The Biggest Communication Problem You Have (& How to Fix It)


For more than three decades, our company has partnered with our clients to help them communicate more effectively. When new communication tools are introduced, we figure them out so our clients don’t have to.

In fact, that’s how we got our start: we learned to create video spots for local businesses when video became an option for businesses. Along the way, we’ve become a communication hub, and that’s how the Retriever Digital Signage came about.

Our customers needed a better way to communicate with their customers and employees that would be more effective than static signage or cluttered bulletin boards. So, we created a simple to use, web-based software that delivered beautiful and dynamic digital signage without a learning curve for the user.

Along the way, we’ve become communication experts, and there are some pitfalls that we see more often than others. When our clients have problems, in many cases, ineffective communication is at the center of the problem.

One problem emerges more than any other, though, and you’re likely guilty of this common issue. That problem is assuming others know what you know.

This assumption is at the crux of most communication issues, and plays out in a myriad of ways. Here are a couple of scenarios that might seem familiar:

Scenario #1:

Your bank has been trying to sell more home equity lines of credit, but is struggling to get customers to bite. Sure, there have been a few, but you’re just not hitting the numbers you expected for the rate you’re offering.

To solve this problem, you offer incentives to your bankers for selling the product, advertise heavily. You see a slight increase but not a significant return. You press the staff more to upsell, and nothing works.

The real problem is not your staff or your advertising, it’s your assumption that the customer understands. In this scenario, you’re assuming all of your customers know what a home equity line of credit is, how it can benefit them, and how competitive your rate is. Your communication isn’t effective because your communication isn’t meeting the desired recipient at their current level of knowledge and taking them to the point of understanding. 

The fix: Start the conversation with the problem first – on your digital signage while they wait, publish slides that help the customer to understand their problem and learn more: “Is it time for all new windows? A new roof? New flooring? You might be able to afford it now. Ask us how.”

When your customer is at the teller window, instead of saying, “Did you know you qualify for a home equity line of credit?” try, “Are you familiar with how a home equity line of credit works? I see here that you qualify.” Send them away with a pamphlet informing and showcasing your competitive rates.

Scenario #2: 

You’ve recently changed the way your company tracks time. You announced the change in your weekly staff meeting and you did a run-through of the new process. Should be good to go, right?

Except, only a few of the staff members are doing this correctly- . So you send out a company-wide message and remind them of the change. Only two more people fix the issue.

You’re frustrated and unsure of what else to do to get everyone on the same page, and begin to feel angry with your team.

The problem in this scenario is not unwillingness, it’s the assumption that your team understands after one tutorial in a team meetingAfter all, if you’re rolling out a new time tracking process, you’ve had more time in the system than anyone else, which means your depth of understanding and ability to navigate it is well beyond those on your team.

Effective communication requires repetition – that’s why our digital signage repeats the slides in a looping playlist. The more you see something, the more likely you are to learn it.

The fix: Following your staff meeting, send out a link to a video tutorial identical to what you showed your team. You could even record your screen in the meeting! Then, take screenshots of that recording, and make a quick explainer slide to put on your digital signage. From there, if there’s anyone who still doesn’t understand, you can open up your calendar with appointment slots to go over it one on one as needed.

When you approach any communication breakdown, ask yourself first: what am I assuming my audience understands? Am I certain they understand those things? If I assume they don’t understand, what would I tell them to bring them to understanding? How can I say those things?

We believe in effective communication, and we’d love to further support your pursuit of improving your own business’s communication. That’s why we’re giving away this free eBook to help. Get it here: Download our Communications Guide

Colleen Cook

Colleen Cook

Colleen Cook works full-time as the Director of Operations at Vinyl Marketing in Ashland, Ohio, where she resides with her husband Mike and three young daughters. She's an insatiable extrovert who enjoys finding reasons to gather people.