Businesses communicate in hundreds of ways every day and most of the time these exchanges occur without much thought or attention.
It pays to take some time out to consider and even list the many ways your organisation communicates with your staff (your internal audience), your customers and the external world - telephone calls, emails, on hold messages, social media, face-to-face conversations and dealings, written communications, signage, advertising, brochures and websites, just to name a few.
It is important to consider how each of these communications are delivered, from the tone of the person’s voice who answers your telephone calls through to the signage that exists in your foyer. So many times we enter a business premises and are greeted with curt messages on signage before we speak to a human being – Visitors Must Report to the Office; No Parking Permitted. It is vital to consider the tone of your messaging even in these simple terms.
A communications plan is important in helping businesses and organisations (no matter their size or industry) track the ways in which they exchange information with their customers – and most importantly, the tone that is being set.
A friend recently commented on her experience with getting new carpet for her house. She visited two retailers, however lost the business card for one of them. A few weeks later she called the retailer (the one whose business card she had) and went through the process of getting her house measured and quoted. Her exchange with the retailer was cold. As their quote was higher than she anticipated, she decided to visit the other supplier again and went about the same process. This person was warm, friendly and engaging. Guess who got the business?
Your business brand is your reputation. Your reputation is built on your customers’ experiences and exchanges with you and the perceptions that are held about you in the wider community. It is essential that the tone of ALL messages and communications match your brand. By ensuring both are in alignment, your brand awareness and business will grow – without a doubt. People prefer to do business with people they like, trust and perceive favourably. It is as simple as this.
The tone that each of your communications carries must be considered in terms of how it makes the customer feel. Will they leave you feeling cold or engaged? Will they leave you feeling as though your business is professional and on the ball, or will they leave scratching their heads without much confidence? The tone of your communications must also be relevant to your market.
A happy workplace results in happy communications. An unhappy workplace will translate to negative and unhelpful communications with your customers and in fact to anyone who will listen – resulting in another whole bucket of issues that we can’t cover in this article. Your business communication tone works from the inside out. Pay attention to the details – the way the phone is answered, the consistency and language of your emails and the way your physical premises is presented.
Your communication style and tone is intrinsically linked to brand management. It’s helpful to gather together every piece of physical communication collateral you have (brochures, business cards, invoices, letterheads, signage, and advertisements) and compare them. Is your brand represented consistently? If there a consistent font and colour palette? Then look at your online resources – your email footers, your social media channels and your website. Every single thing that is disseminated from your organisation should look the same, without exception.
Communication management is about controlling the message – it’s about ensuring every word that is disseminated from your business is on target, is relevant to your brand and sets the tone that reflects your business in the best possible way.