Your company needs a strong and efficient internal communications infrastructure no matter the industry you operate within.
Your internal communications network impacts all areas of business, including among workers and clients. Effective communication enhances the overall customer experience, which is vital to maintaining a competitive edge. It ensures your employees are on the same page regarding all matters. This is not only important for production and revenue but also for safety.
Keep reading to learn how today’s advanced telecommunications can be used to create an effective internal communications infrastructure.
Creating an Efficient Internal Communications Infrastructure
Reliable communication is at the heart of your operations. Your infrastructure is likely comprised of computers, smartphones, video conference equipment, various software programs, and other forms of advanced telecommunication tools. The use of such tools allows your employees to communicate with one another as well as with customers. When used correctly, the tools can boost cost-savings, increase productivity, enhance collaboration, and scale with your business on an as-needed basis.
It Starts With Research and Planning
Creating an efficient internal communications infrastructure starts with researching and planning. It also involves looking at your current infrastructure to determine what you have to work with. What does your existing infrastructure have that you can build off of? Are your employees already equipped with smartphones and computers? Do you have video conferencing capabilities? What information is currently being communicated through telecommunication methods? What information is not being communicated and would you like for it to be?
To determine what you have and what you don’t, you can follow this checklist:
- Video conferencing software/application
- Desktop computers
- Laptop computers
- Real-time inventory management capabilities
- Automation software/applications
- Online employee forums
Once you determine what you have and what you don’t, you’ll enter the planning phase. For the various advanced telecommunication capabilities and tools that you don’t have, how do you want to get them? Are you going to buy equipment and tools outright or do you want to pay month by the month for SaaS? How are the new tools going to be integrated into your existing infrastructure? Can the new, advanced telecommunication tools integrate with your legacy systems? What does your budget look like?
All of these questions are key to building a plan that is realistic. It’s also during the planning phase that you need to outline the different problems you want the new infrastructure to solve. More importantly, it needs to outline the “what and why.” What is the problem and why does it need to be addressed? Answering these questions is important when presenting your plan to stakeholders. You have to inform them of why they should spend money on the new infrastructure and how you’re going to do it without impacting the existing business workflow.
Having stakeholders onboard with the implementation of the new internal infrastructure is crucial to creating a positive atmosphere around the entire planning and deployment stages. You need a foundation of support and it starts with stakeholders followed by your employees.
Your employees will want to know why you are changing things up. Depending on the existing infrastructure, your employees will be fully onboard or they may show some resistance. If your current infrastructure is seriously lacking, your employees are probably going to beckon the new changes to be applied as soon as possible.
Choosing Tools and Software Applications
Here’s a look at tools and applications every brand needs to include within their internal communications infrastructure.
Employees already have calendars on their smartphones and computers. What you need, however, is a calendar that syncs everyone’s calendar information in real-time. This ensures everyone is on the same page regarding all aspects of the business. Not only does it help workers stay on top of their own tasks, but it allows them to see when other workers are available to attend meetings.
Imagine being able to log into the calendar, click on a time slot for a certain day and immediately be shown a list of which agents are available to meet with a client. This is superior internal communication at its finest. No more guessing who is available and having to switch or cancel meetings because you ‘thought’ Susy was going to be available on Friday for a client meeting.
All brands can benefit from having an employee basecamp. This is where all projects are hosted, allowing everyone to keep a bird’s-eye view on project progress, deadlines, upcoming projects, and more. Best of all, instead of having to communicate through email regarding each project — which can be incredibly confusing and time-consuming — employees can send notifications within the basecamp application using @mentions. Whether it be telling another worker “great job” or “can you please expedite phase 2 of the project,” a basecamp for your employees makes it simple to organize projects and keeps everyone up-to-date.
If you’re looking for a basecamp-like solution, make sure to check out Basecamp and Airtable, both of which have a vast number of features.
Issue Tracking Software
Connecting and communicating with customers around the clock on an omnichannel basis is key to maintaining a competitive edge. Issue tracking software provides a 360-degree view of customer inquiries and is necessary for your internal communications network. It ensures inquiries aren’t lost and expedites inquiry resolutions. This type of tool allows you to assign tickets with the click of a button to the right employee the first time around.
You’ll enjoy a centralized dashboard for all queries. Agents can track open issues, prioritize tickets, and even collect valuable feedback from customers to improve the customer experience. Agents can also communicate with one another within the application and share notes to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding each and every ticket.
Another pertinent component every company can utilize to build an efficient internal communications infrastructure is an employee forum. Based on the size of the company, you may want to deploy multiple forums, one for each department.
Forums add transparency to your communications network and provide a solution to gaps in your internal communication network. Employees can ask questions and share answers among one another, share valuable knowledge, provide updates on company events, and much more. Discussion forums are known to help bond employees, particularly among remote workforces where employees don’t work side by side. These forums should be designed in a manner that all employees welcome to use them, including those in supervisory, management, and stakeholder positions.
VoIP technology has become extremely advanced over the past decade. Cloud-based VoIP technology makes it easy to utilize a company’s phone system from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection. Imagine being able to receive calls outside of the office through your smartphone when customers make a call to your office number. VoIP systems boast dozens of features, including auto attendant, incoming call routing, call queuing, call recording and more.
VoIP systems can extensively increase worker productivity. Gone are the days of having to answer the phone when someone is simply calling to ask about your store’s hours. No more transferring a customer to four different people. Interactive voice responses answer customers’ questions and allow them to route their calls without ever having to speak to a live agent. VoIP can even be used to conduct video conferences.
Your internal communications infrastructure becomes much more advanced when you integrate a VoIP system. Employees can see who is on hold, who is waiting to be transferred, what their inquiry is, how long they’ve been on hold, and more. Voice recording features are vital to improving the agent and caller experience. You can even use the system to automate surveys at the end of a call. The feedback you collect can be used to further improve the internal and external communication network.
Automation software is vastly available for just about any communication process you can imagine. From email automation to bots on Facebook Messenger, these tools automate communication between employees and customers. You can preset messages to be sent that are triggered by certain behaviors or actions. Imagine your workers being able to communicate with each other while away from their desks. A worker asks another worker a certain question through Messenger. This question triggers an automatic response that has been preset by the worker. This reduces internal communication friction and increases productivity.
Now that you know the types of tools and software applications you need to address gaps in your internal communications infrastructure, it’s now time to choose vendors. A quick online search will likely reveal hundreds of solutions for each problem you face. It’s your responsibility to conduct thorough research to see which vendor is best.
All of the apps and tools mentioned above are great starting points for creating an efficient internal communications infrastructure. The goal is to build a communications network around your business that lets you build your business around the world.