I'm a writer, editor and content strategist for business and non-profit clients.
As a result, I'm often the go-to person when strange emails or letters come in.
Yep, I'm the lucky person who gets to write responses to weird questions!
So imagine my delight when I first heard of Ted. L. Nancy’s Letters From A Nut.
The nuts and bolts of “Letters”
This book offers pages of off-the-wall prank letters that Nancy (a pseudonym) has typed (on a typewriter, no less!) to Fortune 500 and lesser-known companies across the U.S.
Some of my favourite letters involve Nancy:
contacting Hanes Underwear with a new product idea: “Six-Day Underwear” with three leg-hold openings;
asking a restaurant to host his annual “Male Tickle Club” meeting; and
offering to buy a window mannequin from a department store, because it uncannily resembles Nancy's deceased neighbour.
Adding to the hilarity: Nancy is always extremely courteous and complimentary of each organization’s products and services.
Responding to a Nut
Having received (and been forced to respond to) my own fill of messed-up messages, I can certainly empathize with Nancy’s targets (the businesses, a.k.a. my would-be clients).
I'm sure they questioned the validity (and sanity) of the writer. They probably even contemplated ignoring Nancy outright.
But here's the neat thing: the companies featured in his books not only responded, but did so with a great deal of sensitivity and tact.
Just check out this book excerpt to see what I mean.
Customer service excellence
Through carefully chosen tone, word choice and writing style, each business took time to ensure Nancy felt respected, appreciated and “heard.”
You may be wondering though...why would they bother?
Because these organizations understood that every customer – whether potential or existing – makes a difference to the bottom line.
(Not to mention, there is no reason to be unkind.)
In a nutshell...
Letters From A Nut was first published in 1997 (back when sending letters wasn't necessarily considered "hipster").
In today's age of information overload, I wonder if as many businesses would be willing to respond to someone like Nancy - or if they would ignore his letters altogether.
I'd like to think it would be the former.
Not everyone has the respect for customer service and flair for writing that Nancy's "penpals" had - but I believe all professional communicators should aspire to follow their lead.
Thoughts? Comment in the section below!
"Ottawa writer for hire" Lindsey McCaffrey is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and content strategist for businesses and non-profit organizations. Learn more about Lindsey here.