Customer communication: When less (writing) is more (awesome)

When it comes to customer communication, keeping things simple is good for everyone involved. A recent home improvement project really drove this point home (pun intended).

What would a beautiful Sunday in Austin be if it didn’t include putting together some IKEA furniture? It would probably be more relaxing, but whatever, we needed to get these cabinets knocked out.

So there we sat, on the bedroom floor, ripping open cardboard and little plastic bags full of screws and bolts and…instructions!

I’ve noticed this before, numerous times, but I guess it just now struck me as totally awesome — IKEA’s instruction pamphlets don’t have text. They just have pictures. And if you really study the pictures, you’ll agree with me: they’re brilliant!

They make perfect sense, and IKEA can use one set of instructions for furniture that ships globally. Check out this photo of one page from the instructions pamphlet:

IKEA instructions

“First, here are the tools you need”

“Second, if you try to do this alone, you will not be happy. But if you assemble it with a partner, you’ll both be happy!”

“Third, don’t try this on a hard floor – it’s better to assemble it on a rug or carpet.”

“And finally, if you just can’t figure out what to do, call IKEA!”

The pamphlet continued with a few more illustrations guiding us through the process of assembling our cabinets, without a single explanatory sentence. So what are the takeaways?

First, as mentioned in my intro, keeping things simple is better for everyone when it comes to customer communication. Also, a picture might be worth a thousand words, but are you thinking of ways that cutting text or communicating more clearly can save you money? How can you “design” your communications processes to eliminate clutter and inefficiency?

We’re already brainstorming ways to integrate these ideas into our own communications tools and processes — let us know if you have any ideas!

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