THE BLOG

An Email to Calm the Christmas Curmudgeon

23/12/2013 15:20 GMT | Updated 19/02/2014 10:59 GMT

Your fingers, like mine, are probably close to bleeding from online shopping. Mine has mainly involved scouring the internet for cheap tat as secret santa presents for people at work I barely know, and like even less.*

Yet in the midst of my Christmas consumer hell, an angel has rescued me with a few small linguistic miracles. Step forward, Firebox (no, I don't know a soul that works there). They've been entertaining me with lines like these:

Hi, Mr. Neil Taylor

Thanks very much for your order. You really are rather nice.

This 'exciting' email is to confirm a few things you probably already know.

And at the end...

We'll drop you another email to let you know once it's out the door.

Help the anticipation build a little. Get the juices flowing.

Until we meet again, stay out of trouble.

In these dark days, they got me smiling. Most brands ignore the nooks and crannies of things like email signatures and Ts and Cs. (Here's Ents24, for example: This order is subject to Ents24 getting authorisation from your card issuer for the funds requested. Merry Christmas, Ents24!)

Of course, you have to get the tone just right. Here's Dave Gorman slagging off brands that get too pally (from about 13.30 in), and clearly it won't be to everyone's taste.

But in one of Malcolm Gladwell's books, he tells how waiters who naturally touch their customers on the shoulder or arm (in a not-too-creepy way) get on average a 20 per cent bigger tip. And I think the Firebox email is the equivalent: a tiny bit warmer, a tiny bit more human, and it makes me like them more. It probably makes me a tiny bit more loyal too (and more likely to tell my blog-reading pals).

All for rewriting a sentence or two.

And if that can rescue me for a second or two from my cloud of Christmas curmudgeonliness until Doctor Who's on, it's just about worth it.

*Alex, I'm only joking. It was a cheap rhetorical flourish.