The Best Writing Advice I’ve Ever Received

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Let me first preface this by saying that no one piece of advice will make you a great writer overnight. Writing well takes practice and a willingness to seek out and accept feedback from others who may write better than you. This might take the form of a teacher or professor grading your work, or a quality review for those of you working in a contact center, or it may simply occur when you start a blog and suddenly all of your grammarian friends come out of the woodwork to correct your every move.

Regardless of what you’re writing for, there’s a piece of advice that has stood apart from all others and it came from my parents many moons ago. They were always sticklers on proofreading— but when I talk about proofreading, I need to first split it into two varieties. First, there’s the kind where you read what you wrote on a computer screen silently to yourself. Then there’s the deluxe version where you read what you wrote out loud, forcing you to say and hear every word on the page.

The critical piece of advice my parents gave me was to proofread everything I write out loud. In school, an entire letter grade typically hinged on whether or not I followed that advice. At work, it prevents unsightly typos and poor communication when a clear, concise message is what’s needed.

In a customer service setting where we are surrounded by the hustle and bustle of our colleagues working with customers and we have a time sensitive backlog of emails to work through, this can be a tricky discipline. Take the time, albeit quietly, to read what you write out loud before you click send. Even if you are adding a sentence or two to a macro (canned response), read it out loud to make sure it flows nicely. Also, depending on the importance of the communication, it’s not a bad idea to get a second pair of eyes to read it as well.

A well written message to a customer may actually reduce the number of messages they need to send to get their issue resolved. Furthermore, the quality of our writing reflects on the brands that we represent. While I don’t claim to be a great writer, I am an effective writer thanks to the practice of proofreading out loud. Give this a shot and see if the quality of your writing doesn’t instantly improve.

Jeremy-Watkin-Blog-Profile
Jeremy Watkin
Head of Quality
FCR

Jeremy Watkin is the Head of Quality at FCR. He has more than 15 years of experience as a customer service professional.  He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog.  Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership.  Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

5 Comments. Leave new

Monica Norton (@monicalnorton)
10/14/2016 2:19 pm

Great advice, Jeremy! Every unclear sentence, every awkward phrase, every irritating buzzword will reveal itself when you read your text out loud.

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John Watkin
10/17/2016 4:43 am

I love to hear about those times when parents get it right!

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Jeremy Watkin
10/17/2016 8:50 am

You did good, Dad :)

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The Best Writing Advice I’ve Ever Received - Customer Service Life
11/02/2016 5:00 am

[…] post was originally published on the FCR blog on October 14, 2016. Click here to read the […]

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Dude, How Do You Find Enough Time to Write?
01/30/2017 2:29 pm

[…] If you’ve answered these questions and you’re still convinced you want to write, the final hurdle is to block out the time and get it done. Personally, I’m at my best when I have a time limit. Assuming I have a list of topics to choose from, I like to block out the time needed, get a drink at Starbucks, and hammer it out. That time limit helps me lock in and focus on the task at hand. Also don’t forget to edit that post before it goes live (here’s some advice). […]

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