When someone sends you a letter requesting information of some kind, it's important to respond promptly and briefly but without sounding curt. The key to a good letter answering request information or a reply letter to a request of documents is to sound as if you're happy to provide the information if you can or truly sorry if you cannot. Never sound as if they're bothering you with their request.
Start With a Personal Greeting
Letters requesting information of some kind are always signed by an individual, so be sure you start your letter with a personal reply to the letter writer. Computers make it easy to address the person by name even if you're using a template.
If the request letter was signed by Ms. Susan Kennedy, you should reply with "Dear Ms. Kennedy" followed by a comma or a colon. If the letter writer signed more informally, such as just "Susan Kennedy," it's always safe to use "Ms." However, if your business is known for being fun, hip or young, you may feel comfortable writing "Dear Susan" instead. When the name doesn't reveal the gender, use the first name: "Dear Alex" or "Dear Drew."
Open With Your Reason
Your first sentence should explain the reason for your letter. It may seem obvious that because the individual wrote to you first, he'll know why you're responding. However, stating this up front helps confirm that you're both talking about the same thing. When the inquiry was sent to someone else who forwarded it to you to reply, you need to also state that to avoid any confusion.
Sentence 1 Examples:
- This letter is in response to your request for information about our cleaning products.
- I'm writing in response to your request for information about our services.
- Our VP of sales, Vicki Swenson, forwarded your recent letter to me since I handle requests for information.
If possible, follow this opening with a second sentence showing that you're pleased to be able to help.
Sentence 2 Examples:
- I'm happy to help clear up the confusion.
- I'm pleased to provide you with answers that can help you make your decision.
Provide the Requested Information
Start a new paragraph to provide the requested information as briefly as possible. If the information is lengthy or complicated, and you have a document that explains it well, state that you've included this document.
- We have two products, sage and quartz, that I believe you will find quite useful. Sage is a (brief description), while quartz is more of a (brief description).
- We have several products in this category, and I've enclosed brochures on each one that explain their features, benefits and best uses.
Avoid impersonal phrases like "Enclosed please find..." Make your letter friendly and conversational by writing "I've enclosed..."
When You Can't Help
There may be times when you can't provide the information requested, whether you don't know the answer, the information is private or another reason. It's important to answer the letter regardless so your company still sounds responsive and caring.
- Unfortunately, I can't answer your question at this time. Our ingredients are an old, carefully guarded family recipe.
- I've searched our archives but have not been able to find answers to your questions. I'm truly sorry I couldn't help.
Thank Them for Writing
Thanking the letter writer for her letter is good business practice because it shows you know her time is valuable.
- Thank you for taking the time to write.
- Thanks for thinking of (company name) in your search for a security system.
Avoid sounding too much like a sales pitch, as in "Thanks for thinking of ABD. Remember, we make you secure at home, at work and at play."
Close By Offering More Help
Always end your response letter with an "our door is always open" feeling. Though you may be relieved to bring your letter to a close, you never want it to sound like a brush off.
- If you need any more information, please contact me personally anytime.
- If you have any questions about the document I enclosed, I'll be glad to answer them.
End simply with "Sincerely," skip four lines for your handwritten signature and then add your printed name and your title. Avoid trendy sign offs like "Best" or "Cheers" or the syrupy "Very truly yours."
Barbara Bean-Mellinger is a freelance writer who lives in the Washington, D.C. area. She has written on business topics for afkinsider.com, smallbusiness.chron.com, Harbor Style Magazine, the Charlotte Sun and more, as well as advertising copy and materials. Barbara holds a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh and has won numerous awards in B2B and B2C marketing.