Are you struggling with creating an effective business communication strategy within or outside your company?
Or would you like to improve the way information is shared within your organization?
You are not alone.
The overwhelming majority (92%) of people feel the communication within their company needs to be improved.
Business communication is something most companies are continuously struggling with.
So here’s how to set up an effective business communication strategy for your organization:
- What is business communication?
- The importance of business communication
- What are types of business communication?
- Internal business communication
- External business communication
- How to improve business communication
What is business communication?
Business communication is a broad concept that describes all methods employees are using to share information with one another inside or outside of a company.
The importance of business communication
Business communication is crucial on many levels. Effective communication in business helps keep your employees motivated and driven to be able to efficiently cope with any kind of crisis.
Amidst the COVID pandemic, companies have found a well-defined business communication flow to be crucial for promptly adjusting strategic direction and implementing tactical decisions.
As year-long lockdowns have proved, improving internal communication and collaboration should become companies’ priority as it helps expedite decision-making and cope with crises.
Technology-driven company communication has also become the only way to cope with isolation after lots of organizations have switched to remote operating. According to a recent survey from McKinsey & Company, companies have been encouraging their employees to communicate more to make up for in-person encounters.
On a large scale, lack of communication within a business causes silos.
What are silos in organizations?
Organizational silos refer to the isolation of one or more teams within a company. This means that instead of working as a whole, this company consists of multiple almost independent (and often efficient) departments.
But if those departments may be efficient, why is silos a problem?
Silos create confusion and make it harder to ensure everyone is on the same page. The average team in the United States wastes about 7 hours per week due to organizational silos caused by poor collaboration and communication.
What are types of business communication?
On the highest level, there are two types of communication in the workplace:
- Internal (among the employees)
- External (with customers, partners, niche influencers, other companies, etc.)
Both of these types are equally important for the well-being of a company and can also be further categorized into subtypes:
- Written communication (often via email, but also via IM, Slack and even Trello)
- Visual communication
- In-person communication (also referred to as face-to-face communication)
- Virtual communication (through video chats)
- Meetings (in-group communication)
- Phone communication
There’s a lot to discuss here, so let’s take a look at each of these business communication types:
Internal business communication
Written communication is my favorite form of business communication, whether it is with the client or a co-worker.
- Written communication is productive (you have to type words, so you are forced to make all of them count)
- It is easy to keep a record of (most business email clients and providers offer a handy search feature allowing you to bring up old messages)
Apart from email, written communication can be powered by:
- Private blogs (here’s how to set them up)
- Trello (all of the three methods above are perfect for well-organized communication and keeping everyone on the same page)
- Instant messaging (which is great for quick and urgent exchange)
Written communication can cause delays but it is great for removing barriers and giving voice to the shiest employees.
Visual communication refers to the process of applying visual methods (infographics, charts, etc.) to communicate your message.
The beauty of visual business communication is the ability to make complicated concepts and processes easy to understand and remember.
Adding data visualizations to a financial report, for example, makes it a lot easier to scan and understand the information:
Some common types of visual communications in the workplace include:
- Process diagrams
- Flow charts
- Charts and graphs
- Visual reports
- Mind maps
Here’s an example of how mind maps can be used for internal business communication. Mind maps are perfect for collaboration: You can build them while brainstorming in a group meeting or during the call. They provide a visual representation of a task, steps or the flow:
In-person / face-to-face communication
In-person and face-to-face communication is almost a thing of the past now that most meetings have become virtual. This is actually a sad trend, considering how psychological studies show that face-to-face communication is more satisfying and fosters higher-quality interaction.
That being said, when it is safe, business executives should strive to revive face-to-face communication on a regular basis.
Virtual communication became a preferred business communication method in 2020 when lots of big and small organizations moved to remote working (or introduced virtual operations for some departments).
Meeting virtually has replaced face-to-face meetings for lots of businesses across the world. When our company moved to remote working, we started using Dialpad Meetings for two reasons:
- There’s nothing to download and install
- You can register rooms for the whole company to use when they need them. No need to generate a new code every time you want people to join. You just enter your team’s URL and you are done.
How do you improve your virtual business communication? You can read our blog on the 10 tips for effective remote team communication, or save the infographic below:
Virtual meetings have proved to be better for productivity and less costly, while face-to-face meetings are better for developing friendships and deeper knowledge sharing.
With that in mind, when we finally get back to normal, both virtual and face-to-face communication is important for a company’s well-being.
Meetings (in-group communication)
When it comes to internal company meetings, the problem is lots of the times businesses hold meetings just for the sake of having it without considering how ineffective that can be:
Yes, internal meetings are important for maintaining a friendly environment and getting to know one another. But they can also be extremely time-consuming and unproductive.
That being said, a monthly meeting is always great but replace your weekly and daily meetings with virtual communication, if possible.
While being a helpful way to reach anyone quickly, phone communication can easily ruin a company’s productivity. It is too easy to call someone to ask a quick question and 30 minutes later find yourself discussing your weekend plans with your co-worker.
Phone communication is also not something easily avoidable as mobile phones have made phone calls and text messages an integral part of our lives.
It is important to create strict guidelines to minimize phone calls within a company and encourage employees to use other methods of communication, when possible.
