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Consumers don’t bother reading nearly 80% of the information sent out by UK businesses, a survey from communications agency Freeman Christie revealed today. Truth-twisting, weasel words, obfuscation and tortured English mean that most letters, brochures and leaflets end up in the bin.
James Freeman, a Freeman Christie Partner, says “Every pointless, poorly designed or badly written piece of communication turns people off that little bit more. Every time someone speaks to a call centre operator who just parrots a script at them, they lose a little more faith. Every time you lie, a fairy dies – and UK businesses are massacring them by the thousand.”
“It’s not news that vast amounts of stuff gets thrown away unread; but the reasons behind it are important,” says Mark McArthur-Christie, also a Partner at Freeman Christie. “Businesses think they can send second-rate material to their customers and expect to be listened to – but people have learned that most corporate communication is a waste of time. It either takes a page of A4 to say nothing or it hides a nasty surprise behind weasel words and jargon. Consumers can’t be bothered with it anymore.”
The Freeman Christie survey showed that business-to-business communication is one of the worst areas, with more than 90% of material being binned within a few seconds.
“We’ve turned consumers and businesses into cynics,” concludes McArthur-Christie, “and we need to win them back. Companies spend fortunes on advertising but pennies on their customer communications. It’s completely the wrong way round. Business needs to wake up to the value of customer communications and stop treating it as a “bolt-on” that can be delegated to junior staff.”
To start UK firms thinking, FC has launched it’s own No Bull subsite (www.freemanchristie.com/nobull... where businesses and consumers can nominate their pet hates, sign up to support the campaign and download articles, computer screen wallpapers and the No Bull logo.