Healthy communication is essential for every business. But effective communication can mean the difference between success and failure.
Harvard Business Review highlighted in a 2016 article that employees spend nearly 80% of their time on collaborative activities, including meetings, emails, and phone calls. Today’s employees are so inundated trying to keep up with requests that many don’t have time to do their core job function. Soon, they’re taking work home and quickly experiencing burnout.
Fortunately, there’s a fast fix to avoid losing money and good employees: improve your communications.
So how do you incorporate stellar communication in your company for 2019, and what tools will work best for your company culture? Read on for tips and tools that will help your company’s communication skills and also improve your relationships with your employees and your customers.
Manage Company Communications
Team chat spaces can help your employees collaborate and get work done quickly. Some companies opt to use a chat provider which allows for fast, on-the-go collaboration so team members can share and refine their work immediately. Other businesses choose to engage in a private social network that’s entirely focused on their business. Here are a few tools to consider:
Slack is a messaging app that has quickly become a titan in the workplace. It’s ideal for remote teams because of its various bots and powerful integrations. Teams can communicate in channels in a stream-like system allowing for quick updates and issue resolution.
Yammer is a workplace social network where team members who share the same company domain in their email can join to collaborate across all departments and locations. It allows you to share posts with specific groups or update your teammates on your day—the whole layout is similar to Facebook, making it easy for digital native workspaces to adopt and use.
Employees like using Skype for communication because it allows audio and video calls between multiple devices. Business owners like Skype because it’s free. Teams can collaborate via laptop, phone, or tablet in virtual meetings across different time zones, making it an efficient way to communicate when text-based chats won’t cut it.
Save Time and Money: Set norms and expectations around your messaging system. By having clear expectations up front around how employees should use the tool, you’ll reduce the likelihood of it becoming a distraction or liability.
Choose the Right Phone Plan for You
Even with all the advances in technology and online chatting, 65% of customers still prefer to speak to businesses over the phone. As more enterprises work through cloud-based applications and some employees work remotely, you need to be sure your phone system can be where your employees are.
Phone offerings are a bit different from the other tools listed here. You typically get phone service from whichever provider in your area supplies your other telecom products like internet or TV, meaning your choices may be limited to the few companies in your area unless you opt for a virtual system.
These are the main phone options for businesses:
Landline business phones work the same way as residential phones: voice gets carried through land-based telephone wires, bringing information from point A to point B. This type of connection is highly reliable, though not as easily scalable as other options.
VoIP, short for “Voice over Internet Protocol,” sends voice data over an internet connection, allowing you to take your desk phone with you, so you do not miss important business calls. You can also analyze call data, predict peak call times, and make it easier for co-workers to stay in touch.
Virtual phones are a more recent addition to the business phone lineup. Calls in these systems route through virtual numbers directly to employees’ cell phones—they don’t have to use their number, but they can use their device. This could pair perfectly for BYOD offices that encourage staff to use their phones or computers.
Save Time and Money: Take stock of exactly how many lines you currently need and how likely it is that you’ll need to expand in the next year or two. A small, stable company might do just fine without the bells and whistles of a VoIP system, for instance, while a high-growth company that makes a lot of phone sales would likely lose money having to upgrade a landline setup frequently.
Track Projects with Online Management Tools
When your team has multiple projects spinning simultaneously, you want to keep track of deadlines and communications about each step along the way. Project management applications can help you identify team production goals and then prioritize your actions to improve overall team productivity. Here are a few to consider:
Asana is a cloud-based project management platform that allows team members to access data from anywhere, as long as they have a Wi-Fi connection. Dashboards and timelines help managers track the status of projects, and files and tasks can be sent to co-workers to keep project materials in one place.
Podio helps businesses and managers keep their teams organized and focused on the same priorities. Managers can see at a glance how team members spend their workdays, and co-workers can collaborate on various projects, no matter where they are. Team productivity increases because everyone can see everyone else’s status on a project at any given time.
Trello allows team members to organize their projects using cards that are savable to an assigned work board. The visual interface is like writing tasks on sticky notes and segregating them by status or completion date. Move tasks around so you can see updated statuses or due dates. This at-a-glance visual is popular for designers and creatives.
Basecamp is another popular cloud-based project management system that’s easy to use, affordable, and great for small businesses. The user interface is simple to learn quickly, making this a somewhat painless system to start using. Team members can assign tasks, copy repetitive project tasks lists, and share files in a collaborative environment.
Save Time and Money: Plan early training for whichever system you use. Most PM solutions are intended to adapt to team needs flexibly, so you need to get everyone on the same page about how your organization will use the system and who owns which portions.
Manage Company Documents and Files
A lot of companies store documents and files on a local server or company intranet, but that method can limit accessibility and require internal maintenance. For a more agile solution, consider an online sharing environment such as the following:
1) Google Drive
A drive is an excellent option for businesses of all sizes, but it’s especially useful for smaller companies that use the other programs in G Suite: Docs, Sheets, and Slides, for example. Being able to edit documents and projects live in Drive makes versioning easy, and the sharing allowances ensure the right users have the right access.
For easy access and lots of integration, Dropbox is a solid option. You can see file histories, upgrade space as your company grows, and receive recovery support if something goes awry. There are a few different plan tiers as well, so you don’t have to pay for features you won’t use.
Save Time and Money: Communicate explicit document sharing and versioning standards. When company documents get managed correctly, employees and owners have access to policies, recent news, and other valuable information.
Keep Your Customers Informed
Communication to your team is vital for your business, and so is communicating with your customers. Bulk email systems have made it easier than ever to keep your clients updated and informed on orders, sales, and even the status of new products coming on the horizon. Here are a few email systems to consider:
Considered one of the most popular bulk email software systems, MailChimp is a robust email system that allows you to keep multiple contact lists, create email templates, and even build personalized landing pages for your business. Not only can you analyze how your email campaigns perform, but you can also drill down to see which customers are reading your communications.
2) Constant Contact
Best known for its user-friendly interface, Constant Contact allows you to set up automated responses to your customers, conduct A/B testing to determine which emails get the most clicks from your readers, and send select contacts from your email list a birthday note.
Filled with designed templates, iContact is another popular bulk email system known for its automation workflows and email builder interface. This particular provider has a history of excellent customer service and dedicated advisors to help you with your email questions or campaign setup.
Infusionsoft’s tagline says it all: “We help small businesses succeed.” And the company’s offerings show that it’s serious. It offers bulk email services and also provides CMS support and invoicing and payment software. Infusionsoft even helps you create campaigns based on user behavior on your site.
5) HubSpot Marketing
Known for its tracking and analytics, HubSpot Marketing allows you to send emails to your contact list and offers training on marketing best practices through the HubSpot Academy. Users like the eLearning courses and say they’re a great way to learn inbound marketing methodology.
Save Time and Money: Pick a mailing system that matches the scope of your team’s needs. A small team without many design or dev resources to spare would do best to pick a system with solid template options, while a larger group with a sizeable customer base would probably have more use for segmenting and analytics.
When you promote effective communication in your company, not only are you setting a foundation for success, but you’re increasing overall employee happiness at the same time. With so many tools out there to help you communicate effectively and efficiently to your team members and customers, you can now easily create a productive environment for your business in 2019 and avoid miscommunication issues.
How has improving your company’s communication helped you save time and money? Leave a comment below. Be sure to check out CareerMetis’s other articles on time-saving tools for your business as you ramp up production on your 2019 goals.