When you work in sales or operations, it’s critical to think of ways to create a rapport with your customers. Even seemingly simple touches – such as using a client’s native language in certain communications – can go a long way. Trust us, your customers will appreciate and reward your effort with loyalty, word-of-mouth referrals and, most importantly, sales.
Later, as your business grows, you can enlist the help of translation services in localizing your content. For now, a few small touches are all you need to do. With that in mind, here are some basic terms for communicating with your German customers.
1. The Formal:
Sehr geehrte Damen means Dear Madam, while Sehr geehrte Herren means Dear Sir. If you’re unsure whether your recipient is male or female, use Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren. It means Dear Sir or Madam. Reserve these formal salutations for situations in which you do not know the name of the person you’re writing to.
2. Somewhat Formal:
When you know the name of the person with whom you’re corresponding, you have a few more options at your disposal. For example, Sehr geehrte Frau Koch means Dear Ms. Koch, while Sehr geehrter Herr Braun means Dear Mr. Braun. For a more informal approach, write Liebe Frau Koch to mean Dear Ms. Koch. For men, write Lieber Herr Braun for Dear Mr. Braun. Include job titles where applicable; use Frau Präsidentin for Ms. President and Herr Professor Braun for Professor Braun.
A few tips to remember:
- If you use a person’s title, you probably won’t mention his or her name. For example, you’d write Sehr geehrte Frau Präsidentin. (One exception is when you’re writing to a professor; do include the professor’s name.)
- The gender designation of Herr or Frau comes first, prior to other titles. If you’re writing to a male and female couple, put the wife’s name on the first line. The husband’s name goes on the second line.
When you decide to go casual or breezy, one good opening is Guten Tag, Frau Koch, which means Good Day, Ms. Koch. Another good salutation is Hallo Peter, which means Hi Peter.
Whatever approach you use in your salutation, keep your genders straight. Women should receive an “-e” ending on the adjective modifying their name, while men get an “-er” ending. Using these native expressions will help your German customers feel more connected to you. When you’re ready to take your international customer service to a new level, check out Unbabel translation services.
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