Getting it right – top tips for communicating

By Angela Bensemann, Director Halo Communications

Everyone thinks they’re good at communicating and that’s probably because we all communicate all day, every day, right?

So how come so many companies get it so wrong? That’s because, even though we communicate all the time, it doesn’t mean we are automatically good at it.  In fact, many individuals and companies are just terrible at it – you’ll know some of these for sure.

These are my top tips for communicating well:

  1. Taking the time to listen.  Extrapolate that out to a company or organisation and it’s about being in touch with your staff, clients, customers and stakeholders.  Really understanding what it is that they want or need.  What their issues are, and how you can help with that.  To get this level of understanding you need to spend time with these people.
    If you’re a major multinational you obviously can’t spend time with every single customer but what you can do is figure out your customer segments – e.g. stay at home mums under the age of 35, or retirees interested in life insurance – and do some research into these groups.  That might mean setting up focus groups, running a survey, doing some research and getting out and talking to groups that these people might attend (like Plunket or Probus).
  2. Getting the right tone. Once you know what the real issues are you can communicate in a meaningful way.  You can use appropriate language – i.e. something people understand the first time they read it without having to pull out a dictionary and call in a translator.
    Top tip in this space is to deal with any issues that arise straight away – that way they’re dealt with and everyone can move on.  Sit on an issue at your peril. That small thing that could be dealt with by a phone call or letter can turn into a major front-page story if not dealt with straight away.
  3. Taking note. Record what the issues are and do something about them – depending on your business that could be vital information to feed into product development to fine tune your widget.  It might be some less than flattering feedback that could help you improve your customer service and could ultimately lead to better relationships. Or it might just be something that helps you understand your audience better.
  4. Using the right vehicle. Knowing your audience also means you can communicate through channels that your audience likes.  That might mean a foray into social media, it could mean electronic newsletters, and depending on your audience, it might even mean old fashioned phone calls and actual face-to-face meetings!
  5. Acting like a human. Hopefully you don’t need to act but if being empathetic and interested in others doesn’t come naturally you will need to practice or delegate to someone who is really good in this space.  No-one wants to deal with a robot and this should help with your communications style. Ask yourself: “If I was talking to my grandmother would she understand what I’m talking about and feel like she wanted to deal with me and my company again?”

The most effective communications take time and effort – throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars at an advertising campaign is easy – actually getting out and talking to people and really understanding their issues takes time but is super effective.