A business is in constant contact with its customers, whether on the phone, in writing or face to face. All these forms of communication – particularly face-to-face contact – are important in making sure your customers are satisfied.
We are also constantly communicating with colleagues and suppliers, and good communication skills help us to respond to instructions and inquiries promptly. This is important – not only our own work, but other people’s job performance, may depend on how effectively we respond. Effective communication improves an organisation’s efficiency and productivity.
So communication is, arguably, the single most important component in a successful business. Your organization can have the best quality products and services in a huge range, it can have an excellent location with top end fit out and design. None of this matters, however, if the communication process doesn’t work; communication between colleagues, management, customers and potential customers. The difference between a successful company and an unsuccessful one is the ability of its staff to communicate at an appropriate level, using the best possible methods, to achieve the desired outcome for the organization; a positive customer experience.
Planning workplace communication
It could be said that communicating is a self evident and simple skill; after all you talk to friends and family all the time don’t you. In the workplace, however, communication takes on very different aspects and needs to be more considered. Much depends, for example, on;
why you need to communicate
who you will be communicating with
how this communication needs to take place
and what needs to be said.
Within a small organisation, where everyone is working together closely in a small group and in a small space communication can be very simple and informal; using first names and a casual familiar attitude towards each other.
When working for a multinational company, on the other hand, it is unlikely that you would ever be required to talk to a senior manger, the group CEO or the Chairman. But if you did, there would be a higher level of formality or even protocol you would need to observe.
An organisation’s productivity depends on work being done efficiently, so time, as they say, is money. People in the business world are, generally, very busy and don’t have time to waste on irrelevancies or confused messages. This means that the time you have to communicate with people in the workplace may be limited, so you need to know exactly what you want to say, how it relates to your audience, and why it is important for them to know this information.
Establishing audience and purpose of workplace communication
When communicating in a business environment the first thing you need to consider is who your audience is. This will determine the level of formality you use; passing information on to a colleague or team leader will need a lesser degree of formality than if you were addressing the company CEO or a customer. These people may include (but are not limited to):
colleagues, with whom you might discuss day to day issues related to your specific jobs.
supervisors or senior managers that you might need to communicate with to;
report on any issues or problems
receive instructions from supervisors
pass on customer complaints
request authority for something you want to do that may need approval
discuss reviews, training or any other business related issues
customers who need assistance and information about products or services.
suppliers from whom you order stock, other necessary supplies or to chase up deliveries.
These and many other interactions take place on a daily basis and may also involve very different purposes and communication methods.
What is the purpose of the communication?
There will be many reasons for communication in a work environment including (but not limited to);
gathering information that you need to complete a task or project
providing or sharing information you have received to colleagues or supervisors
researching information to fulfil a specific work need
selling a product or service to customers
lodging a complaint
suggesting improvements and many more.
So who you are addressing, and the reason for the communication will provide the foundation for the communication method and style.
Identifying information needs and communication requirements
Depending on what is to be communicated and who the intended recipient is, information needs will vary, as will the frequency of that communication and the method by which you deal with them. For example;
Sales and Marketing – need information relating to;
competitor brochures or product information
results of customer feedback on your products and service
latest trends and fashions within your company’s industry
Accounts need information about;
banking records and paperwork
receipts for sales made
stock takes and inventories and so on
Customers want to know about;
details such as the features and benefits of your products or services
sales and special promotions
Operations managers will need access to information about;
customer orders that need to be fulfilled
delivery schedules for incoming and outgoing goods
state of the organisation’s inventory so that supplies can be replenished
maintenance of equipment or premises
Company managers will need to know about;
workplace health and safety issues
information about legal matters and codes of practice
These are only a few examples of the information needs within an organisation. … continued in learner guide ….