An interesting article in the Sarasota Herald says that more customers are using e-mail and instant messaging to communicate with companies, and call-center operators also are using those tools. The ability to correspond with a few people simultaneously using instant messaging enables the operators to accomplish more than when they are talking to a single person on the phone. But the writing is often so sloppy that the communication does not reflect well on the company.

While some principles of communication extend to both oral and written messages, there also are differences. One big one is permanence. The words of someone who is an inarticulate speaker do not have the same “staying power” as a written correspondence that reads as if it were written by a teenager.  A poorly written message also is more likely to come back to haunt a company, because the customer can complain that she misunderstood it because of the confusing writing.

Invest the time to make the message look professional. Everyone is in a hurry, but readers are less forgiving about glaring mistakes that make them wince.