When you are not clear in your communication to me, it causes me friction. I then need to seek clarification from you, in turn causing you friction. Both of us incur wasted time and frustration because not enough care was taken with the initial communication. You may have thought you were being clear, but if you stopped and reread your email/post/memo before sending with the reader in mind, you may have picked up a lack of clarity.
I recently bought a new car, which required me to switch my electronic toll tag from the old car to the new. The tag holder on the window was stuck fast, so I had to order a new one from the toll company. This was not expensive from a financial point of view, but cost me more time than it should have.
I logged onto my toll account online, and navigated to the relevant page to order the new bracket. There were four pictures of different types of tag, and I was asked to choose the one I had, so I received the right bracket. All good, except that my tag did not look quite like any of the pictures. So, I had to pick up the phone to call their customer support team. After a wait, I got onto a woman who assured me she could help. She got me to read out the code printed on my tag, and then informed me I had the tag in picture four. Ok, but it did not look the same!
She patiently told me that it was my tag, and that was the one I should choose. When I asked why the picture looked different to my tag, she laughed and told me that of course they won’t all look exactly the same. It just looks something like my tag. ‘Something like my tag’ is not good enough to help me to make the right decision, and unbelievably frustrating for me.
The point here is that if the picture was designed to communicate what my tag looked like, it should look exactly the same, or if not, provide additional information about the potential differences. Companies like this try to reduce costs by channelling their customer queries and complaints through their website, rather than tying up human resources. But if the website does not communicate the right information, or clear information, it causes friction, and results in a phone call anyway. Get it right first time and save time, money and frustration.
Exactly the same concept applies to your communications. Get it right first time and save time, money and frustration.