Back to basics: Why communicating starts with being human
- Yee Yan Leong
- Communications Director
A company that practices good communication is one that respects people, and its audiences (employees and customers). Good communication, on all levels, ensures understanding and engagement in core human activities. It eliminates the confusion and doubt that not only waste time but also negatively affect peoples' feelings.
Have you ever experienced an emergency situation where you needed an important piece of information, but that information was not available, and you had to wade through unhelpful or downright confusing content just to establish the facts?
I'm not talking about high-level messages or marketing taglines, but the most basic information that companies should provide to inform customers about their services and operations. When this basic information is incorrect or missing, having a catchy slogan or memorable tagline is pointless.
Let me share an experience to further clarify what I mean:
I visited an eye clinic for the first time. When I arrived at 9:30am, it was still closed. There were no opening hours written on the door—or the website. I called the phone number provided and discovered that the clinic opens from 12pm to 9pm. So, I returned at 12pm, and to my dismay, the clinic consultation hours were over. The receptionist offhandedly gave me a business card, asked me to come again next time, and reminded me not to come on Saturday and Sunday, before shoving me out the door.
I was left holding the business card. Confused. Frustrated. Because, the card clearly stated the clinic’s opening hours were from 12pm to 9pm, and that it's open on Saturdays and Sundays, too. This was one of the worst experiences I have ever encountered because I had not only wasted my time traveling, but I didn’t achieve what I set out to do in the first place. Instead, I was offered confusion and a cold shoulder. I swore that I would never return, and have kept that promise.
This sounds like a complaint, but every business should take note. Companies can easily lose clients due to these kinds of basic mistakes, which have nothing to do with the quality of their core service.
I believe companies that practice good communication are companies that respect people. They understand that bad communication wastes time and energy, and that all the related hassles have a genuinely negative effect on peoples' emotions. They place value on ensuring people can easily understand and access the information they need, by ensuring all communications are both useful and also consistent.
While some companies strain to close this gap and attract more people, others are too complacent with their existing communication practice and information. They don’t check if their information is sufficient, up-to-date, or even correct. They assume they have it all covered, or that people will instinctively understand. They take things for granted.
In an effort to connect with potential customers, many companies are seeking to create more content and open more communications channels—but still don’t get the basics right. Of course, it is important to make plans to connect with more customers. But without basic communications skills, everything else is secondary.
Companies that want to improve the way they are perceived, must pay close attention to how they arrange and present information to potential customers. Providing easy-to-follow, up-to-date and correct information shows respect for the customer, and, indeed, for anyone. In return, customers will leave with a positive impression—that's how the seeds of loyalty start to take root.
So if you are a business owner thinking of redesigning a website, investing in advertising, or opening a Facebook account, why not go back and take a good look at the information that is already out there? Review all the basic information conveyed—on the website and in marketing collateral like brochures, email campaigns and newsletters. Check that it is clear, useful, and consistent. Only once these basic elements are in place, should time and resources be allocated to more ambitious communications or marketing.