In order to increase efficiency and productivity wherever you are, simplify IT management, find user-friendly solutions, and stimulate employee motivation, organizations have turned to internal communications software.
It’s an obvious solution – today’s communication tools are enabling small, medium-sized, and large companies to achieve all of the above and even more.
Business communication tools addresses the most important question – What are some top internal communication problems that organizations face – and solves them.
Here are 11 business communication tools that you can get started with today.
Every organization goes through a phase or transition where it becomes clear its internal communications are failing.
Too often with your IT department, the approach is to press forward with technology without asking why it’s being done. By looking out for a few symptoms within your organization, you can gauge what type of software or tools will improve how members communicate.
Some of these symptoms include:
A central portal where everybody can access all relevant information, communications, documents, and contracts in one place … no matter where they are.
Social intranet software makes this possible while saving your business money by lowering IT maintenance costs. In the age of BYOD and telecommuting, an intranet solution cultivates a more flexible workforce ... which increases productivity by aligning all employees toward the same goals.
Employees and project teams need collaboration tools to help them work together more efficiently. Without a platform to collaborate, it becomes difficult for members to share ideas and keep tabs on group progress. Emails often get lost, unread, or threads become frustratingly long. Providing an easy way for your teams to communicate brings members together and helps them be more productive.
Look out for these symptoms:
Private and group messaging applications eliminate the need for emails and are the perfect business communication tools to keep teams working together. These features are important when team members need to discuss work.
This is especially important when employees are spread across geographical locations in different time zones. While public spaces like Facebook Groups may work, dedicated intranet chat services ensure everyone is just a tap away. They can also be used to share files (with a drag-and-drop function) and search for contacts or past conversations.
Your overall business performance will not be as successful as it could be if you do not have an efficient task management tool. Combining strong communication features with assignment tracking capabilities, a task management tool will transform the way staff completes the most vital aspect of your company: their jobs.
Without a strong project management system in place, projects could be a confusing, timely process for team members who are unsure about what they should be doing. These issues further escalate when management doesn't have a direct way to monitor progress, thus detaching them from the situation.
Watch out for these symptoms:
A task management feature is one of the most effective business communication tools because it solves all of the above problems. From execution to completion, task management software helps employees and directors reach their goals as efficiently and successfully as possible. Managers can directly assign tasks to team members and track their progress. They can also set due dates and priority settings, which appears in an organized list for everyone involved.
Task management, with built-in communication tools, helps employees know who is delegating an assignment, when it is due, and the level of importance so they can plan projects accordingly.
Today's customer wants the ability to connect with you across a variety of channels. The problem is that there are no tools that offer a 360-degree approach to customer support and service. Customer queries are generally lost, call volumes go up, and the inability to assign the right employees to handle customer queries leaves many customers frustrated.
Issue tracking software is one of the best internal communication tools to manage customer queries. Customers or employees can submit a case or ticket, get it assigned to the right employee, and have it resolved on time.
Cases, issue tracking, and ticketing software helps centralize customer support queries, track open issues, monitor team productivity, prioritize the most important questions, and collect valuable customer feedback that helps improve your products and services.
The common saying is "people eat with their eyes." When your content looks good, people will want to read it. Great content will be the defining indicator as to whether your internal teams will be engaged or not. If you have low engagement from employees, little or no feedback, and an increasing ratio of lurkers to active participants, the type of content you post is likely the problem.
The symptoms include:
The brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text. Therefore, it’s a no brainer that images and videos in your digital workplace will get more traction from your employees.
Posting training videos, messages from top-level managers, or culture videos in your company intranet will increase engagement and retention among employees. When it comes to image-focused content, infographics are another great way to display important information. Particularly for data, timelines, or explaining complicated topics, infographics will simplify information in a catchy and engaging way.
Creating training videos, videos messages from top-level managers, behind-the-scenes footage, and then posting them across the company intranet is likely to increase engagement and retention among employees.
Infographics are especially suited for marketing departments and for demonstrating and explaining processes. They are visually appealing and help communicate instructions quickly and easily.
