Companies today are experiencing a communications crisis. Sixty-three percent of business professionals report that they experience communications problems with other employees or customers that prevent them from achieving their work goals at least once a week. Fifty-three percent of employees would consider leaving their job over a negative communications exchange, and 13 percent of workers have actually experienced losing a co-worker over a communications issue. Thirty percent of companies have lost customers over communications problems.
As these statistics illustrate, communications problems are pervasive in the workplace, and they can be expensive when they lead to lost employees and customers. Here are three common communication mistakes companies make, along with some proactive strategies for preventing them.
Taking Inefficient Communications Approaches
Bain & Company studied one large enterprise to find out how much productivity time the company lost due to its weekly executive committee meeting. The stunning answer was that the company lost 300,000 hours of productivity a year, including time spent by executives attending the meeting as well as time preparing for the meeting and collecting information for the meeting during supporting team meetings. On average, companies spend 15 percent of their time on meetings, Bain says. Meanwhile, the average worker wastes 3.2 hours a day answering work email, an Adobe study found.
One step companies can take to correct this problem is to minimize meetings. Meetings should be restricted to topics that require decision making about major one-time investments and routine activities that generate significant value over the long term, advises Bain. Following this rule alone can cut out as much of 70 percent of committees and many unessential meetings. In addition, keep meetings focused by structuring them around a set agenda so that all discussion and presentations contribute to that agenda. Finally, only invite people who truly need to attend.
To reduce wasted email time, establish an email answering routine where you only answer email once or twice a day for an allotted amount of time. Consider adopting an email alternative such as Semaphor, an encrypted platform that models communication on social media, which is better-equipped than email to allow teams to share conversations and files.
Using Internal Communications Platforms That Can’t Talk to Each Other
Another communications barrier is trying to communicate between platforms that aren’t designed to interface smoothly. A typical problem with business communications platforms is that they often require all employees to use the same devices and software tools, which isn’t always feasible, says InfoWorld. For instance, video conference participants often get so frustrated trying to connect that they call in separately on the phone to get the audio portion first before trying to connect to the video portion later.
To counter this problem, it’s important to do due diligence in researching cross-platform compatibility when selecting your company’s communications tools and supporting software. For instance, Google Duo is designed to support video conferencing on both Android and iOS devices, in contrast to Apple FaceTime which only works on iOS. Or if you want your call center team to be able to view data from your customer relationship management database while they’re assisting customers, you’re best off choosing a virtual call center solution such as 8×8 Virtual Contact Center, which is designed to integrate with today’s most popular CRM solutions.
Overlooking External Communications Issues
Another major mistake is failing to monitor external communications issues. For example, 30.2 percent of customers feel they should have to wait no longer than 1 to 5 minutes on hold when they call you on the phone, while 27.6 percent are only willing to wait 1 minute, and 32.3 percent aren’t willing to wait at all, Valero says. If you’re not keeping track of how long you’re keeping customers on hold, you could be losing them without even knowing it.
To avoid this type of problem, it’s important to track your external communications. Use analytics tools to track key performance indicators, such as average wait time, average response time, and average resolution time. Set target goals for improving your performance, and track your progress towards your goals so you can measure your success and make adjustments and improvements.