Distributing call loads among our call centers using ICR
[Don’t use periods in headings or titles.][Don’t italicize main headings or titles. Use italics sparingly.][Center titles.]
Call centers are not just a place where we answer customers’ queries. They are places that reflect who we are, our values, our mission, and our work. [Keep most sentences to 10-15 words and just 1-2 points. If a sentence is longer than 20 words and 2 points, break it into shorter sentences.] I believe by addressing the inefficiencies of our call centers we will be able to deliver excellent customer care while increasing productivity.[Addressing inefficiencies means you will me increasing productivity. Always use the most precise word possible.][Always write as concisely as possible. Eliminate every word you don’t absolutely need.][Use “that” only when you need it to make a sentence clear.]
We have five call centers. The calls going to these call centers are not properly distributed. This unequal distribution of calls is causing one call center to have too many calls while the other call centers are dormant. [Repeat key words and key phrases often and without using other words in their place.] [Spell out numbers under 10.] Recently, this unequal distribution of calls resulted in customer hold times of up to 15 minutes at one call center and downtime for representatives averaging 78 minutes at another call center. [You don’t need all the words at the end. Readers will understand that long hold times for customers and long downtime for representatives is a problem.][Avoid using pronouns alone: that, that, it, these, those, he, she,
and so on. Use the words you mean unless repeating them again would sound odd.
Our technical team has been spending an enormous amount of time researching and evaluating different ways to solve this problem.[Use “and” when you list two items.] A system called Intelligent Call Routing ( ICR) will be able to route a customer’s call with his or her account information to the service center with the lowest hold time. Apex Corporation used this system for their three call centers and proved to be very efficient.[Be clear about what Apex is. Always use all the words you need to be perfectly clear.][Use active voice as much as possible. That means first stating the actor followed by the action: Apex Corporation used…, Fred wants…, The managers prefer
, and so on.]
How we plan to install the ICR system
[Don’t make this italics.]
There are three steps to installing the ICR system:[Always follow a heading with a sentence that repeats the heading’s key words.]
[ Always introduce a list so readers know what the list is.]
- Collect data from all our call centers.[Good job using a numbered list for the steps.][List items must be written in a parallel format. If one is a complete sentence all must be. It one begins with a verb, all must. If one begins with an “ing” verb, all must, and so on. Your other list items don’t begin with “ing” verbs, so this shouldn’t either.]
Every call center has its own challenges and strengths. We will collect data from our call centers so we do not generalize as we carry out this ICR project.[Indent these sentences to align under your list items. They should not be flush to your left margin.]
- Do a productivity analysis to determine the resources at each call center.[Use “the” here because you are referring to specific resources: the ones at each call center.][Don’t use Latin words and Latin abbreviations such as per, via, e.g., etc., and so forth. Instead, use the English word(s) you mean.]
We believe some call centers will need more resources than others. We will do a financial analysis and a ROI for each call center to determine which call center gets what.[Use “who” for people.]
- Roll out this project in phases.We will then monitor each call center for problems for oneor two months.[Begin a new sentence after (and under) your list item, just as you did with the other list items. Be consistent in your format in your document.][Write as concisely as possible.]
SKILLS YOU HAVE MASTERED
- You had no spelling errors.
- You had no grammar errors.
- You began a new paragraph when you began a new topic.
- Your information is logically organized.
- You used a vertical list to make information clear.
- You used a numbered list rather than a bulleted list since the list was a process to be done in a particular order.
- You used “we” freely when talking about your company.
- For the most part, you write naturally, using the same words and phrasing you’d use when speaking.
SKILLS TO WORK ON
- Don’t use periods in headings or titles.
- Don’t italicize main headings or titles.
- Use italics sparingly.
- Center titles.
- Keep most sentences to 10-15 words and just 1-2 points. If a sentence is longer than 20 words and 2 points, break it into shorter sentences.
- Always use the most precise word possible.
