Request - how to write it

Official request - How you will achieve the 90% responce quote

A few tips from my own experience on how to write a request in Germany to get a proper answer

In your email you should pay particular attention to the following:

Write the subject
Write to your recipient by name
Introduce yourself. Describe your situation
Ask “open questions”


One of the most important things that you should be aware of from the beginning is that a contact person receives and responds a lot of emails every day. Make his work easier. He/ she will notice and appreciate it.


Write the subject

Write the subject. If you give a reference number or customer number, add it to the subject.

Just the fact that you have formulated the subject more or less clearly makes a good impression from the very beginning.

As long as it is about the same topic, use the function "Reply".

As soon as it is about another question, change the subject. And again the same: as long as it is about that new topic, use the function "Reply".

This results in accurate "email chains", each chain dedicated to a specific topic.


Speak to your recipient by name

The classic but rather impersonal greeting "Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, ..." is completely outdated in the times of copypaste and bulk-emails.

Use this impersonal salutation only if you couldn't find a name of your contact person.

Instead write a name ("Dear Mrs. Merkel, ...") and you make a positive impression from the very beginning.

Suppose the name of the contact person is Bärbel Meier. Is Bärbel a man or a woman? Do I have to write "Herr Meier" or "Frau Meier"?

Tip: Ask Google Images about "Bärbel" and it immediately becomes clear whether Bärbel is a man or woman. Then you also know whether "Dear Mr. Meier" or "Dear Mrs. Meier" is the right word.

If the name of the relevant recepient is not easy to find, set the name of the department head. If you cannot find the name of the department head, set the name of the director. His secretary will forward your request to the responsible person. You will find the director's name in Ipressum.

Note: Every website in Germany must have a so-called imprint (§ 5 TMG as well as § 55 RStV). There you will find contact information (email, phone number) as well as the name of the responsible person. Very often it is the managing director.
To find out this information you only need to enter the name of the organisation and the word "Impressum" into Google. The rest is a simple matter.

Write to your recepient by name. Use anyone's name. It is by far better then "To whom it may concern, ...".

Sehr geehrter Herr Plotnikov,

das Schreiben zum aktuellen Versicherungsverlauf wird Herrn Maksimov per Post zugeschickt.

Bitte nutzen Sie immer die Mailadresse kundenservice@drv-berlin-brandenburg.de und schreiben nicht an einzelne Mitarbeiter. Sie verkürzen hierdurch die Bearbeitung.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Ihre
Deutsche Rentenversicherung Berlin-Brandenburg


Introduce yourself. Describe your situation

In Germany it is good manners to introduce yourself. Even when one picks up the phone, one introduces oneself. Both in incoming and outgoing calls.

The same applies to email. Your full name is certainly to be found at the end of your mail, but you better can with introduction like " ... My name is XYZ. I have a Bachelor degree from XYZ University in Computer Science (or in whatever). I would like to ..."

Your introduction doesn't need to be long. A couple of sentences were quite enough. Just give the first picture of you: what you are and what your request is about.

Tip: Create your email address as they do it in Germany: "firstname.lastame@..."
Some hints are here: Get a solid email address - a "German way"

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Ask “open questions”

After the short introduction of you and your situation, come directly to your main questions. Ask 3 to 5 questions. Several questions at once show the recipient that you have already given some thought to the matter.

However, if you ask too many (complex) questions at once, it may take a little longer for the person to find time to answer your email.

Ask so called "open questions". These are the questions that cannot be answered with yes/no.

Examples:
- Closed questions (not recommended): Is the IELTS language certificate accepted at your university? Can I start studying at your university with a TOEFL score of 226?
- Open question (recommended): What is the minimum TOEFL score at your university with which to start studying? Which other language certificates are accepted in your university?


Do your Homework

It is considered impolite to ask questions that can be answered with Google's help within a few minutes.

Before you ask your question, let the recipient know that you have done your homework. In other words, you have already tried to find the answer to that question.

Examples:
"On your website I unfortunately I couldn't find any clarifying information about X, Y, Z... "
"My research on the Internet has only brought irrelevant results."


Conclusion

Always keep an eye on the little things that save the caseworker time. Time is money. Don't expect them to take a lot of time for you. Assume that your contact person is very busy and has to deal with hundreds of requests.

Always think about making the recipient's work easier. Most German employees are smart enough to notice when you have made an effort to make their work easier. And most of them will appreciate your efforts.


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Might be also useful: Official request in Germany - Call vs. Mail



Official request in Germany - Call vs. Mail

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04.08.20 ©️ Jaroslav Plotnikov ( All articles )
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