakeholder, usually issued through emails.
2. External Correspondence
External correspondence is formal communication between two organizations or an organization and its clients. Any correspondence outside an organization falls under this business correspondence type.
This business correspondence type is usually issued to customers and suppliers, government departments, existing and prospective clients, and other organizations outside your own.
3. Routine Correspondence
Routine correspondence is made based on a predetermined routine and does not deviate from this set routine throughout its implementation.
Usually, business correspondence for inquiries, orders, replies, invitations, acknowledgments, and appointment letters are typical examples of routine correspondence.
This business correspondence type is identified by how its correspondence occurs routinely in a well-structured manner.
4. Sales Correspondence
Sales correspondence is a type of correspondence that pertains to the sales operations of your business. It is not just specific to just the sales of a product or service as it stretches out to encompass many other activities.
Delivery letters, marketing letters, invoices, discount letters, and statements of accounts are some famous examples of sales correspondence.
5. Personalized Correspondence
Among all the types of business correspondence, personalized correspondence is the only type based on physical and emotional factors that provide a sense of attachment and belonging to both parties at each end of the correspondence.
Letters of request, recommendation, gratitude and congratulation, letter of introduction, and granting and refusing terms are all notable examples of this type of business correspondence.
When your business wants to convey an ordinary matter or main idea to a large audience, circulars are your go-to business correspondence, among other types of business correspondence.
Notice of tenders, change of contact information, change of address, the opening of a new branch, or launching of a new product or service all falls under scenarios where circulars are usually issued.
Writing in English: 5 Simple Tips for Clear, Professional Business Correspondence
When creating business correspondence, there are some things you need to be mindful of to give your business correspondence an authentic and professional look.
Here are five simple tips for precise and professional business correspondence.
1. Consider the Type of Business Correspondence You Intend to Write
You need to go back and consider the peculiarity of the situation at your organization and reach a conclusion on whether a note, an email, a memo, or a letter would best pass across the message you want to share to the receiver of your business correspondent.
A note is usually written in a hurry when the letter's receiver urgently needs the information in writing. Notes allow for abbreviations and informal punctuations as it is written in a relaxed and friendly manner.
Emails are a great medium for business communication as they are swift and can be easily sent or forwarded to multiple people at a time.
When you are confident that the reader will see the message in time, an email is better suited to convey information than a note, as there is no guarantee when the recipient will get the news.
Memos are written to instruct employees and make announcements on new policies that need to be adhered to by all employees.
Although memos are sent out on paper or as attachments in emails, they differ. In emails, messages are sent to a large audience depending on the closeness of employees in the company.
Business letters are conveyed across different organizations and tend to be formal communication in a positive tone as they are permanently written records.
If you want to respond to a note, email, or letter, you must regard the subject line in the same manner and tone of the message. A business letter can be a cover letter for business materials or important documents.
2. Be Polite
Being polite borders down on choosing the right tone and replying similarly. You need to have the reader in mind when writing your business correspondence.
Generally, the relationship you share with the recipient would determine the tone you would use in replying to their actual message. If you are unsure what tone to use, opt for a neutral tone, as being too formal is better than not being less formal.
Notes are addressed to just one person, and since they are short and detailed, you can start your message with just the name of the person, followed by a brief reason why you are writing the note.
Emails, business letters, and memos are more formal documents and require a subject, be it the recipient's e-mail address or a good subject line.
If you do not have a formal relationship with the recipient, you can either use ‘Dear Mr or Dear Sir’ to address the recipient if he is a man, and for memos, ‘Dear All’ would do the trick.
3. Plan and Stick to It
Writing does not afford you the luxury of time during oral communication, which is why you need a writing plan to save your reader's time.
In the main body of your business correspondence, separate your main ideas into distinct paragraphs.
The first paragraph of your business correspondence should detail why you are issuing the post. It is essential to ensure the recipient knows what awaits them in the mail.
In the closing paragraph, you round up your message and thank the recipient for their time. If there is a need for a response, ask the recipient to do so within the shortest possible time.
4. End on a Positive Note
Even if your message is a complaint, you must keep it formal and polite. Pissing your reader off is not the best way of getting a response from them, as you are likely to be ignored.
If your message is for someone you have a prior relationship with that you addressed at the start of your message by their name, kind regards, respectfully yours and best wishes are suitable end notations for your correspondence.
For formal business correspondence from the onset, yours sincerely or yours faithfully followed by your name and position, and your signature block is a positive way of ending your post.
After the closing paragraph, type your name, job title, company name, and signature.
5. Cross Check for Mistakes and Errors
After writing your business correspondence, you need to proofread and be on the lookout for spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation errors to ensure your post is free from all grammatical blunders.
Using a spell-checking tool to cross-check all your spellings is particularly helpful as spelling mistakes can discredit you in the eyes of the reader.