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There’s a massive disconnect in British business

UK businesses think they’re great communicators - but that’s because they’re bad listeners argues Nick Booth

Corporate language is the most sinister aspect of modern life, as it so closely resembles the dystopian double-speak of George Orwell’s 1984. Everything is the opposite of what it appears to be.

Nobody who uses the phrase ‘engaging content’ can write anything that keeps your eyeball on the page. As a copy writer, I never trust a marketing director who wants something that’s ‘totally unique’. What they really want is an identical set of cliches to those produced by rival marketing campaigns. In truth, nobody wants to stand out from the crowd because it’s terrifying.

Enterprises are usually the complete opposite of enterprising. All the personality types that love corporate culture only pretend to like individuality. If Einstein turned up at their office for a job interview, he wouldn’t get past reception.

Twilio seems to be one of the few exceptions to this rule. Why that is I don’t know. Maybe it’s because it makes systems designed to help developers fix  communications breakdowns. Anyway, for once someone in the IT industry has come up with some plausible sounding research.

According to Twilio, there is a massive perception gap between businesses and their customers. Businesses are all convinced they are brilliant at communication, according to the research. Only 34% of them in the UK think there is any room for improvement in how they communicate.

By contrast, 80% of consumers say they are frustrated by the companies they have to deal with. Seven in ten of those questioned say this makes all the difference between repeat orders and looking for an alternative. One third said they had gone elsewhere after a bad experience.

There are hundreds of companies out there with disastrously disjointed comms channels. It’s pot luck whether you get through or not. There’s tons of work to be done by comms resellers and developing, knitting all these strands into one cohesive omni channel, says Doug Barnes, Head of EMEA Business at Twilio.

Meanwhile consumer expectations are shifting upward, says Barnes. They are being influenced by all those extravagant, over reaching marketing claims, no doubt. But, he warns, “The experiences that businesses deliver are not keeping pace.”

They need to personalise interactions with customers, improve responsiveness and find the right channels to maximise the customer experience. Meanwhile, there is a massive reality gap to bridge. Almost all (94%) businesses claim their customers are satisfied with the responsiveness of their communications, yet 96% of consumers disagree.

Call yourselves customer centric? My AAS you are!

This was last published in September 2017

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