11. Classification of adjustment most common classification of adjustment letters is ac cording to the kind of complaint; that is, delayed shipments, defective goods, shortages, and so on. In each case, it is possible for the house not only to fix the general policy of adjustment, but also to lay down definite instructions in regard to what the contents of the letter shall be. For example, in the case of de lay in transit, the letter should give definite informa tion concerning the date, and the method and route of shipment; the correspondent should express regret concerning the delay, and should promise that the firm will immediately give assistance if it shall be found, after a tracer has been sent, that the shipment has been lost. He should also offer to duplicate the order promptly in such a case, if the customer desires him to do so.
The cause of the trouble largely determines the kind of letter to be written. If, for instance, the cause of the delay in transit happens to be a mistake on the part of the shipping department, and is not due to any negligence on the part of the transporta tion company, the correspondent should frankly admit the error and explain how it occurred, and if a claim has been made for damages resulting from the delay, should grant it, provided the facts substantiate it. Thus, it is clear that the responsibility for the trouble is another important basis of classification.
Still another important basis for the classification of adjustment letters is the degree of seriousness of the loss to the house or to the customer. In general, it is advisable to give especially careful attention to the more serious cases, altho this policy may be disputed from the theoretical standpoint.
Such classifications in a limited way allow the use of form letters and form paragraphs in the handling of the similar complaints. But comparatively few complaints can safely be answered by means of forms. Most cases are difficult, and these are the kind in which it is necessary to apply skilfully the fundamental prin ciples of effective letter-writing, which are mentioned in the first part of this book.
12. Simpler classes of adjustment often the simple cases, which involve no serious trou ble, offer an opportunity for skilful work. The fol lowing complaint letter, received from a woman by a big mail-order house, and the method of dealing with the complainant, are evidence of this fact.
Dear Sirs: Last week I received the Oil Stove No. 113, also the groceries. The Oil Stove we do not like. Can you furnish me with a wick-stove like this so I can set it on my cook stove? Please let me know at once how we can exchange. This stove is in just as good shape as when we received it.
Yours truly, The idea of the firm in answering this letter was to encourage the customer to keep the wickless stove, since .they knew that it would prove entirely satis factory as soon as she became accustomed to it. One correspondent in handling the case wrote as follows: Dear Madam: On referring to our records we find that we sell a great many more wickless oil stoves than wick-stoves. The wick less stove that you purchased is one of our best sellers and one that should give satisfaction to you, as it has to thou sands of others.
We however, do not expect our customers to keep goods with which they are not satisfied, and if you do not want the stove, you may return it to us. For your convenience in doing so we inclose tag and bills of lading.
When you make the shipment you can let us know just how you want this case handled, that is, what stove you want in place of the one you are returning. Your wishes in the matter will have our immediate attention.
Yours very truly, But that letter was not sent. It was held up by an older correspondent who was responsible for train ing the young man that wrote it. The older corre spondent suggested the following letter: Dear Madam: You may return the unsatisfactory stove by freight, col lect, making use of the inclosed triplicate bills of lading and tag. After shipment, mail the original bill of lading to us in the inclosed envelop and we shall be very glad to send you an other stove that you may select. We should be glad to send this stove now, but you have not told us just what you want.
We sincerely regret that you received a stove which did not prove to be just what you wanted, but we are glad you have called our attention to the fact, as we are always willing and anxious to live up to our guarantee of satisfaction. You may be sure that your reply will be given prompt at tention.
A review of our records shows that we sell a great many more wickless oil-stoves than wick-stoves. Most of our customers find the wickless stoves more to their liking, and your stove, in particular, has been one of our best sellers. We believe that if you will try this stove for a while you will not think of returning it. If you decide to keep the stove no reply to this letter will be necessary.
Yours truly, In this letter eagerness to satisfy the customer is plainly evident in the first sentence; then the writer makes a skilful transition to a definite suggestion— without the slightest hint of argument or even of a request—that the customer keep the stove. This let ter was successful. No reply came back. Such let ters as the two given above illustrate what a vast dif ference in effectiveness there may be between indi vidual adjustment letters of the simplest type.
13. List of practical list of "Inside Tips on Adjustment Letters," has been prepared for a mail-order house. The following "tips" are quoted from this list: Welcome every complaint.
Sympathize with the complainant.
Show willingness to make right any wrong.
Avoid promises unless you are sure you can keep them. Get at the facts of the case.
Avoid arguments—state facts.
Be courteous, but not effusive.
Cheer up all the time.
Avoid weak-sounding apologies—admit derogatory facts frankly—make good with deeds rather than with words. Have a good reason for each concession.
Never suggest that you suspect the customer of dishon esty or carelessness.
Give the customer the benefit of any doubt.
Don't cause the customer inconvenience, especially for anything that is our fault.
Satisfy the customer, if possible; but be just as fair to the house as to the customer. That's the only kind of fair ness that is fair.