It’s amazing how a refreshing break from work and business can truly recharge the batteries. Even some of the more tedious tasks, which at the end of a busy year almost put you to sleep, suddenly seem slightly more interesting. Medical research clearly supports the benefits a good holiday have on your health and wellbeing.
And so it is the same with your business. Perhaps it needs recharging – a fresh perspective? Does the way you communicate with your potential clients need a review?
Are you talking to your potential clients in a language that they understand? Working every day in your business can tend to bog you down in the ‘day to day must do’ and result in you forgetting about the face of the business – that critical first impression.
Just as it is important for us to be recharged and gain a fresh perspective – the way you are talking to your clients may also need a boost.
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Communication, in its many forms is a powerful tool, if used wisely. Bad communication, quite simply, equals bad customer service – which does not bode well for any business.
And, according to a recent BDO Service 2020 report, “30 per cent of Australian businesses will need to increase their customer service standards if they want to succeed in the coming decade.” A sobering thought.
So, where do you start in evaluating if you and your staff are serving your customers well?
Unless you are a large corporation, and even those companies need to consider this; you or your staff must answer the telephone personally, not with a recording that gives your valuable customers the option to press 1, 2 or 3 or to “please tell me in your own words what you are calling about today” only to be told, “sorry, I don’t understand you”. That reminds me of the ‘Sick of talking to a machine’ AAMI Insurance advertisement featuring ‘Moira’ whom the machine interpreted as being named ‘Moron’.
Social networking, in whatever sphere, needs a strategy which must be backed up by regular interaction and implemented with careful, considered and consumer-focused communication. Adopt a relaxed, informal approach but avoid being overly personal; remember it is your clients you are speaking to, not your best friend. As with all other business communication it needs to be free of spelling and grammatical errors – yes, even on Facebook!
An example of social media gone wrong was Qantas’ Twitter disaster last November. Clearly they forgot the golden rule of ‘client-focused’ when they attempted a ‘luxury’ promotion attempt just weeks after it had left thousands of travellers stranded.
Your website content should answer some (but not all) of your potential customers’ questions. It must:
- provide various alternative methods to contact you – email, phone, address – and make it obvious; don’t hide these contact options in some obscure place, a common and puzzling phenomenon that only serves to annoy web users
- be free of grammatical and spelling errors
- be well maintained with fresh content; nothing speaks louder than a website with old dates, information that is no longer relevant or links that don’t work
- avoid ‘industry speak’, which can creep into your business. Asking someone external to your business to write for you can eliminate this; a good writer will quickly identify industry speak and find better ways to say what needs to be said, in everyday language.
All of your written communication must be clear, concise, free of errors and most importantly respond to the customer request or query in a professional and helpful manner. It is important to always:
- double-check, before you send, for grammatical and spelling errors
- check the ‘tone’ is positive even if you feel the customer request may be frustrating or petty
- respond in a respectful manner.
Good customer service is all about clear, concise and customer-focused communication.
How well is your business communicating?
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Your time is precious. Why fill it up with cumbersome chores that you could outsource? We have highlighted five important reasons why writing your own website content, advertising copy, important letters, press releases – pretty much anything with words… can be problematic for many reasons.
Avoiding industry speak
Within your business or industry you can very quickly become immune to industry speak. It becomes your everyday language, but to your potential clients is can seem like another language. Asking someone external to your business to write for you can eliminate this; a good writer will quickly identify industry speak and find better ways to say what needs to be said, in everyday language.
This is our thing
You may be a fantastic accountant, business coach, real estate agent, lawyer or hairdresser, but are you comfortable with writing? I certainly wouldn’t attempt to prepare my own tax, cut my own hair or represent myself in court; just as you may need someone to help with your communication – it allows you to get on with what you’re best at.
Content is king
You may have heard this phrase bandied around, but what does it really mean? It has never been more necessary than in today’s fast moving environment to ensure your online content is well written and effective, but also updated regularly to keep Google happy.
Polished communication is invaluable
Even though communication may not be your core business, and you may be thinking what does grammar have to do with your industry; errors and bad grammar can be really embarrassing… and make you look second-rate. I’ve heard of someone who was referring to the ‘Shifts’ that had taken place in the marketplace. Problem is, he left the ‘f’ out of ‘Shifts’ and posted it online. Woops.
Diligence and consistency
Sounds boring, and sometimes it is. Not everyone has the patience or the time to ensure consistent written communication, but the benefits are enormous. It could be as simple as creating a style guide and then referring to this for all your communication. This diligence pays off when you can use your “everyday” information in tenders and proposals because you have confidence in it. This approach will also save you and your staff time if there is a style guide to refer to allowing you to create a professional, consistent look.
Even if you feel comfortable writing, do you really have time for this? Would a fresh approach to your content help? Or even if you have already written something, maybe a ‘fresh set of eyes’ to proofread or edit will make all the difference.
What tasks within your business do you find really irritating, difficult and time-consuming? Can we help you?
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If you’d like to find out about when and when not to use the dreaded apostrophe you’ve come to the right place.
In this blog, we’ll cover those that seem, in my experience, to cause the most angst.
It’s vs Its
When to use it’s – with an apostrophe
It’s is only ever used when you want to say “it has” or “it is”. So, when writing it’s, you need to be able to say “it is” or “it has” where you have placed the apostrophe. If you can’t, then remove the apostrophe.
Some examples for the correct use of it’s
It’s time for lunch. (It is time for lunch)
It’s my birthday. (It is my birthday)
It’s been very difficult. (It has been very difficult)
When to use its – with no apostrophe
The correct use of its is in a possessive sense, indicating that something belongs to the subject of the sentence.
Some examples of when to use its
The jury has reached its decision. (meaning the decision, belonging to the jury, has been made)
The dog has lost its collar. (meaning the collar, belonging to the dog, has been lost)
And as for its’ – it’s never correct! Don’t use it.
Now, to explain you’re and your.
Contractions, such as you’re, always use an apostrophe to replace the omitted letters, so basically whenever you use an apostrophe in you’re it means “you are”.
Your is written like this when you want to say the word without saying “are”.
The following sentences are examples of saying the same thing but with the differing use of your and you’re.
It has taken a long time, but your English is improving. (do not want to add “are”, hence your is correct)
It has taken a long time, but you’re grasping the English language well now. (it makes sense to say “you are”)
And, if you placed the opposite you’re or your in the above sentences, they would not make sense or be grammatically correct.
Please let me know if you’ve found this helpful, or if there are other words you struggle to conquer, either with apostrophe use or just generally.
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Your business communication is important. It sends a message to your clients and potential clients about your business. They will make a judgement about your business based around what they read.
Why should you care?
- You and your business will look so much more professional – it gives your clients and prospective clients confidence that you are a good operator.
- When you want to apply for a grant or submit a tender or proposal, you can utilise the consistent, professional text you have created in these important submissions.
- You and your staff will save time by knowing how things are done if you adopt a consistent approach.
How to do this?
- Create a style guide.
- Refer to this style guide when creating new publications, updating existing publications, sending out letters, creating copy for ads or adding content to your website.
- Be diligent about your written communication – it really does send a positive message to your
But you don’t have the time, the inclination or the skills to do this?
- Contact us! We strive to provide our clients with the very best outcome by working with you to
determine your needs and priorities to create a cost-effective and professional solution.
Keeping your website maintained is vital to your survival in today’s online world.
If you are not already blogging; writing an interesting, relevant, keyword rich article and adding or linking to your website can work wonders.
Is your website out of date?
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Nothing speaks louder than a website with old dates, information that is no longer relevant or links that don’t work.