Marketing communications are almost always tested with customers. But many operational communications are not, and it shows. I get a statement every year from my telco summarizing my annual telephone activity. The thing really needs to be accompanied by a rosetta stone, it's such a mystery to unravel. Definitely not adding value in my life, and always makes me vaguely nervous that I might be missing something important.
I heard a really good example of just how damaging operational communications can be.
NSF stands for Non-Sufficient Feeling
A marketing guy working at a bank recently told me a story about the NSF notification letter they were sending out to customers who had deposited an NSF cheque.
Instead of sympathizing with the customer's obvious problem of receiving a bad cheque, to say nothing of the charges incurred, the letter subtly suggested that the customer should be taking greater care of things. While perhaps well intentioned, customer complaints of the "how dare you" kind put the spotlight on this wording, and said letter has now been changed.
All communications are brand communications. And they had better not go out NSF.