Determining where you need improvements is difficult when you do not have an accurate way to analyze information. Often, internal communications staff will manually monitor and log information into an excel sheet, when they could be spending time doing other work. Or perhaps a company does not have an analytics tool at all.
Your intranet is an investment into your business communication efforts. Therefore, it's important to monitor employee engagement and track what is benefiting your company the most.
An analytics and sentiment feature is one of the most effective business communication tools to evaluate user behavior. You'll never have to wonder how many members are reading an article, commenting on a forum post, or their overall feedback about content.
This data automatically stores into a comprehensive report. Determine what content is working and what isn't. You can also dive deeper into Q&A posts to understand how many people have the same questions. Gathering this information helps you to make necessary tweaks to improve your internal communication tools.
Sharing information in the workplace is vital for internal growth and community. Veteran workers can orient new employees on what’s what within an organization, helping them get up to speed quickly and with fewer mistakes along the way. At the same time, a digital workspace where employees can ask questions, discuss projects and workplace issues helps bond everybody within the organization.
Here are some symptoms to look out for:
A discussion forum that encourages management and employees to openly discuss any topic.
Discussion forums disseminate internal knowledge and brings everybody closer together. They are also great for archiving all organizational knowledge – sometimes conversations drives the most valuable ideas. Now, all those thoughts are stored and accessible for your entire organization.
When departments or branch locations do not have their own space to share pertinent information, internal communications can be a jumbled experience. Department heads do not have an organized way to share information with employees in their division, and employees within that division do not have a designated place to find the information. This also isolates departments from each other, leading to an all-around disconnected company.
Spaces are the best communication tool to divvy important content, files, and people into one livable place. You can create a space for anything – an HR department or an office based in Austin, TX.
Set permissions to designated individuals who can disseminate information and monitor the space. Members within a space can share photos, create forums, and receive notifications about every update without overwhelming their inboxes.
Creating and sharing valuable content is useless if members do not know about it. Many times, businesses already have the materials and dedicated staff, but lack a strong software to deliver and connect.
In these instances, companies rely on emails, but there are many situations where a social form of communicating is more appropriate and effective than an email.
Imagine this: you want to notify staff about an updated HR policy. You send an email and receive some responses. But what about the employees you haven't heard from? Did they read the email and the HR update? Did they ignore the email entirely? And now, the dozen emails you did receive is taking up unnecessary space in your inbox.
An alerts and notification tool will make the world of a difference for your internal communications strategy. Notify staff about company-wide announcements, or send department-targeted updates in a noninvasive, direct way. Members will instantly receive notifications about any space they are members of.
Business communication tools centralize conversations between colleagues in one place. Staff will never have to worry about missing an email from a customer or external contact. A quick, automatic notification alerts members about important information you want to share within your platform.
To make your business communication as connected as possible, you want your staff to know each other. Whether a company is large or small, if a member does not know the people and roles within your organization, communicating about a specific topic, or asking questions is difficult.
Employee profiles provide context about each person within your organization. Members can read-up about specific individuals, understand their role, interests, and who they report to. This alleviates confusion when a staff member needs to contact a specific individual.
Furthermore, profiles put a name to a face; your employees are people and should be treated as such within your internal communications.
It doesn’t matter if you manage a team of two or 25, everyone can agree: we’re all busy. Too often teams are waiting on feedback from busy managers, who barely have time for lunch. This can delay projects from completing on time – an annoyance for everyone involved. It also puts teams in uncomfortable positions, wondering how long and often they should remind managers about projects awaiting approval.
A workflow tool implements an organized system for your entire company to handoff and approve projects. When employees complete a project, the supervisor is notified immediately (an added bonus: alerts are sent in a direct, noninvasive way without email.)
The project can get passed to as many supervisors as you wish and every member is looped in throughout the entire process. Workflows are seamless and easy – they empower your members to create content shareable for your company.
When equipped with these 11 business communication tools, you are better positioned to improve efficiency, engagement, and knowledge sharing in the workplace.
Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.
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