The importance of effective communication
A Building Societies Association case study

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Page 2: The communication process

Effective communication is vital to all businesses. The communication process involves:

If the right message does not get to the right person, in the right format, then this could affect the overall efficiency of the business. Worse still, the wrong messages might be passed on to the wrong people. This could actually harm the business.

There are a number of parts to any communication. For instance, sending a text message involves:

  • the sender - the person writing the text
  • the receiver - the person to whom the message is addressed
  • the content of the message - for example, news, information, an invitation
  • the format of the message - in this example it is text but many other different ways are possible
  • the communication channel through which the message is sent - in this case a mobile phone network
  • the medium - how the message will be sent, in this case it is in writing.

It is vital that each part of the message is correctly chosen and in place. If not, the message may not be received or understood. Sending a text to someone without a mobile phone will obviously fail.

It is important for a business to choose how and when it will send messages to intended receivers. For example, a building society will only send information about a new savings product to its members by text or email, if they have specifically chosen to receive communication by that method. Sending information by this method to people who cannot receive text or email could result in losing an opportunity to sell a new product.

The BSA's member building societies mainly communicate with three groups:

1. Members who require information about the society's aims and performance. Members are legally entitled to receive certain information from their society, such as a copy of the annual summary financial statement on the society's business and notice of the Annual General Meeting. As well as the required formal forms of communication, societies also communicate with their members on a more informal basis:

  • Building societies run roadshows to promote services or support the community. For instance, the West Bromwich Building Society has run roadshows with the charity Help the Aged helping pensioners to cope with finances in winter.
  • Members can also become part of member panels that discuss key issues and report back to the whole membership. Yorkshire Building Society uses its Member Panel of more than 10,000 customers to decide which charitable causes it will donate to.

2. Societies believe it is important to engage with the local communities in which they work:

  • The Cambridge Building Society explains its commitment to local people: 'As a local, mutual society, we are committed to supporting the local community in which we operate.'
  • Saffron Building Society lends its mobile communications vehicle and loudspeaker equipment to local shows and sports events.

3. New customers may be attracted by TV or radio broadcasts and press advertising. Societies also use different forms of media to promote their services and the benefits of mutuality:

  • Bath Building Society pays to advertise itself on a hot air balloon. In return, the balloon company gives it a number of free flights. The Society offers these as prizes in auctions to raise money for charity.


Building Societies Association | The importance of effective communication