While internal communication is key in all companies, it is absolutely crucial in retail. Because customer service is so important, mistakes made internally may be passed onto customers and seriously damage the company’s reputation. As one of the founders of Home Depot was fond of saying, “If we take care of our associates, they’ll take care of our customers, and everything else will take care of itself.” And part of caring for associates is communicating with them effectively. So what mistakes should you avoid?
1. Not Having a Plan
The first mistake is to not have an internal communication plan in place. As they say, failing to plan is planning to fail. Without a plan, managers may differ widely on how and what they are communicating to employees. Some managers may be providing way too much information, causing employees to feel overwhelmed and disinterested. Other managers may not provide enough information, leaving employees in the dark on important issues.
A solid internal communication plan will lay out the scope of the plan, the communication objectives that should be achieved, the key messages to convey, the audience that should be reached, and the channels that should be used in internal communications. Your plan doesn’t have to be complicated; it just needs to cover the basics.
2. Not Implementing a Plan
The second mistake is failing to implement or share your plan. While it’s wonderful that your company has an internal communication plan in place, it doesn’t do any good if it isn’t implemented. Information shouldn’t trickle down organically from the CEO down – it should be passed down thoughtfully and shared intentionally.
A Harris poll conducted in 2014 revealed that 76% of employees who believe their company communicates valuable information to them rate their company favorably. Similarly, that poll also found that employees who are familiar with the company’s goals are more likely to rate the company favorably than employees who aren’t (71% vs. 39%, respectively). Clearly employees want to be kept informed and to be able to understand what’s going on in their company.
3. Not Embracing a BYOD Policy
The third mistake is to force employees to give up their mobile devices. It’s naïve to think that employees aren’t bringing their own devices with them on a daily basis, even if you have rules in place that forbid it. While you obviously wouldn’t want employees on their devices all day, instead of fighting the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend, use it to your benefit.
How can you do that? By taking advantage of mobile communications. That may be as simple as making sure your newsletter is compatible with mobile devices or as complicated as implementing a mobile friendly enterprise messaging platform. There are a myriad of ways to turn those mobile devices into tools for constructive internal communications, you simply have to find the right one for your company.
As this Fast Company article says, effective internal communication will help your employees become better at their jobs. They’ll feel more involved and will likely care more about the company. In turn, they will care more about providing the best customer service to your customers. Avoid internal communication mistakes and your customers – and employees – will thank you.