These 5 Errors in Business Communications Could Be Your Downfall

by Jeannie Walters

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Customer experience is a lot of things. It’s partially scientific and sometimes artistic, but communication is one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle.


Without effective business communications, there can be no action. I find that one of the biggest challenges within any customer experience initiative is not just customer communication, but internal communication, as well. And there is way too much bad communication out there. Not just kinda bad, but really, really bad!

I see some of the same mistakes in communication over and over again.

Here are a few of the most common:

1. Communicating for communication’s sake.

Why say something if you don’t know why you’re saying it? Would you like someone to take an action? Do you want the reader to support a change? Be clear in what you want. Stating what the reader should do with the information is essential in influencing their behavior. This is especially prevalent in communications within an organization. If “Manager A”  has been asked to lead a project and knows it’s important, why not tell everyone about it!? Before you open your mouth, ask yourself: WHY? What is the goal behind this?


2. Choosing the wrong people to communicate.

Social media is filled with this, and the above conversation from the Nestle Facebook page is a classic example. Don’t let the 22-year old in the office with no communication experience or strategy represent your company and interact with your customers on social channels. ‘Nuff said.


3. Overlooking certain types of communications as unimportant.

Dear developers, we really do love you. You are a vital part of the online experience and we couldn’t do it without you. But, please, when crafting user-facing error messages, ask someone who is not familiar with your technical jargon for help. Customers don’t know what ‘Error Code XPS-41′ means. I promise.


4. Hiring communicators based on knowledge instead of who they actually are.

Communication means making big and small judgment calls. How many customer service reps are hired based on technical knowledge but get snippy when a customer isn’t as tech-savvy as they are? How many front-line associates are even evaluated for communication skills? Not enough, in my humble opinion.

5. Communicating too much or not enough.

When EVERYTHING is super important, nothing really sinks in. When you don’t communicate honestly about the topic everyone is going to discuss anyway, whether it’s potential downsizing internally or a falling stock price externally, humans will fill in the blanks and typically, we assume the worst.

Communication is a balancing act and one that requires thoughtful attention. Too often, it’s seen as an afterthought and left to whoever happens be the best at stringing sentences together. Take care in knowing how much of an impact it actually has on the total experience you create for you customers.

Poor business communications are everywhere! What would you add to this list?

Photo credit: Alan Turkus via Creative Commons license

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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