Communication skills

Three business communication mistakes and how to avoid them

- January 7, 2014 3 MIN READ

Great communication is essential for running a small business, but it’s rarely given priority. Correct these common business communication mistakes and your business will be much better off.

Without good business communication you can lose touch with how your customers are feeling, how the wider market is behaving and importantly what your competitors are up to. Here are three areas where communication is often forgotten.

1. Not responding to customer feedback

Feedback comes in many forms, whether a formal written complaint, a comment on social media, a review on a review website, verbal feedback or a testimonial. Businesses who don’t respond to feedback aren’t showing their manners and are losing an opportunity to create better relationships with their customers.

The fix: If your customers are taking the time to mention how they feel, thank them for their opinion, even if it is negative. Responding shows that you value their contribution.

If it’s positive feedback, show your thanks and you’ll probably find more love coming your way in the form of referrals and repeat business. A quick email to say thank you is good; a card/box of chocolates/voucher – even better.

If it’s negative feedback, thank them for expressing their concerns and you could win a fan for life. Most people just want to be heard. Call them and talk to them about the situation, let them know you value their opinion and that you’ll get back to them when you’ve reviewed the situation more closely.

Remember: customers who complain actually still want to work with your business (or perhaps need your business); if they didn’t care they would just move on. 

Want more articles like this? Check out the communication skills section.

2. Not seeking customer feedback

Your service/product is fantastic and your sales are good, but then a competitor with a similar offering comes into the market. They have spent considerable time talking to their potential clients, providing free samples, providing free consultations to get feedback from the market to improve their product. All of a sudden they are leading the way and you are now playing catch-up. There is a simple way to avoid this situation.

The fix: Seek feedback from your clients. Take every interaction with your clients as an opportunity to find out what they think about your product/service. That doesn’t mean you need to conduct a survey every time. Surveys do have their place but consider your market – they may already be over-surveyed!

  • When you are on the phone with a client about another matter end the call by asking if they were happy with a previous service/product provided.
  • Call back a client who had complained previously, tell them what you’ve done to address the issue and ask for their feedback.
  • A quick “How are we doing?” form given to clients at the end of a job may also yield some interesting feedback.

Armed with this information you can make better decisions to help you stay competitive.

3. No internal communication strategy

When businesses grow from being a one- or two-person operation to having multiple employees or contractors many businesses don’t consider that the communication systems and processes they used when they were smaller just won’t work with a larger team.

The fix: Make sure you plan how you’ll keep your extended team informed and involved in what is happening in your business. Whether you have:

  • a 10-minute catch-up each morning in person or via Skype
  • a formal minuted weekly/fortnightly meeting
  • an “on the boss” lunchtime catch-up
  • scheduled email updates
  • a noticeboard.

Make sure it works for your business. If you have a mobile or decentralised team, communication is even more important – spend some time getting it right.

Keeping your clients and extended team involved in your business will help you to build a more engaged team who’ll help you keep ahead of the pack.

Do you seek and respond to customer feedback? How has it helped you stay competitive?

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"