small business communication Archives - TAB Corporate

Common Communication Barriers and How to Overcome Them

overcoming communication barriers

How well do you communicate with your executive team and with employees in your company? If the honest answer is, “Just OK,” there may be some communications barriers causing a disconnect between your messages and the ways in which others understand them.

The good news is, most communications barriers are fairly easy to identify. And with a little tweaking in your approach, these barriers can be overcome and you can usher in a new era of clear communications throughout your organization.

Here’s a look at some of the most prevalent hurdles and how to deal with them:

Use of jargon or “insider” language. Effective communications start with knowing your audience. You’re an expert in your industry and the use of related jargon or insider language is second-nature for you. But that doesn’t necessarily hold true for the different audiences you address (customers, employees, investors, vendors, etc.). When composing a message, eliminate any jargon or abbreviations that serve as short-hand in informal conversations, but have no place in communications intended for a larger audience.

Too much information. Some business leaders err on the side of excess when it comes to communicating with their various teams. It’s understandable—you want to ensure that people understand the complexities of a business situation and the best way to achieve this goal is by providing a vast amount of information.

Generally speaking, most people can’t absorb a full-scale “information dump.” Effective communicators understand the value in condensing their message, identifying key points and working to make sure people get the idea without feeling overloaded with data. Offer bullet-points and other concise ways to get your message across.

Too many distractions. We’re all guilty of trying to do too many things at once. If the environment in which you seek to communicate is noisy (phones ringing, people talking, etc.), it’s close to impossible to make your points. The same holds true if you take a phone call or are busy texting while someone sits across from you, hoping to share information or to hear what you have to say. Whenever your goal is to communicate, do so in an atmosphere that’s as “distraction-free” as possible.

Overlooking cultural differences. These days, CEOs and business owners, as well as HR and managers, are increasingly alert to the ways in which people differ in terms of culture, race and religion. If your workplace is indeed a multicultural environment, it’s crucial that you carefully inspect the language you use in your communications.

Watch for anything that could be deemed insensitive or inappropriate. Don’t assume everyone will understand a slang term. Avoid generalizations of how people as a group behave or express themselves. There’s great value in having a diverse workplace, as long as everyone is treated respectfully.

Not listening. Communications is more than just a business leader addressing his or her audience. Just as important is cultivating the art of active listening. How often do you find yourself mentally responding to what someone else is saying before they’ve even finished talking? Focus on what others tell you, but also on how they express themselves in terms of nonverbal cues and body language. Your communications efforts will benefit when people feel like you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Finally, don’t be afraid of over-communicating. Never assume that saying something once serves as the end-point in the process. Look for every way possible to impart your key message—through email, newsletter, staff meeting, etc. As long as you communicate clearly and to the point, don’t hesitate to repeat yourself in different venues. This way, it’s far more likely people will absorb your message and respond in ways that enhance business operations and promote growth.

Want to learn more effective communications? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

5 Tips for Improved Customer Communications

customer communication

When it comes to operating a successful business, nothing’s more important than communicating effectively with your customers. Adopting the wrong tone in your marketing or sales messages, neglecting to reach out in formats where customers generally “live” and failing to reply to inquiries in a timely way can damage your brand now and into the future.

Fortunately, there are many ways to connect with your customer base (and to address prospective customers as well). Here are five tips on improving your efforts at customer communications and reaping the benefits of a stronger relationship:

  1. Use language that your customers use. All too often, businesses forget that their customers rarely understand the intricacies of their products or services as well as they do. Their written and verbal communications occasionally lapse into the use of technical terms, acronyms or other industry-specific jargon that “normal people” don’t understand.

For this reason, it’s vital that your customer service representatives speak clearly and avoid using any potentially confusing business terminology. When speaking on the phone, these individuals must be able to answer questions and offer guidance in a language understood by the vast majority of your customers.

  1. Describe your business in 30 seconds or less. We all know about the value of having a good elevator speech. Being able to succinctly describe what you do and how your products/services benefit people is a key element of successful customer communications.

If you haven’t already done so, put together this elevator speech and make it as concise and appealing as possible. The business site Bytestart advises that you try out your elevator speech on people outside the walls of your business, since this can help determine “if you’re speaking in an appealing way to someone outside your company.”

  1. Increase your social media presence. Chances are, you already have a social media presence—but are you doing all you can to leverage that presence with respect to customer communications? One place to start is by creating a Facebook community, where you can continuously post updates and special offers to an established group of fans and followers. You can also invite them to share their thoughts on your business, good or otherwise, as long as you stay on top of the online discussion and respond honestly and in a timely manner.
  2. Focus on what’s important to customers, not what matters to your business. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other sites, keep in mind that the focus is on the customer, not your business. Sure, you can report on news and product updates, etc., but also “get in the habit of sharing content that your target audience would enjoy reading or watching,” says marketing expert Mike Templeman. Such content can range from “funny memes or [a] heart-warming video” to value-added tips on how to address nagging business problems. As long as your content is informative and engaging, you’re communicating with your followers.
  3. Always reply to customers as quickly as possible. One of the most frequently mentioned customer grievances is the slowness with which businesses respond to their questions or complaints. By implementing policies that result in prompt customer replies, you’ll likely have a strong differentiator from competitors. Look for quality automated answering systems that keep “hold time” to an absolute minimum. Or, when possible, reply to inquiries with an after-hours or weekend email, letting customers know their concerns are on your mind. This helps build trust and serves as a foundation for long-term loyalty.

Be on the lookout for opportunities to enhance your own abilities to listen and communicate. Also take measures to ensure your customer-facing employees are doing all they can to represent your business in an attentive, caring fashion.

Want to learn more about quality customer communications? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!