In a previous article, I outlined why businesses must reduce the cost of ineffective communication. Ineffective communication causes companies to reach objectives more slowly and with more effort from employees and customers. Effective communication is about having the right interaction in the right moment, delivered in a way that generates a positive experience and outcome.
Consistency is a key — and undervalued — driver of effective communication. Consistent messages, tone, and language in customer, employee, and vendor interactions play a critical role in achieving business goals.
For example, consistent brand experiences — i.e., unchanging values, image, and messaging across channels—can impact revenue growth by as much as 33%, according to one report. When individuals, teams, and departments communicate in conflicting ways, it causes frustration and confusion that negatively impacts brand reputation and deteriorates customer experience.
Consistent communication matters. Consider that, even when communications seem to be effective in the moment, inconsistency drives higher costs and setbacks. (Here is an article I wrote years ago after observing the impact of operational inconsistencies with customers on overwhelming brand experience investments. The problem persists.)
The Challenge — and the Opportunity — is Growing
Fast forward to 2021. As the workforce becomes more distributed and diverse, teams are collaborating across more locations, functions, and channels than ever before.
With increasing globalization, one recent study found most U.S. companies struggle with language barriers that can impede collaboration. Another reported more than half of companies now rely on outsourcing to meet rising customer needs. These shifts can make it challenging to keep teams aligned on brand preferences and present a united front.
I recently had the opportunity to convene a roundtable at Frost & Sullivan’s Executive MindXchange: Customer Contact Virtual. At the event, we shared our own efforts to ensure consistent interactions in a remote work environment. This resonated with attendees, who noted that approaches like manual guidelines, hotkeys for customer-facing employees, and knowledge management systems were inefficient to manage and fell short on keeping teams on-brand.
Moreover, the reliance on written communication across customers, employees, and third-party vendors and agencies is increasing. Especially amid Zoom and call fatigue, email is the primary and preferred communication method at work. Leaders at the Customer Contact Virtual event echoed this sentiment, highlighting the need to offset the challenges of distanced communication with easier, more consistent interaction over written mediums like Slack and email.
These evolving workforce and customer challenges add up to disjointed interactions that affect business outcomes. Even before the pandemic, we knew that poor written communication was costing American businesses the equivalent of 6% of total U.S. wages annually — an indicator of the value organizations can capture by addressing the issue.
Leaders must build organizations that communicate consistently and effectively on-brand to deliver results faster. So, where can they begin?
A Business Case for Scaling Consistent Brand Communication
Most leaders will agree that inconsistent communication is costly and effective communication is valuable. However, many have not fully grasped the scale of the problem, and traditional approaches — such as increasing training — fall short. Leaders pursue these investments due to a belief in their importance, but they ultimately do not deliver the day-to-day improvements needed to meet rising demands.
Technology, however, is advancing faster than most leaders recognize. For example, AI-powered tools that help manage and automate communication processes can remove bottlenecks and enable consistent, on-brand communications across touchpoints. Improving written communication with these tools has been shown to drive double-digit improvements in customer satisfaction and efficiency.
Let’s consider a real-world example. One popular web hosting platform that doubled down on clear, consistent customer communication boosted productivity and increased its CSAT by 30%. The company had been struggling with confusing, off-brand interactions that impacted overall efficiency, and needed to create a more effective, positive experience for both customers and employees.
By deploying AI-powered writing assistant technology to polish communications, the company achieved its highest-ever levels of customer satisfaction through more consistent responses. The offering integrated seamlessly within existing workflows, and it didn’t take long to generate results—within a month, the team saw improvements in customer feedback scores.
Internally, the technology also up-leveled the entire team’s communication skills at scale without investing in dedicated training, increasing productivity overall and allowing for continuous improvement over time. Employees likewise praised the solution for its ability to alleviate burnout among high-performers and improve confidence and engagement across the team.
How Can Leaders Evaluate the Impact of Better Brand Consistency?
For leaders that want to assess the magnitude and value at stake in their organization, here are key questions to consider:
- What investments have we taken to ensure consistent, on-brand communication with employees, customers, and vendors? (e.g., training, QA processes and resources, new support vendors, more copy editors for material approvals, new point solutions)
- In what places does our brand show up (e.g., ads, support, website, sales, internal channels), and how consistent are we in those interactions? Pro tip: Consider a sample audit from the previous quarter to get started quickly, then evaluate the best tools and processes to address these inconsistencies.
- Are they leading to steady improvements in our ability to hit our goals, or where do they fall short? (e.g., training has not improved sales, frequent inconsistencies across support interactions, managers spending too much time remediating errors)
- How much does failing to provide consistent communication cost my organization? In what ways does this cost appear (e.g., reduced growth, faster attrition, eroded brand credibility, higher costs to deliver, slower speed to hit goals)
If the problem continues, the cost to solve it has been high, or both, then leaders will know they need to re-focus investments on solutions specifically designed to drive consistency across the organization. With more effective, consistent communication, organizations can reach new levels of performance while creating more memorable experiences for customers, employees, and stakeholders alike.
For more about the importance of brand consistency in overcoming your organizational challenges, visit www.grammarly.com/business.