Wednesday, 03 December 2008

The importance of communication skills in business

How often does your interaction with a company's call centre drive you to the opposition? Communication skills are crucial at every level of a business.

Every business has to communicate at various levels.

First is communication between the business and the outside world. Communication with clients is arguable one of the keys to staying in business. Without clients the business may cease to exist. Unless your business is a monopoly where your clients are captives, you have to be able to communicate with clients. Communication begins with your marketing. Marketing is a form of communication where you present your business to the world in a certain light.

The next level of client communication is through the sales force. Your sales force must be able to represent your products and company image accurately to potential clients. A failure on the sales front can cause irreparable damage to the business.

Many companies fail on the third level of client communication. Support for the products and product failures. Little time and effort is invested in the call centre where consultants are all too often under-trained and incompetent. The call-centre is the businesses communication to the world. A good call centre consultant is able to retain a client even where past service has been bad. A bad consultant can lose almost any client!

Also in the realm of communication with the outside world is communication with stakeholders, other businesses and the media. These areas of communication are crucial. Appropriate communication skills are required to represent the company to the world through the media. Stakeholders may include shareholders, government and other interested parties.

From time to time it may be necessary to use other business to provide services for the company. In a typical scenario, a firm of consultants is brought in to achieve specific objectives. Three years and many millions of dollars later, the consultants are removed in disgrace. The failure is often one of communication. The consulting firm is brought in and left to intuit the requirements. The actual objectives are not communicated to the company and the executive never have time to meet the consultants. Proper communication includes carefully specifying the requirements and discussing the expected outcomes. Lines of communication must be open to manage the project effectively.

Internal communication plays as important a role in running an effective business. The most important principles here are the ability to communicate requirements effectively and accurately. Lines of communication must be open. Secrecy is the enemy of effective communication and may lead to misunderstandings and mistrust.

Effective communication skills are required at all levels. These include both oral and written communication skills. Presentations must be clear and to the point. A skilled negotiator is able to listen effectively. Reports should be concise, accurate and readable. Errors and failures of an organisation are often the result of miss-communication, or even the total absence of communication. When it comes to the business's window to the world the call centre ensure that the consultants are able to communicate. They must be able to listen, and their responses should be backed by genuine knowledge.

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