How good are your grammer and spelling?

ErrorRegular (and careful) readers of my blog will inevitably come across a typo or an awkward sentence in one of my posts. Some readers will even contact me and let me know about the more obvious ones that slip through. 

While I’m usually pretty good at avoiding errors in my posts, the quantity of posts I write, my inherent lack of an editor, and the relatively informal style of writing that I write my blog posts with makes errors inevitable. Even with an occasional error, though, I still have better grammar than a lolcat and never use resort to using chatspeak.

But some, even in professional situations, don’t have better grammar than a lolcat and do use chatspeak.

A surprising number of companies and customer service supervisors don’t place any sort of emphasis or seem to care much about employees using proper spelling and grammar when communicating with customers. The companies may care officially, but judging from what their representatives type and send out, the rules don’t seem to be enforced. It is quite likely that you have been in a customer service live chat or seen an email from a customer service representative that was filled with spelling and grammar mistakes, many of which were painfully obvious and incredibly easy to avoid.

While no one expects a customer service representative to write like Shakespeare or Steinbeck (if they can, they should consider changing jobs), they should be expected to fully spell out words, to use punctuation appropriately, to be able to use the right “your”, to know the difference between than and then and to and too, and so on. Most of the things that people mess up on are simple things that everyone was taught in middle school (and probably before that). The correct usages are readily available online and very easy to test representatives on. Improper spelling and grammar is a terrible way to lose customer confidence because it is so easy to avoid.

After you finish reading this post, check out some of the emails that come from your company and/or take a few minutes to monitor some of the conversations going on through your live chat. What type of spelling and grammar is being used? Does it present the image that you want to present?

And just in case you didn’t realize, the errors in the title of the post were intentional.

7 Responses to “How good are your grammer and spelling?”

  1. Don Steele said:

    Jan 25, 09 at 5:09 pm

    FYI – Everone knows that the 3th floor is the floor closer to the fourth floor than to the 3rd floor.

    I enjoyed reading your blog.

  2. Service Untitled» Blog Archive » The Mass-Email Checklist said:

    Jan 26, 09 at 7:01 pm

    […] your spelling and grammar once […]

  3. steve curtin said:

    Jan 27, 09 at 1:39 pm

    Thanks for your post. I agree that it’s often the “little things” that mean the most. Customers notice details like spelling in signage and the appearance of physical space and employees. And they draw conclusions based on them. In this case, a language barrier is likely the cause – and customers will oftentimes make allowances for language barriers. That said, peers or supervisors who only see a wet floor sign or notice the mistake and choose to look the other way are guilty of indifference.
    I once worked for a hotel general manager who said, “If you close your eyes once (i.e., look the other way as opposed to taking the proper initiative), you’ve lowered your standards.”
    That applies to correcting signage inaccuracies as well as picking up debris, answering ringing phones, cleaning up spills, holding doors for customers, etc. It’s the little things that add up over time that form lasting impressions and make or break the customer experience.

  4. Management, Human Resources, and Life in a Customer Focused World » Customer Service Emails, Spelling & Grammar said:

    Feb 13, 09 at 8:31 pm

    […] Service Untitled wrote a post called “How good are your grammer and spelling?“.  Yes, the errors in the title were on purpose, but it gets the point across.   Customer […]

  5. Pio Borges said:

    Mar 17, 09 at 11:18 am

    It is funny. During years we foreigners accepted English terms and put them on use against de grammar specialists. But we knew that this was unescapable.
    Now you suffer with the “new” Internet lingo.
    Sorry, friends I bet that in a few years we all will be using it.
    My grandson – that speaks Portuguese,but also speaks French and English is also able in Internetese, as all his colleagues.

  6. Joe Duffy said:

    Mar 17, 09 at 11:45 am

    Downsizing, overload and working at breakneck speeds support error-plagued results. And as this becomes more commonplace, customers’ embarrassing discoveries will continue to climb. Resurrect third-party proofers and a culture of articulation. Hold monthly review meetings about your stylebook, which should contain proper on-line chatting etiquette. Protect that brand and enhance trust, which weakens with each peccadillo.

  7. Ted Duboise said:

    Mar 17, 09 at 3:39 pm

    As you say, my posts may not be 100% correct grammatically, but I can’t stand seeing the errors some people seemingly let slip through. Does s/he not even proofread her/his work before publishing? Thanks for writing this article and I hope everyone on the web reads it. I’m going to re-tweet it.