- Write as concisely as possible. Eliminate every word you don’t absolutely need.
- Use “that” only when you need it to make a sentence clear.
- Repeat key words and key phrases often and without using other words in their place.
- Spell out numbers under 10.
- Avoid using pronouns alone: that, that, it, these, those, he, she, and so on. Use the words you mean unless repeating the words you mean again would sound odd.
- Use “and,” not a comma, when you list two items.
- Always use all the words you need to be perfectly clear.
- Use active voice as much as possible. That means first stating the actor followed by the action: Apex Corporation used…, Fred wants…, The managers prefer, and so on.
- Always follow a heading with a sentence that repeats the heading’s key words.
- Always introduce a list so readers know what the list is.
- Write list items must be written in a parallel format.
- Use “the” when you are referring to specific things.
- Don’t use Latin words and Latin abbreviations such as per, via, e.g., etc., and so forth. Instead, use the English word(s) you mean.
- Use “who” for people.
[Read following. You don’t have to read every link. Read only as much as you need to understand the rule related to your error.]
Simple Sentence Structures
Generally, use simple sentences unless a longer sentence makes a relationship clearer. Quality business writing is speaking to your reader in a natural way through your writing. Avoid long sentences requiring unusual constructions that leave room for error and confusion, especially if you are having some problems with use of the language. If you do use a longer sentence, avoid constructions that sound odd to you or you are not sure of. If you can rearrange a sentence or say it in a different way so the sentence uses less punctuation, do so. Your average sentence length should be fewer than 15 words. A good average sentence length for a business document is between 10 and 15 words. Use common, everyday words. When you have a choice of words, choose the simpler word. Have only one or two ideas in a sentence, or occasionally three. When a sentence has more than 20 words or two ideas, see whether you can break it into smaller sentences.
In linguistics, we explain that writing has a deep structure and a surface structure. The deep structure is the meaning. The surface structure is the text used to communicate the meaning.
These two statements have the same deep structure but different surface structures. In other words, they convey the same meaning:
The corporate agency charged with audit functions executed a standard audit analysis of the internal agency tasked with recording and maintaining accounting data.
Our audit department audited the accounting department.
Business writers choose the deep structure based on the content, including highly technical content for professionals in technical fields. They choose the surface structure based on how clearly they want to communicate. Any deep structure can be communicated clearly using common, everyday words and short sentences that are easy to understand. There is no loss of meaning, but it communicates more easily and clearly. If you felt some subtle meaning was lost in the clear, simple text, you would add it using common words and short sentences. This is twenty-first century business writing.
[Read #8 about Superfluous Commas.]
Always write as concisely as possible. Proofread your writing to eliminate every word you don’t absolutely need to make your point. Don’t state the obvious. You almost never need “in order to.” Just say “to…” Use “that” only when you need it to make a sentence clear.
Avoid Using Pronouns Alone
Avoid using pronouns such as “it,” “they,” “he” “she,” “that,” and “this.” Pronouns stand for nouns. Writers use them to avoid having sentences that sound awkward or repetitive and seem to suggest two different things are being referred to. You would not say or write, “Frank entered the room. Frank spoke for five minutes.” You would say or write, “Frank entered the room. He spoke for five minutes.”
However, the text can become unclear when what the pronoun refers to isn’t clear: “Frank and John entered the room. He spoke for five minutes.” Because what pronouns stand for can be unclear, use the noun unless writing the noun twice in close proximity makes sounds odd or repetitive. Avoid using pronouns.
When you do use a pronoun, consider adding defining words. For example, instead of just “bring along this,” write “bring along this software package we bought,” Instead of “we discussed that,” write “we discussed that building beside the office.” Instead of just “the company received these,” write “the company received these new samples.”
Use precise words rather than general words. These are examples:
Vague words Precise words
Provide – Mail, email, call
The document – The Johnson report
Review – Read the report and give me your evaluation
ASAP – By tomorrow afternoon, by Friday at noon
Relevant information – Any documents we need to evaluate
[Stop reading at “Enhancing Writing with Figurative Language.”]