External business communication
When it comes to written business communication outside of a company, it can take two major forms:
- Private (email, chat, etc.)
- Public (social media)
Here’s the golden rule for written communications for just about any company: Your goal is to move public communication into a private environment, especially when it comes to customers.
You never know when your customer may feel annoyed or threatened and go viral with their anger. To keep your reputation more secure, invite your customers to email or call.
Visual business communication is widely used in the B2B sales process because visuals are able to illustrate the selling point like no other medium can.
If you’ve ever sat through a sales call or a demo, you may have seen lots of powerful visual communication assets that made you think “I need this!”
This mind map lists the tips for effective B2B communication and negotiation, but you can easily customize it to use for your external visual communication needs:
Obviously, visual communication is applied on a broader scope than just B2B sales.
Here’s an example of an infographic you can send to your clients to explain a process:
Even posting videos and images on social media may be considered a form of external business communication. This includes communicating through video content, which according to statistics, has been growing exponentially recently.
With visual communication being such an important part of your company’s public image, it is important to maintain a consistent look and feel of your visual assets.
It starts with a domain. Your name needs to match your niche, create positive associations and make it easy to remember your brand. It should also be consistent with your other channels (social media channels, your blog, etc.) and align with your logo. Namify is a handy tool to handle of these aspects:
From there you need to keep your visual marketing consistent.
This is where Venngage’s My Brand Kit can turn into a lifesaver. It allows you to create, save and share your visual identity within your company for all the teams to create well-branded and consistently looking visual brand assets (like videos, social media graphics, blog images, etc.):
In-person / face-to-face communication
When it comes to external business communication, in-person communication often happens when your company representatives visit conferences, industry shows and summits.
It is very important to develop a clear external communication policy for your employees to know what they can and cannot do when representing your company in in-person meetings. Here’s a solid example from Marvell.
Technology has made companies closer to their customers. These days any brand can directly talk to their customers via social media, and even interact with them using video or voice.
External virtual communication include:
- Live video (which can also help you establish a stronger brand presence on social media)
- Clubhouse, in which brands or their representatives can talk to clients or niche influencers
- Webinars, which can be used to educate and engage your audience
Like with any public business communication, it is important to ensure that your representatives are aware of and follow your external communication policy.
Meetings (in-group communication)
Group meetings are not a very popular type of external business communication unless it’s for market research purposes (a focus group, for example).
Phone communication is an essential form of customer support but it is also very time-consuming. More and more companies are seeking ways to minimize phone communication with customers. To make your customer service more productive, consider:
- Making other external communication methods (email, chat, push notifications, etc.) more obvious on your site
- Using solutions like UCaaS and Call Centers that make phone communication easier to organize
Phone communication is also widely used in B2B when businesses provide voice coaching or consulting. In these business models, businesses are paid based on how many phone conversations they were able to sell.
In these cases, using online appointment scheduling software like Appointfix will help you get organized. This tool allows easy scheduling of phone calls and (virtual) meetings helping you and your employees to maintain a doable and productive schedule:
How to improve business communication
There are a few strategic and long-term ways to improve just about any business communication strategy, including:
Build a detailed knowledge base
A knowledge base is a well-organized collection of documentation addressing all kinds of issues, questions and resources that can help in both internal and external communication easier.
The knowledge base can help on many levels, including:
- Make new employees’ lives easier by eliminating the need to ask their new managers lots of questions
- Enable customer support team to quickly refer customers to further reading or instructions on any topic
- Eliminate the need of turning to outside resources, and keep everyone within and outside the company on the same page
An effective knowledge base organizes all kinds of resources from detailed tutorials on how to perform a task to a concise FAQ covering popular questions.
Creating a knowledge base is an ongoing project, as more and more questions will come up as you start working on it.
A good place to start is to look at niche questions that will turn helpful in organizing your knowledge base. Text Optimizer is a quick and easy way to do that:
Create a business dashboard
Another effective way to keep your whole company updated on the key metrics is using a business dashboard. A dashboard aims at aggregating and organizing several data points which are regularly updated. These data points may include:
- Traffic and conversions
- ROI goals and predictions
- Web analytics and ecommerce metrics
- Customer reviews and online sentiment
- Key marketing achievements
- Ad tracking, etc.
Being able to see recent stats and metrics will help each employee part of a whole and give context for transparent business communication.
Cyfe is a good way to put a business dashboard together.
You can also create a custom and self-hosted business dashboard for your company using these dashboard templates.
Create consistent communication policies
I’ve mentioned creating an external communication policy above but it is so important, it deserves a separate section.
Create one single document detailing what people representing your brand can or cannot say in public. This will make your company’s external communication strategy more predictable and safer.
These guidelines should also include your brand’s ambassadors, affiliates and contributors.
Lots of companies are reluctant to make organizational changes because they are worried that those changes may reduce productivity.
In fact, “the less we talk, the better we work” concept is not completely wrong.
The problem occurs when no team or single person knows what is going on with the company.
To create an effective business communication flow, try several methods before you know which ones work better. Encourage your employees to share knowledge and data with team members as well as to use different communication methods.
Creating a business communication strategy is an ongoing process. Things that seemed to work first may stop working quite quickly. Keep using different methods while working on long-term assets to make communication easier. Good luck!
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