5 rules of thumb for effective staff and customer communication

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Communication is key to the success of any business, large or small, whether that be internal communication or communication with customers through marketing materials. It tells staff and customers a great deal about the business and its values. These 5 rules of thumb for effective staff and customer communication will point you in the right direction…

Business communication goes beyond the words said or printed, and can positively impact the efficiency of business operations if it is clear and concise. Even the best communication relies upon everyone receiving the message, and receiving it correctly as the sender intended. Start by making sure there is a robust communication strategy in place and a commitment to reviewing it regularly.


Listening is important, but beyond that, it is critical to hear. All too often, business owners are so focused on the message they are sending out that they forget to listen to any messages coming back. Communication is a two-way process after all, and without the message being received as expected, and responded to, it remains merely a transmission. Whether it’s an internal presentation or a customer service call, business communication relies upon feedback.

Tools for the job

The right tools for effective business communication will depend upon the nature of your business, and making the right choices will directly impact the success your communications. There may well be a period of trial and error while you find the right combination of email, conference calls, print and more. Be prepared to keep an open mind.

Communication can also include information that people seek out themselves, whether customers, employees or other stakeholders in the business. Think about the sort of information they would like to see and make sure it is easily accessible, whether that is about delivery information, or rules about holiday allowances. Again, check that it is kept up to date and relevant.

Rules to communicate by

  1. Don’t court controversy. It rarely works well because you will always alienate a group of people straight away.
  2. Keep it simple. There will be times when you need to communicate complex messages and when they arise, think carefully about the mechanism you use; something complicated should not be communicated via email or text. If at all possible, choose in person – in the form of a group briefing, video conference, or phone call if your audience is small enough. Using a text-based option opens up too many opportunities for misunderstanding.
  3. Avoid jargon. Especially when the message is complicated, it makes sense to use straightforward language. Avoid potential barriers to having your message understood by cutting out the jargon.
  4. Visualise. Wherever you can, use images, although make sure that they are relevant to your message and support it rather than distracting.
  5. Keep it professional. Business communication should maintain professionalism, even when the brand is informal. Be respectful at all times.

There is no guarantee that having the right communication in place will make the business successful, but you can be pretty sure that if you don’t get your communication right, it will fail to achieve its objectives.