Miscommunication is one the reasons why there are business-client feuds. Instructions unfollowed, dues unmet, and hidden charge suspicions among other problems can arise just because the company has failed to clarify information or delegate tasks properly. Miscommunication can cause problems within the business too. Without proper coordination, employees could fail to perform tasks effectively (no clear instructions given), meet expectations (not disclosed to them), and follow company directives and regulations (not aware of these). Therefore, establishing both external and internal communications should be a top priority of the business management. This is essential to keep the flow of the business smooth and mistake-free.
Here are 10 tips for effective communication that business owners should understand and follow. 5 are for external transactions, while the other 5 are for internal processes.
These are most applicable to businesses or companies that work in projects or long term contracts with clients.
1. Keep everything recorded in documents.
To avoid any misunderstanding due to inability to comply with clients’ instructions, make sure that all of the information and demands taken from them are documented properly. It should be in written/encoded hardcopy files. Have the clients sign the papers for the legality of the transactions. If the transaction is done online, then there should be an official documentation, and the clients should receive a copy of it along with the invoice. This way, whenever they have complaints that the company has not followed their instructions, the management can check these documents for investigation.
2. Review all client instruction or demand.
This is in connection to the first tip. Before the clients sign the document or a copy is sent to them, the officer making the documentation must validate the data input first. Together, they should review whatever has been discussed in the transaction. In case some information is missing or wrong, the clients can immediately correct it. This will ensure clear instructions.
3. Encourage clients to read terms and conditions (terms of usage).
Usually, terms and conditions are ignored by clients. This is proven in online transactions when customers tick the accept terms and conditions box without even reading through the content because it is too long. Sometimes this is the cause of misunderstanding between the customers and the business. Since the customers have not read the terms and conditions, they are disappointed with some parts of the service or business process which they discover late. Therefore, it is necessary for companies to encourage their clients to read and understand terms and conditions before they close deal with them. This will make everything clear between the parties.
4. All complaints should be dealt professionally within a short time.
No matter how careful a company or enterprise does their business, complaints cannot be avoided sometimes. This is a crucial matter since it can mean an end to the business with the client or worse, it can lead to a lawsuit. Another effect of a complaint not handled properly is the bad reputation that it would bring to the business. Therefore, the company should handle complaints carefully.
Make sure that the client would feel valued and heard by dealing this immediately in a professional manner. Professional means as personal as possible; giving the client the chance to explain the issue without any interruption; investigating all sides of the concern without any bias; and always seeking to meet the need of the client—and this involves humility especially when the fault is on the company’s side part. The management should aim to resolve the issue within the shortest time possible to stop the fire from spreading.
5. Smile always.
One way to attract and keep clients is to put approachable frontliners in the business. Frowning and impatient employees are contagious. When clients are met by this kind of people, they are more likely to be irritable, and chances are they would not want to go back to that office or establishment anymore. For this reason, it is essential for businesses to train and remind their employees to be approachable—wearing smile at all times—even when confronted with an annoying client. This is not just showing professionalism. This can also help alleviate an angry customer’s hot temper.
These can help the business flow smoothly within the organization.
6. All meetings should be recorded in minutes.
Evaluations and decisions are made during meetings in the company. However, sometimes these agenda are forgotten or ignored by members or employees. Therefore, to make sure that everyone understands and agrees to comply with the regulations made or anything that is discussed, the secretary should record everything in minutes and have everyone present during the meeting sign it. It is also best to give everyone a copy of this, or it can be posted on the bulletin board (unless the meeting is highly confidential and does not concern all employees).
7. Instructions or memos must be given in formal letters.
This is necessary especially if an organization is large. If instructions are just handed from the management down to the employees verbally, then there is a chance that it would change until it reaches all involved individuals. Also, some information could be forgotten or delivered wrongly. This is the common reason for confusion or misinformation in an organization. For this reason, all memorandums and instructions must be put in a formal document and the concerned members should be given this copy.
8. Giving orders must be centralized.
When there are a lot of mouths talking, information relay can become confusing especially if what they say differ from each other. To avoid miscommunication or wrong information relayed around, the company or business should be systematic in this. Aside from using formal letters for sending instructions, they should also make a directive that employees only follow the instructions given by the manager or department head. If they only hear it from a co-worker, then they should verify it first before doing it.
9. Be open for ideas and feedback from employees.
Make employees feel that they are valued in the company. Give time to listen to their feedbacks of how the business or the management is doing. This will reveal any internal problems that only those in the body can notice. This can help solve problems such as rampant employee resignation or insubordination. Also, employees can have good suggestions that can help improve the business. Giving them the opportunity to speak out can make them more involved in the company, and the more they take ownership of the business, the more that they will be dedicated and loyal to it.
10. Follow-up on delegated tasks.
To avoid delays and mistakes, all delegated tasks must be followed-up by the boss, supervisors, or department heads to make sure that everything is done properly and timely. It is advisable to keep a progress chart for a more organized and systematic monitoring. By checking regularly, employees will be pressured to do their work excellently and on time. No room for backlogs and complacency then.
Good communication is the key to a harmonious organization. A business needs this to avoid misinformation and other problems within the management and with clients. Therefore, business owners need to be systematic when it comes to communication.