Handy tips for politicians from a guide to dealing with customer complaints

Advice on dealing with complaints

The Rubuss Guide to responding to customer complaints contains plenty of advice which is also relevant to MPs, their staff, councillors and others responding to communications from the public.

Point 1 is especially relevant – my heart sinks each time I see a letter that is meant for the public written as if the recipient will already be a true believer who is up with all the latest jargon. Writing not only clearly, but writing persuasively, is the way to go.

Jargon doesn’t explain things and hectoring or ignoring their points doesn’t persuade. If you want to persuade someone you have to do just that, persuade them.

The point about jargon reminds me of the wise words I quoted in Advice for scientists on how to write applies to politicians wanting to speak:

Your reader does not know the words tritrophic, ecological assemblage, genomics or parthenogenesis. That is not because your reader is dumb. It is because scientists made up those words and never told anyone but other scientists. Don’t underestimate the intelligence of your readers. Readers can be very clever, but it is not their job to know all of the words that you and the twelve people you call colleagues made up.

Of course, handling casework well is a key part of many election campaigns, but not the only part…


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