The year 2020 was shaped and contorted by factors that changed business communication. Social distancing, pain, and protests took over, and companies had no option but to rethink their business communication strategies. If the year taught the business world anything, it is to prepare for the unexpected and find a balance at a moment’s notice.
One critical area of business that these changes have affected is customer experience. It is one element that will overtake price and product to become the most significant brand differentiator. Customers are no longer loyal to companies because of their lower price or age on the market. The bottom line is that one poor customer experience can contribute to a customer’s switch of allegiance. Poor communication is a significant contributor to bad customer experience.
For a company to deliver the best customer experience, it must primarily rely on good professional communication. This spells out the importance of leveraging the latest business communication technologies. Subsequently, here are the communication changes that should shape business communication in 2021.
Embrace Internal Communications
COVID-19 played a role in the rise of unparalleled disruptions that dispersed workforces. Consequently, the focus of business communication shifted to corporate messaging. The employee started looking forward to internal communications for policy changes, real-time updates, and senior management communication.
As a result, many internal communicators started to see the positive impact of the disruption. Company leaders are now increasingly looking up to internal communicators for guidance.
Internal communication was once a forgotten department, but it has quickly gained a position to the center stage. Therefore, the time is now for companies to assess their messaging strategy and fine-tune their approach. They need to strengthen this department to share information between employees and stakeholders promptly. This practice will promote two-way dialogues and help build multi-directional strategies.
Instead of promoting top-down messaging or mediums like corporate magazines and memos, companies can use multiple channels to empower employees in business communication. This will encourage upward communication where the voice of the employees will also be heard.
The tone of voice used in communication also matters. The overall goal may vary from one enterprise to another based on its needs and challenges. However, the general goal is for internal business communication to bring employees together and enhance customer experience.
Increased Focus on Employee Engagement and Experience
Businesses need to realize positive communication changes. So, they must deeply integrate employee experience into their company culture. By fostering the right employee experience, companies can boost their ability to attract, grow, and retain high-performing workers. How does employee experience contribute to excellent business communication?
Employee experience describes the worker’s journey within an organization, right from their job interview. It considers employee engagement in relation to the physical workspace, their general wellbeing, and interpersonal relationships. The Future of Work author, Jacob Morgan, says this experience is a factor of:
- Workplace environment
- Corporate culture
- Tools and technology
Companies should work on creating a positive and comprehensive experience for its employees. Each employee journey must reflect the company’s culture and values, which is only possible through effective internal communication. By achieving this, employees can be fully involved in the delivery of a positive customer experience. It also reduces employee turnover, which is costly for a company.
Digital Transformation in Business Communication
The pandemic saw many companies fast-track their digital transformation to fit in the current environment. However, if they lack digital skills, they may sabotage their best efforts in improving their business communication strategy. For companies to thrive in this digital era, they must have the desire and the ability to use digital media in the exchange of information.
The best place to drive this agenda is the internal communications department because it holds the power to create superior digital transformation. By regularly discussing the company’s digital business narrative, the employee’s digital agility will improve. It would also help to tailor future messages based on the staff’s existing attitudes and capabilities.
In-person Meetings Still Matter
There is a rapid rise in video conferencing popularity, but its global application doesn’t quite explain what is happening. Many industries are now using video calling solutions, but most workers who are not remote have little reason to do so. People think that video conferencing is the much-needed solution, but there’s a side to it they are yet to see.
Research by the Society of Human Resource Management shows that the switch to remote work is stressful for many employees. It has led to burnout along with feelings of disconnection and isolation. This is because of employees not getting enough of different types of business communication.
For example, remote workers have to rely on video calls and messaging to communicate and miss out on face-to-face communication. Reliance on one mode of communication, in this case, video conferencing, leads to employee fatigue. The participants in the survey said that effective business communication is crucial to the transition to remote work.
This is why it is essential for managers and industry leaders not to do away with face-to-face interactions at the workplace. They should organize work schedules that allow remote workers to come to the office for face to face meetings once in a while. Interacting physically with their coworkers will also promote a feeling of belonging within the company. In return, this will promote sustainability from an employee morale perspective.
Data to Guide Business Communication
Most of a company’s decisions rely on data, and this should also be the case for business communication. For example, in looking at employee communication trends, some organizations have data on employee email open and click-through rates. They also probably check their employees’ most preferred mode of communication. Unfortunately, it stops at that, which should not be the case in 2021.
Consider making use of business communication platforms that make it easy and instant to gain pertinent data. Crucial metrics could include:
- Capturing the communication channels that work best
- Percentage of responsive employees
- Popular days and time for employee communication and from which platform (mobile or desktop)
- Percentage of employees who open and respond to surveys or polls
- Number and nature of interactions like shares, comments, or likes
After data collection, it’s essential to regularly review it and take any necessary steps to improve business communication. For example, if only 40% of employees open and respond to emails containing vital information, you need a new communication tool. The aim is to ensure everyone stays on the same page for the sake of reputation management.
Business communication is fast-changing, and companies have no option but to adapt very fast. They have to rethink their internal employee communication and embrace new communication technologies. The changes must revolve around enhancing customer experience, lest they lose out on attracting and retaining prospects. Above are some communication trends that will shape the business world in 2021. If well implemented, companies will improve their business communication and customer relationship management strategies.