About Us

Karen Martin and Beverley Ireland-Symonds promote the value of having effective communication skills for individuals, teams and organisations.
Wednesday, 19 January 2011

How to make sure your messages reach your customers

Few companies realise how many of their customers have poor literacy skills and struggle with reading, writing, speaking or listening?

According to the National Literacy Trust, a staggering one in six people in the UK struggle with literacy and their skills are below the level expected of an eleven year old. This may be is a shocking statistic, but how does it impact on your business?
Well, if you have always found reading and writing easy, then it’s probably hard to imagine the daily struggle that people experience if they have literacy problems. Can you imagine trying to buy food in the supermarket if you can’t read what’s on the labels? How do you know which aisle to go to if you can’t read the signs?

The problem is bigger than this though as it’s not only reading and writing that people struggle with - speaking and listening can also be an issue. This doesn’t mean that someone with poor literacy skills can’t speak, but it does mean that he/she might struggle to communicate clearly in certain situations.

Not everyone will struggle to this degree, as it depends on each individual’s level of literacy, but any literacy problem is going to make everyday life more difficult.

Now let’s go back to your customers. Most businesses send out hundreds of messages in different forms – e-mails, letters, posters, fliers, phone calls, face-to-face communication etc – without thinking about how the messages will be understood by ALL of their customers.

Until you can put yourself in your customers’ shoes, it’s difficult to realise how your messages are coming across to anyone who has poor literacy skills. The National Literacy Trust launched a new campaign last November to highlight the difficulties people face on a daily basis if they have poor literacy skills. The Director of the National Literacy Trust, Jonathan Douglas, spent a whole day without speaking to highlight how important all literacy skills are, including speaking and listening, in order to communicate effectively.