When you’ve worked in the industry a long time, it’s inevitable that you will view things that you put into place very differently through the long tunnel of time.
When I set up the Medical Information team in MSD many, many years ago, I had to look at what the company was doing already, take what I thought was good, develop better work practices and set service standards.
Little did I realise the phrase
“If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me”
would haunt me. We set this phrase as the standard way to close our Medical Information letters (yes, we are talking about the late 1980s, before MSD got email).
I’ve run many writing workshops over the last few years and I come across this phrase time and time again.
I hate it.
Why would anyone hesitate to contact a service department? And, even worse, this phrase just won’t die! I’ve seen it hard wired into MI query management systems as the reply closing phrase. It’s even written into Standard Response templates and SOPs, so I have little chance of killing it off!
Why do I react so much to just a simple phrase? I become a convert to using Plain English techniques in medical writing, after seeing the winning Aventis (now Sanofi) poster in the 2002 PIPA Information Impact award back. The team showed how long descriptive text could be transformed by using tables and active tenses.
So every time I see “if you need……”, my hands twitch to correct it to the more useful phrase
“If you need any more information, please contact me on 07545 972727”
- No redundant words
- Clear instructions about how to contact me
- Easy to add alternative contact details if you want email as well.
So, next time you come to review your SOPs, rethink your templates and really think about the little things that can make your customer experience a delight, not nightmare, just consider how you close your replies.
And if you want to know more about writing courses, please do not hesitate to contact me 😉