Keys to Improve Communication within a Business
Communication is critical in any business and doing it well can lead to increased employee satisfaction and productivity, as well as increased sales and customer satisfaction. On the other hand doing it poorly can affect to the overall work atmosphere and decreased sales when customers vote with their feet. There are a variety of ways that businesses can improve communication, both internal and external, including identifying and focusing on key audiences and their needs, using a variety of communication tools, and providing the opportunity for feedback and two-way communication.
Improving communication in business requires a thorough understanding of audience needs. Every business will have multiple audiences that it communicates with – internal and external. These audiences are diverse: each audience has different levels of understanding, awareness and perceptions about the business, its products and services – and also about its practices. Communicating with an audience without a good understanding of its current beliefs, attitudes and perspectives can result in the problem that the message is perceived totally differently than the sender means, or that the audience focuses on something irrelevant part of the message or the way it is transmitted. For instance, when introducing a new benefit program, focusing on the low cost of the new benefits would be the wrong approach if employees were more concerned about access to specific health care providers.
Focusing on the use of a variety of communication tools can be an important way to improve communication for businesses. One form of communication used one time is unlikely to have the impact that using multiple communication tools over a period of time will have. Businesses should use a broad range of communication tools from the traditional (e.g. print, meetings, telephone, television screens), to the new age (e.g. social media, emails, communal platforms, intranet, videoconferences).
Feedback – the Most Important Thing
Effective communication between businesses and their employees and customers requires a two-way flow of information. Business key personnel need to not only convey messages, they need to also receive messages from employees and customers to best understand their perspectives and areas of concern in order to improve practices inside organization. Opportunity for feedback between managers and employees may occur directly between employees and their managers or at group meetings, through surveys and polls and through anonymous feedback channels like suggestion boxes or hotlines. Feedback from customers is more tricky part. If a customer is unsatisfied with the service (especially with the service) he/she is more likely to not just acquire the service anymore. It’s difficult to reach these people and get their feedback. Modern technology can help us to reach customers: for example we can use text messages that come straight to the phone after having the service. We can also use feedback forms to get feedback. The essential part is to reach the unsatisfied customers before they have spread the word about the bad service, and offer them compensation. And it isn’t enough to get the feedback. Organization needs to also use the feedback information in order to improve service.