Types of Business LetterThis is a featured page

Effective written communication is one of the most important and valued skills in business, and the most common use of this skill is the business letter. Despite increased dependence on technology, such as videoconferencing and voice mail, the most frequent type of business communication is the written document. Like any other type of communication, the business letter should be clear, concise, ethical, professional, and accurate.

In addition to the basic format and guidelines that should be used for effective letter writing, it is equally important for us to know what type of business letter is it that we are writing. This will provide the writer with a clearer purpose so that the message can be effectively communicated to the reader.

Common Types of Business Letters

Order Letter

The order letter is the most common form of business communication, and it is written to a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer. When writing an order letter, include all the information the reader will need to identify the merchandise, such as:
  • Quantity
  • Model number
  • Color
  • Dimensions
  • Capacity
  • Material
  • Price

Inquiry Letter

The purpose of the inquiry letter is to obtain information from the reader. If the reader is expecting the letter, your task is easy. For example the following could be sent to an advertising agency:

Dear Mr. Anderson: Attached to this letter is a list of items and services which we anticipate ordering from your firm. Please send me a price list, along with your terms and conditions of sale, applicable discounts, shipping rates and additional sales and corporate policies for those items. . .

Mr. Anderson's company receives many of these requests each month and he would have no problem comprehending the meaning or necessary actions for his response.

If the reader is not expecting your letter, then it is more difficult to compose. In this case, following these four guidelines will be helpful:
  • State your purpose
  • List your questions or requested action
  • In some case, you might offer something in return to encourage action
  • Follow up with a thank you note, e-mail, or phone call to the person who helped with your request

Response to an Inquiry Letter

When you receive an inquiry letter, answer any questions clearly and concisely. If you cannot answer the questions, explain the reasons and offer to assist with alternate ways of finding the answers.

Sales Letter

When writing a sales letter, it is important to project a good attitude. This comes back to the tone of the letter. Your readers will need to be convinced that they should spend the time and effort on your letter. Your information should be clear and specific. You are selling a product, service, or idea so your letter should demonstrate why they would be interested in buying from you.

Sales letters usually have a four-part strategy:
  • Catch the eye of your reader. Your first words set the stage. It is very critical in a sales letter to attract the reader's attention immediately or it will probably fail.
  • Describe what you are trying to sell.
  • Convince your reader that your claims are accurate: back up your comments with research and facts.
  • Give the reader opportunities to learn more: provide the reader with a phone number, website address, or some way for them locate information on their own.

Claim Letter

The more professional and well-written the claim letter, the better chance you have of receiving a positive response to your claim. Consider the following procedure when writing a claim letter:
  • Identify the product or service
  • Explain the problem
  • Propose a solution
  • End the letter respectfully

Adjustment Letter (responding to a claim letter)

When a complaint is received, you respond by explaining how you plan to handle the situation. Regardless of what your final decision is, your purpose remains the same: show that you value your customer's business and concerns, and that your company is fair and reasonable.

If the customer's complaint can be resolved, simply express your regret about the situation, state the correction you will make, and end on a positive note by encouraging future business with your company.

Source: http://www.theofficecompany.com/Articles_Forms/current/ltr_tutor_p1.htm#Common

Also refer to http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/documents/business_writing/business_letter/index.cfm for more information regarding letter types.

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