When we have a lot to say about a subject, we may find it relatively straightforward to write down our thoughts. We know what’s important to us and we know what we want to tell our reader. The danger is, we may end up with a lot of words on the page that fail to communicate anything to our reader or bring about meaningful change.
Separating wants from needs
Organisations often fall into the trap of alienating their clients and potential customers by focusing on their own wants rather than their customers’ needs. When writing emails, reports or other workplace communications, most team members do so from the mindset of ‘What do I want to say?’ rather than ‘What does my reader need to know?’
Focusing on the reader, rather than on yourself or your organisation, is a subtle yet powerful shift in mindset that will revolutionise the way you write and give your written communications greater impact. It will also show that you care more about your customers and their needs than about yourself.
It’s about them not you
The first step is to analyse the needs of your reader and clearly understand the purpose of the communication. Let’s say you receive an online complaint from a customer about the service they received. Your task in responding to this complaint is not to defend how good your organisation is or how experienced your customer service officers are. It’s not to prove the customer wrong.
Your task is to fix the problem to ensure the customer is happy, speaks well of your organisation and remains a client or customer. Failure to do this could result in your customer spreading poor reviews of your organisation which could result in reputational damage and further loss of custom.
When replying to the complaint, your instinct may be to dig your heels in and defend your organisation’s position or prove that they are wrong. Instead, focus on your customer’s experience by acknowledging their feelings and offering a viable solution. Acknowledging feelings is not the same as admitting liability. It is part of building a good relationship with your customer. If you fail to focus your response on them and their needs, it will be difficult to work towards an acceptable solution.
Maintaining a competitive advantage
Meaningful communication focused on the needs of your reader will give you a competitive edge. When clients and customers feel valued and listened to, they are more likely to think and speak highly of your organisation. Focusing on what your reader needs to know will also help you write communications that are to the point and get results. If the answer to the question ‘Does my reader need to know this?’ is ‘No’, then that information doesn’t belong in the communication.
Whatever we write must have a purpose. The content must be meaningful, clear and concise using language the reader can understand. It must also be written with the reader’s point of view in mind. Get these basics right and you will notice a huge difference in how people respond to your emails or other written communications.