Training Correspondents 1

letters, business, write, correspondence, standard, ability, firm, successful and personal

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4. Personal note necessary in big business.—As a business grows, the dominating personality in the business can not himself superintend the correspond ence. Often the letters gradually lose that personal touch which not infrequently has had much to do with the success of a business when it was young and com paratively small. One of the chief advantages that a firm derives from training correspondents is that by so doing they enable their men to write letters that possess a tone and spirit truly characteristic of the firm. The larger the business becomes, the more nec essary as well as the more difficult it becomes to write letters which will make the addressee feel that he is dealing with human beings much like himself, and not with a cold and impersonal "house." Such training of correspondents is an effective means of securing uniformity of tone in all the letters. If some of the correspondents are not up to the stand ard in writing letters that are courteous, direct and business-like they are liable to destroy the good effect of those that have reached the top grade. Variation in the tone of letters, and even variation in appear ance, is quickly noticed by the addressee and tends to lessen his confidence in the firm. Uniformity in the quality and appearance of letters, on the other hand, gives .the reader a distinct and consistent personal im pression of the firm, which is strengthened by each additional letter. Supervision of all correspondence is necessary to insure this uniformity, and supervision involves training. How to secure a uniformly high standard of excellence in a firm's letters is the main problem in training correspondents.

5. Standardizing problem, therefore, is to bring all correspondence in a business up to a fixed standard, and then gradually to raise this standard thruout the entire house.

Standardization is accomplished first by establish ing definite standards with respect to excellence and the methods by which to attain it. The formation of a definite idea as to what the quality of the corre spondence ought to be, and what kind of correspond ent will be able to write a letter of the required qual ity, is the first step.

It is important to make sure that the correspondents employed are efficient. This involves one or both of two processes : securing better men to take the place of those not up to standard; and training present em ployes who are below standard so that they can fulfil the requirements. The latter cannot be done, of course, unless the correspondent whose work is de ficient possesses the ability to improve.

6. Right kind of type of per son makes a good correspondent? His qualifications, apart from those ordinarily required for success in any other kind of work, are few. Of course the fact that correspondence influences sales and profits natur ally implies that the correspondent's task is a diffi cult one, and that he must receiveoine training be fore he can write effective letters. With these facts

in mind, one executive summarizes his requirements as follows : A high-school education—or the equivalent of high-school training in ability to write correct English.

At least twenty years of age.

At least one year of experience in the business.

Able readily to talk to the point in simple language. Natural carefulness in accurate expression of thought. A sincere spirit of service and courtesy.

Sound moral character ; plain honesty and truthfulness. Willingness to learn from experience.

A good supply of common sense.

This official emphasizes the point that all-around business training and ability are of first importance, for if a man has these he will have the right attitude toward his work, and the ability to think thoroly and accurately. His greatest difficulty is to get correspondents who keenly appreciate the reader's point of view. He prefers a man whose selling sense is sound and abundant, and who has the knack of applying the principles of successful salesman ship.

7. Supervision of ent of Correspondence" is a title which is now fre quently found in business organizations. Whether the organization be large or small, it is advisable to hold some one person, well qualified for the duty, responsible for the character of all the correspondence. This is now done in many concerns. In some in stances this official is called the "Manager of Cor respondence," and in others he is known as "Cor respondence Critic." In very large organizations the work of supervising the correspondence is divided among several officials. But whatever the title of the office or the scope of responsibility, the duty is to keep all letters up to a high standard of efficiency, and the task is primarily to train the men who write them.

To this end the supervisor adopts a definite pro gram. He often holds conferences with individual correspondents and with groups. He prepares writ ten instructions, often in the form of a manual of cor respondence, and seeks to apply the soundest of peda gogical principles in his work. The main point here is that the reader should remember that this task of training correspondents is necessary and important for the reasons already stated.

8. Conferences on correspondence.—Many houses find the conference system of training correspond ents very effective. Not a few firms regularly set aside an hour or so a week for conferences on this subject. As a rule, the correspondents study actual letters, both successful and unsuccessful. They think together on the problem of why a letter was or was not successful; they try also to determine how the unsuccessful letters could have been made effec tive, and how the successful letters could have been improved. These discussions involve the deepest principles of salesmanship, and are, as a rule, of ab sorbing interest, and of great profit to all concerned.

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