5 Language Lessons all Businesses can Learn from Optus


Just this morning I read this letter from Optus.

And you must be wondering why on earth an accountant is writing about a letter from Optus.  So here’s some context for you.  I have really learned to appreciate the people who, for lack of a better word, “have a way with words”.

It’s the little things (or the “Power of Small”, as Paul Dunn puts it) that really bring out a brand and a point of difference in the marketplace.

The language that we use as businesses: written, verbal, internal and external define who we are in a way most people I believe understate.

Why Optus sent me a Letter

The letter is not normally something I would read, give attention to, or bother to take much notice at all of.  But something about the letter was different.  No, a lot of the letter was quite different, and something I am sure not many people expect from their ‘Telco’.

The purpose of the letter is to update me on a change in the terms and conditions of the contract with Optus.  A rather boring and annoying letter in the past.  Great for the shredder.

Before you read the letter too, keep in mind that the account is a business account.  So normally this would assume a more formal approach in any case.

I was quite surprised.

Here’s the letter (and do click the picture for a full sized image too).

optus letter accountants brisbane

And my 5 takeaways from the letter are:

1. The ‘stating-the-obvious’ icebreaker

I feel that this is a great way to break the ice of a somewhat annoyingly necessary letter.

And everyone feels better if the person writing points out the elephant in the room.

Even the font choice and colour of the text make it welcoming and a warm sentence to read.

2. Size of the letter far from intimidating

Short sentences.  Small paragraphs.  Tiny letter over all, right?

You know you’re not going to be reading boring jargon for hours.

The best bit is, like the icebreaker above, they’ve realised most people won’t read it and have accounted for it.  They’ve also listed when you might need to refer back to it.

3. Asking “How are you going?”

Do you really expect this from a Telco?  Does anyone think they care?

Apple is a great example of how customer service should be done.  But a Telco is the last place you would expect some personality or care.

“How are you going?” or “Really, how are you going?” is a sensational way of breaking the mould.

4. Casual slang throughout the letter

Now the “word nerds” out there might have their nose out of joint with this one.

And I can understand that this is very much the preference of the business writing the letter or using the language.

I am a fan of organised disorder though, and love the incorporation of this in the letter.  If Optus can get away with it elegantly, why can’t you?

(Oh, and do see Nassim Taleb’s book, Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder too, a great read.)

5. Random speech bubble with random text

“Pretty Handy”?

I still cannot work out what the purpose of this is, but it doesn’t bother me.

Maybe it fits in with the branding?


Well done Optus.

You made my day in a way that I would never expect.


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