Internal Communication – Benefits and Problems

Social CRM is about communication. Both internally and externally. It’s not just about tweeting. If your company doesn’t have its act together on internal communication, then how can you possibly expect to be able to effectively deliver your message to the outside world? At Zurmo, we believe too many companies think Social CRM is about something sexy that can be wrapped up in 140 characters. It’s not. It starts with something not so exciting. Getting your internal communication in order. That is the priority of our development roadmap and it is the subject of this blog post. Disclaimer: If you are looking for the external aspect of social CRM, you will not find it in this post.

Ask companies to explain their communications strategy and they will typically focus on external communication with their customers: email, telephone, mass email marketing campaigns, etc..  Of course it is external communication that generates revenue, promotes brand awareness, and customer loyalty.  However, the importance of an effective internal communications strategy is often just as important to the bottom line, but can easily be overlooked.

Benefits of good internal communication

Having a clear internal communications strategy can offer many benefits to businesses. These are some points taken from 4imprint’s “Blue paper on Internal communication“:

  • Increased productivity
  • Higher probability of achieving organizational goals
  • Ability to approach situations, problems or crises proactively
  • More effective and responsive customer service
  • Empowered employees who take stock in your organization
  • A better workplace understanding of organizational values and purpose
  • Smarter decision-making on all levels, reducing the need for micro-managing
  • Reduced day-to-day conflict between team members
  • Higher employee retention rates

Common causes of poor internal communication

Carter McNamara describes well the common causes of problems in internal communications in his paper on “Basics in Internal Organizational Communications“.  Some of the most common beginnings of internal issues arise from eight main mentalities:

  1. If I know it, then everyone must know it.
  2. We hate bureaucracy — we’re “lean and mean.” – why follow a communications strategy
  3. I told everyone, or some people, or …?
  4. Did you hear what I meant for you to hear?
  5. Our problems are too big to have to listen to each other!
  6. So what’s to talk about?
  7. There’s data and there’s information.
  8. If I need your opinion, I’ll tell it to you.

If you are interested in the subject I recommend you read the full paper. Otherwise, it is fair to say that companies exhibiting more than one of the eight mentalities above will likely demonstrate a reactive rather than proactive strategy for future planning.

Internal Communication tools

Which tools you use to communicate and collaborate within your organisation will depend on the make-up of your team and the goals you need to achieve.  Increasingly, people work remotely or can work abroad, meaning they are available at different times.  Maybe you just need to get a message out to your team or perhaps you require feedback or collaboration on an idea. Here are some tools that can be of use:

  • Email
  • Telephone
  • Instant Messaging
  • Forums
  • Blogs
  • Twitter
  • Social Networking

Each tool above has its own advantages over the other. Right now, we here at Zurmo use a combination of the tools above to inform each other of what we are working on, share ideas, and solve problems.  But there are a couple of challenges, especially for organisations that are not working on a community lead open source project like we are.

Security and Data Retention

Security leaks are a big deal. Using Twitter or other social networking platforms for internal communication can be brought with danger. You certainly would not want to share sensitive data or unfavourable personal opinions about clients across an open social platform!

This is why people often resort to email, but even then it is easy to accidentally include someone on an email that you had not intended to include. I know in the past I have emailed the wrong “Donna” and had an email back from a client asking me why I contacted her about the pool car?

And even if you don’t fall fail of the pit holes above, wouldn’t it be nice if you could retain that information somewhere meaningful or even share it with others?

Zurmo Solution?

Here at Zurmo we realised that most modern CRMs were not tackling these problems. Instead, you could argue that they focus on other features of the CRM, leaving communication to the tried and tested platforms of email and phone….communication that all too often doesn’t find its way into the system.

However, we believe that collaboration, communication, and recording information directly into the CRM platform is key to its adoption and ultimately its success.  Find out how Zurmo will use its Conversations and Missions platforms to offer an easy and sensible alternative to existing communication tools in our next blog.

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