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March 21, 2013

Automated Communications: Doesn’t work for Ally, doesn’t work for your employees

A few weeks ago I saw the Ally Bank “machine” commercial. In it, customers were greeted by a blender in the dry cleaners – not a person. If you haven’t seen it, take a look:




Ally’s point is people don’t like automated systems – and you should be able to talk to a real person when needed because that’s what bank customers want.

It immediately got me thinking about how we communicate inside organizations. We get caught up in an “automated system” of communicating messages in general, but even worse, our strategy.

I often hear leaders say, “We told them the strategy. We sent them an email and have put up posters. What don’t they understand?”

My response is often the same – unless your messages are being heard in a way that your audience understands, you aren’t communicating.

This is that automated system of communicating…the “check off the box” mentality.

  • Send an email
  • Make a poster
  • I’ve communicated

Employees don’t want to read jargon that has no meaning to them and their role inside the organization. They want to hear how they fit in to the strategy. They need to see themselves in the big picture so they can contribute and feel part of the journey.

Communication isn’t one way. It should be a dialogue. Especially when audience engagement and understanding are critical.

So, I urge us all to sit back and take a lesson from Ally; to consider our audiences’ communication needs before we communicate.  Imagine the payoff.

In what ways are you caught up in an automated system of communicating, and what can you do differently to meet your audiences’ communication needs?

-          David Grossman



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