I like writing emails because it provides me with a way to occupy myself creatively at work. It is not easy for me, I always struggle to sound professional enough without coming off as a stuck-up prick. In itself, this is a very delicious challenge and when you consider trying to inflect the message with familiarity, attempting to build rapport, subtle manipulation etc etc, it becomes a veritable Herculean challenge.
Yesterday I had to compose one of the most interesting emails I ever had to write. And if you don't find it interesting at all well, that's how boring my life is. But for now, a little back story.
So yesterday a very particular customer walked into one of the stores where our products are sold. They wanted to buy a couple of robot dogs, but not just any robot dog mind you, they wanted the shiny black ones. Unfortunately this store only had the white variety, and the customer was not willing to settle.
Now in the same mall as this store, our sister company happens to have a branch, and this branch happens to have some of those black robot dogs. So what the customer service representative at our partner store, let's call her Ms P, what Ms P does is she sends a text to Ms W, the saleslady at our branch asking if we have robot dogs, the black ones, in stock. Ms W replies that yes, she does have black robot dogs in the store and will Ms P send the customer her way. And Ms P is horrified by this, so horrified she sends an email to their main office and it goes like this:
We have a costumer order of ROBOT DOGS with SHINY BLACK COLOR, 3 units, P100,000 each, but what we have here is the WHITE COLOR so I text Ms. W of A CERTAIN COMPANY and told her about the order.
But then, she's asking me to bring the customer to OTHER STORE (other store here in PROVINCIAL MALL where they also have available units).
I tell her to give us stocks but she says to bring customer there because it will be along time before they restock...
Please help us...
This unfortunate email (notice the symptoms of middle-child syndrome) creates a minor shit storm in their main office where remarks such as "are we showroom that we display their robot dogs and then send the customer along to their stores?" are thrown about. This is not very good for my company because no matter how badly they treat us, we do need them to sell our robot dogs for us. My boss calls me into his office and asks me to write an excuse letter and this is what I come up with:
Thank you for bringing this situation to our attention. I understand how the above episode seems unprofessional to you but what you must understand is that while we also operate OTHER STORE, it belongs to a different company and not ours. So you see it just doesn't make sense for Ms W to turn over the stocks in her store to you. I mean come on, you do have your own operation manuals don't you?
In the first place, why did Ms P text Ms W? Are they friends? Well if they are, Ms P wouldn't rat on Ms W would she. So obviously they're not friends. And the point I'm trying to get across here is that Ms P should have called up our office with a request for black dogs instead of running to OTHER STORE. Like, if Ministop ran out of Nestle Drumsticks I'm sure they don't pull over the manong Nestle cart driver and tell him, "hey Guy, we're out of Chocolate Fudge Brownie Drumsticks, can we have three of yours?" So it's not a perfect analogy but it's just not right.
And why is it that we hear from you immediately after a small slip-up like this happens and when it's your branch that loses 20 of our robot dog spare parts (10 tails, 4 paws, 3 eyes and 3 ears) it takes you forever to make a report. How long has it been since we did an inventory and reported the items missing? Half a year? And how many times have we asked for the report? So we let it slide because we want to work with you and now you have the gall to call us unprofessional?
This is just plain wrong. I humbly propose that we all get over this.
Thank you and have a good day.
If it's a bit rough, that's because it's a first draft, one that is written in white heat. And I feel that it fully reflects the truth of this matter. After repeated readings however, I realize that it is not quite the polite letter my boss asked me to write. He advises me to adopt a lighter tone and reminds me that it's not the complete truth that matters, what matters is the bottom line, and if I piss of these people well, my bottom is going the same way as our profits, that is, out of the window.
So in cold blood I take my cursor to the Word document and ruthlessly revise. I cut out the vitriol and graft in some positive jargon. The end result is a conciliatory message, our excuse padded in promises.
Thank you for bringing this situation to our attention. We will gladly do all we can to accommodate this order as soon as possible. Rest assured that we remain focused on delivering satisfaction to our customers and value to our partners. In the interest of maintaining our good working relationship, I would like to explain the actions of our staff as reported by Ms P.
At the time that Ms P coordinated this request, Ms W was manning OTHER STORE. Although A CERTAIN COMPANY and OTHER STORE are affiliated, they are distinct companies with different business goals. A CERTAIN COMPANY is engaged in distributing robot dogs and related paraphernalia in the Philippines. OTHER COMPANY, on the is a retailer carrying various products, of which robot dogs are just a few. In this light, you can see why Ms W cannot just move stocks from OTHER STORE to YOUR STORE without permission from the office.
Moving forward, may I suggest that any and all concerns regarding robot dogs be referred only to our office. This will help us to address you and your customer needs faster.
Even when I am polite I cannot help but be snide.
Here is a sweet chaser to wash the bitterness down.