Prompt Communication Led to Better Business: A Case Study
When Amy Greenyard set up her own business, she was determined to present herself to clients in a positive light. To help her, she spoke to a friend in public relations. Between them, they produced a communication policy.
The Policy“A communication policy might not seem a priority for a new business, but it was for me. Too many times in the past, when I worked as an employee, I’d seen people miss business opportunities because of lazy communication practices.
“In my experience, the standard of communication where I used to work was generally okay. But the delays in replying to customers, suppliers, and so on, seemed to me unacceptable.
“Maybe it’s just me, but I have this habit of imagining myself waiting for a response from a business. The longer the wait, the more frustrated I become.
“Let’s face it, business moves at a fast pace these days – or at least it has to if you want to stay ahead. Chasing up enquiries, and waiting around for replies can drag you down.
“When I set up my own business, I therefore resolved to reply to enquiries, requests for quotes, and so forth promptly. Because I also had a small staff group, I wanted them to follow suit. Hence my idea for a communication policy."
Phone“The policy I devised with my friend is simple. It takes the main methods of business communication – phone, email, post, and face-to-face and applies targets to them.
“Take phones, for instance. I expect my staff to answer phones within three rings. If all the phones are busy, I have a system that routes the calls to an answer machine after three rings.
“You’ll note that I don’t use a call queuing system. This is simply another form of communication delay for the caller. I’d much rather invite the caller to leave a message and phone number.
“My system means that staff must check the messages regularly – and they do. When a phone is free, it registers that there’s an outstanding message. A member of staff then takes the message straightaway and returns the call.
“I know some people don’t like leaving messages, but I believe this is better than a queuing system. I’ve run the message service for almost a year now, and I’ve had favourable comments from customers."
“For example, a potential client on the other side of the world sends my company an email enquiry. Allowing for time differences, I ensure the client has a full response within a maximum of 24 hours of the email’s receipt.
“This can pose problems at weekends if an email arrives late on Friday. When this happens, I take responsibility for replying.
“Once again, as with my phone system, I’ve had good feedback from clients. ‘Thank you for your prompt response’ is praise that I welcome."
Post“I don’t receive or send many letters in my business. I do send out the occasional invoice by post, however.
“My timescale for sending invoices is within 24 hours of a client’s purchase. This promptness seems to be catching because I’ve been lucky enough to receive most payments within a reasonable period of time!"
Face-to-Face“When it comes to meetings with clients and suppliers, my communication policy is also specific. If a client or supplier requests a meeting, my staff or I must arrange it to take place within five working days. The average over the past six months has been three days.
“If someone calls me to a meeting, I respond on the same day, and always try to attend. As a client said to me not long ago, this approach has earned me a reputation for efficiency.
In Conclusion“I have deliberately not included communication skills in my policy. My business is such that everyone I employ has to have a proven communication skill anyway. But I can see the relevance of expanding the policy for other industries.
“In conclusion, therefore, I’d say that all businesses should think about introducing a communication policy to suit their needs – and the needs of their customers. I’m convinced that such a policy is a sound business practice. It can also improve your profits.”