Using Key Terms
Words represent concepts. Once you use a concept word or phrase, you must not change the word because the reader may assume that a new word means a new concept. That will create confusion. Repeat key words and key phrases often and without changing them.
Look at this sentence: “Holding training sessions in several remote sites would be better than bringing people in from the field to the home office.” These are the key words: training sessions, several remote sites, bringing people in from the field, and home office.
You learned in high school English to avoid repeating words to make the writing sound good. That is true with words that carry no essential meaning. However, don’t use alternative words for the key words. Use them over and over again without changing them. In business writing, your objective is to communicate clearly, not write the great American novel. For example, don’t call something “the photocopier,” “the copy machine,” and “the copier.” If you call it “the photocopier,” use that term throughout your document so there won’t be any chance readers will become confused.
Read the explanation of key terms in the online lesson at http://businesswriting.com/210/210lesson5.htm
. When you finish reading the explanation of key terms, you may stop reading this lesson.
, 8th edition, pages 345, 473-474, 776; 9th edition, pages 240-241, 450 (26b), 472, 485-486, 803.
When you have a list with items that are more than a few words long, break the list out and either number or bullet the items. Use numbers if you are listing items to be done in a certain order; otherwise, use round solid bullets. Indent the list one-half inch from the left and align the numbers or bullets not too far left of the words in the list items, as in the example here. If an item in your list wraps to a second line, put a line of white space between all the items in your list. Second level lists should be indented in one-half inch further from the list above it. Use round, open bullets for second-level lists.
Never have a list of only one item; a list must include at least two items. Make sure your list items are all on the same topic, such as all changes, all benefits, all steps, or so on. Write items in your list in a parallel format, such as all starting with verbs, all beginning with –ing
words, all complete sentences, all finish the lead-in words, or so forth. Put a line of white space before and after a list. Always introduce a list (including sublists) so the reader knows what the list is.
A writer first wrote this paragraph:
“Before you leave this unit you should be able to state the organizing principles of clinical supervision, describe how you could use this method of supervision, and list the skills you need to use this methodology competently.”
Then the writer decided to break out the list to make the information clearer:
“Before you leave this unit you should be able to
State the organizing principles of clinical supervision
Describe how you could use this method of supervision
List the skills you need to use this methodology competently
NOTE: When a list item wraps to a second line, put a line of white space between all the items in the list.
Using colons with lists: Introduce a list with no punctuation at all when the part of the sentence preceding the list is an incomplete sentence. In other words, use no punctuation at all if you would never use a period at that place in a regular sentence. If the sentence introducing the list is complete, use a colon instead of a period.
: Connecting list items with “and” and punctuation at the end of the list items is acceptable, but it is falling out of fashion. Lists aren’t meant to be read as sentences. They’re meant to present individual items so the reader can see the items separately. Using “and” and punctuation at the end of the list items adds information the reader doesn’t need for the information to be clear. The website Grammar Girl explains it well:
Finally, your text will be easier to read if you don’t put commas or semicolons after the items, and don’t put a conjunction such as and
before the last item. All of these things are unnecessary clutter. If you find yourself wanting to format it this way, it probably means you should write it as a sentence instead of a list.
Read more here: https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/how-to-format-a-bulleted-list-and-more?page=1
If you do want to use “and,” most style guides, including the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), say it’s better to put a list in sentence form instead. However, you may use punctuation and “and” in the list items when the lead-in is an incomplete sentence. Use “and” with the next-to-last item, use commas after all the list items, and a period after the last item. You must begin the items with a lowercase letter:
The CEO announced that
they are seeking an IT director,
they would be accepting applications for six weeks,
the applicants must have a master’s degree, and
the salary would be $50,000 a year.
How to use Word’s automatic bullets or numbers: