Back to Basics: Why Communicating Starts with Being Human

Back to Basics: Why Communicating Starts with Being Human
Image Credit: Illustration Works / Corbis / 達志影像

What you need to know

'It is a good sign if companies are planning to do more to connect with customers, but when the basics are weak, everything else is secondary'

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 people’s 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 am 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 9:30 am, it was still closed. There were no opening hours written on the door or website. I called the phone number provided and discovered that the clinic opens from 12 pm to 9 pm. So I returned at 12 pm, 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 12 pm to 9 pm, and that it opens on Saturday and Sunday, too. This is one of the worst experiences I have 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 people’s emotions. They ensure all information and communication is useful and consistent because they value this understanding of and among people.

While some companies strain to close this gap and attract more people, others are too complacent with their existing communication practice and information. They do not 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.

Lots of companies are seeking to create more content and more communications channels to connect with potential customers, but still do not get the basics right. Sure, it is a good sign if companies are planning to do more to connect with customers, but when the basics are weak, 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 that a customer or potential customer first receives. Providing easy-to-follow, up-to-date and correct information shows respect for the customer, and indeed any audience. In return, customers will leave with a positive impression and the start of loyalty.

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, as well as in marketing collateral like brochures and email campaigns or 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.

(For the past 20 years, DDG has been helping ambitious companies unveil their greatness — uncovering insights and opportunities that help businesses and brands evolve and expand globally.)


Edited by Olivia Yang