Today, we are talking about communication. This is one of the most misused and misinterpreted notions both in our professional lives and our personal lives. How many times has your partner, a brand, or your leadership told you that you were communicated TO, but you never got the message? You never really understood what or how they were attempting to communicate. It happens far too often.
Why? And how can we understand communication in a way that enables us to fix this problem?
Communication is Empathy
I know you probably feel like every article we write talks about empathy. You aren’t wrong. Empathy is the root of hospitality. Without empathy you cannot connect to your clients or customers.
Let’s put this concept to practice. In the BtoB, world this could mean that you are far too technical in your communications. You assume your audience (your customers) have the same deep technical know-how that you have. Guess what? 9 out of 10 times they do not. If they did, they would not be a good prospect for you.
You want your potential clients to know less than you on your topic in order to recognize you as an expert. What you do not want is for your prospects not to connect with you enough to understand what you are selling.
In the BtoC space, this often happens when we send out day-of-travel communications. Too often, our messages are perceived as confusing or incomplete. Brands struggle to give instructions in engaging, useful ways. Unfortunately, this reads as a lack of empathy, even if your brand is trying to make an earnest effort to be helpful.
In cases like this, consider infographics. Granted, they are more time consuming to produce. However, a picture speaks thousand words. Take that extra time to make sure you really connect with your traveler. Guide your traveler as a good concierge should, so they feel your support and care in their moment of confusion.
In both scenarios, the BtoB and the BtoC, communicating empathy clearly requires you to get someone else to look at your communications and provide expert, unbiased feedback. This is key. Do not communicate with yourself. Communicate with others.
Communication is Design
Some people feel overwhelmed and do not know where to begin with customer communication. In those cases, start small.
Put yourself in the shoes of your customer for a minute. What would you want from the interaction you are designing? Now, keep that at the focus of your design.
Let’s take a website as a digital communication tool. A website is often a source of useful information for your visitor. Consider this touchpoint with that concept in mind. For BtoB, a website is the communication tool that says to the potential client “this brand is an expert at the field; it is reliable, and has a depth of previous experience and proven results.”
If your website feels like a maze, and your visitor has no clue what you are selling 30 seconds after he/she has landed on it, you have not only communicated poorly, you have not communicated at all! In web design, less is more. Avoid communicating all that you have and re-purposing existing communication materials wholesale from other mediums. Give web design the proper time, attention, resources, and INTENT.
Effective Communication Matches the Customer Journey
Back in the day, JetBlue had a great “Deals” page that I was responsible for. Our customers could not find this page for the life of them! We had not created the proper path to it so people were not using it.
The danger in this, especially in bigger organizations, is that someone looking at the web analytics might suggest that a page like this is taken down altogether. That would have been the wrong business decision. Instead, we opened a project to perfect the algorithm of the deals generator and put the page on the “landing page” of JetBlue. In other words, the moment you reach www.jetblue.com you can see a link to Deals. The Explore menu is next to Book on the main page. There is literally no more prominent place on a travel website than the button next to book!
So, take the time and effort to really think about the digital journey of your customers and arrange your information strategically on their path. This makes the communication feel easy, seamless, relevant, and intuitive.
Communication is one of the most powerful customer experience tools. When your customer or client interacts with your brand he/she has different needs and existing knowledge at each touchpoint. Communication feels like interaction when you design the content of your communication with all this in mind. Every step of the way. Regardless if that means putting the right wayfinding sign at an airport, or the right link on a webpage.