South-Western - Management  
The True Impact of Ineffective Business Communications
Topic Managing Communication
Key Words Business communications, productivity
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News Story

Information Mapping, Inc. (IMI), a provider of information life cycle solutions recently completed a survey about business communications. Their findings show that 85% of participants say that their organization has lost business due to an ineffective presentation, proposal, memo, or e-mail.

Other findings show that business communications are causing serious performance problems. Forty-six percent of the respondents report that their organization’s business communications cause mistakes and performance errors; 35% report underused content management systems or Intranets; 31% report high stress, low morale, or high employee turnover; and 24% report an overloaded help desk or high levels of support calls.

Other findings:

  • 55% say their employees are not easily able to find the information they need to do their jobs
  • 45% say that the information they use in their business is not accurate, complete, and up to date, and
  • 44% say that the information they use in their business does not contain the right amount of detail.
The survey also finds that people are wasting time reading and writing business communications, especially reading business communications that are poorly written. 79% of those interviewed say they are wasting at least a half hour every day on these poorly worded communications. Meanwhile, 100% say that writing business communications is “very or extremely important” to their success on the job.

Many managers don’t realize how much time and money poor business communication is costing them, because they are focusing on things like sales performance and customer satisfaction ratings. They don’t realize that poor communication is often the root of the problems in these other areas.

One New England call center was able to reduce call time by 20% and improve the overall quality of customer care and response just by reorganizing and improving documentation that was used by employees in the area every day.

Recognizing that there is a problem with business communications and then investing a little time and money to fix the problem can have big payoffs.


Has business communication become more important or less important in today’s business world? Support your answer with examples.


What are the elements of effective business communication and effective presentations? Give at least three elements to support each of your answers.


You are the CEO and founder of a mail-order jewelry company that has significant catalog and Internet sales. In the past five years, your business has more than tripled thanks to exposure on Oprah and a certain popular young celebrity who orders everything in your new collection and wears the pieces everywhere. Recently, you have dramatically expanded your staff. Your company has gone from the kind of place where you knew every rep selling your jewelry to a place where everyone seems to know you, but it’s hard to keep track of all the new faces. Your floor supervisor has just come in to tell you that although she has written a 100-page descriptive memo about the new line, none of the new reps seem to be taking the time to read it or use it as a reference when they are speaking with customers on the phone. She plays you a few recorded customer calls where customers have questions about sizes, colors, and weight of pieces and you hear reps saying “I’m not sure,” or “I don’t know.” The result has been lost orders. List at least three things you can do to improve the way that information is being communicated to your customer representatives so that orders are not lost.

Source “Information Mapping Inc. Survey Reveals the True Impact of Ineffective Business Communications,” Business Wire, Dec. 7, 2006, pNA.
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