Business communication is the process of sharing information between people within and outside a company.
Effective business communication is how employees and management interact to reach organizational goals. Its purpose is to improve organizational practices and reduce errors.
The importance of business communication also lies in:
Presenting options/new business ideas
Making plans and proposals (business writing)
Sending and fulfilling orders
All organized activity in a company relies on the process of business communication. This could be anything from managerial communication to technical communication with vendors.
And once communication becomes unclear, the company’s core systems risk falling apart. Data shows that 60% of internal communications professionals do not measure internal communications. Potential reasons include not knowing where to start, the next steps, or how to calculate ROI.
If you feel the same, consider this:
Strong business communications in a company will likely result in higher employee engagement.
Companies with an engaged workforce see a 19.2% growth in operating income over a 12-month period. Those with low engagement scores earn 32.7% less.
How much more successful would you be if you had better employee engagement?
And how can you ensure a business communication process that will make it possible?
Types of Business Communication
Let’s first differentiate the main types of communication in a typical organization.
First, we have internal business communication.
Internal business communication can be:
Upward communication: any communication that comes from a subordinate to a manager. Or from another person up the organizational hierarchy.
Downward communication/Managerial communication: anything that comes from a superior to a subordinate.
Lateral communication/Technical communication: internal or cross-departmental communication between coworkers
Then, there is external business communication.
External business communication is any messaging that leaves your office and internal staff. It involves dealing with customers, vendors, or anything that impacts your brand.
You can sort all communication in this spectrum into four types of business communication.
1.Getting and receiving instructions and assignments both upward and downward. This includes an effective delegation from one person to another. Most problems in business begin with unclear communications in this area.
2.Sharing and discussing information, including information sharing that goes on in meetings. When communication fails in this area, it causes tasks to be done improperly or not at all.
3.Giving feedback, correction, and discipline to people who report to you so that they can have the knowledge and the tools that they need to do their jobs better. Giving great, actionable feedback is a key skill for anyone in a leadership position. Non-verbal communication and body language also play a role here.
4.Problem-solving and decision-making meetings and discussions. These are considered among the most important discussions for any organization. This involves higher critical thinking and better communication technology.
Methods of Business Communication
When business communication actually happens, it’s either verbal or written.
Furthermore, communication takes place either in person/face-to-face or remotely.
Neither of these are better or worse for your company on their own and entirely depends on the context.
Written communication is great for keeping a paper trail of decisions and actions made as well as for putting together strategies and plans in place. Verbal interactions enable instantaneous idea generation and a more open flow of thoughts.
Some companies are in a single office. Some have offices in various time zones. Others are fully remote and don’t have a physical location (Buffer and Zapier are great examples of location-independent companies). These are the methods of business communication applicable to some or all of the above scenarios:
This includes everyday communication channels like emails and instant messaging applications (such as Slack, Hangouts, or even Nextiva Chat).
The benefits of emails and messages lie in the ability to lead private conversations in a busy office environment, as well as sharing a message with many people—from a few to hundreds—all at once.
2) Telephone meetings
Phones removed the location barrier to running productive, fast-moving meetings. It allows for better idea exchange thanks to the non-verbal communication (tone of voice) compared to written communication. Cloud phone systems can accelerate onboarding and overall team collaboration.
3) Video conferencing
Great video conferencing systems enable people at remote locations to run meetings that feel as close to in-person meetings as possible. They take phone meetings one step up.
4) Face-to-face meetings
In-person meetings can help a business move forward with ideas quickly. Research shows that in-person meetings generate more ideas than virtual meetings.
However, having a rock-solid meeting agenda is essential for effective meetings. 46% of employees rarely or never leave a meeting knowing what they’re supposed to do next.
5) Reports and official documents
Documenting activities that impact other people and departments is a crucial part of a well-oiled business communication system.
The ability to refer to a written document at any moment reduces the chance for confusion or disagreement and provides extra clarity in communication.
Presentations supported by reports and PowerPoint slide decks are often how meetings with larger groups are conducted.
These are great for sharing new ideas in a way that creates space for questions and any clarifications.
7) Forum boards and FAQs
An internal area for employees to refer to frequently asked questions on various departmental topics and to ask new ones that will make them more productive and up-to-date on a matter.
Both internal and customer surveys are an ideal way to gather feedback and ratings on important topics. Surveys facilitate a healthy cycle of feedback-supported improvements and open a communication channel between all levels inside an organization.
9) Customer management activities
This can include any customer relations activity. Examples include live chat support, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, customer onboarding process, customer reviews, and more.
The next logical question you probably have is:
Which Business Communication Methods Does My Business Need?
The answer largely depends on the size and preferences of your business. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. One thing is for sure: you will set yourself up for success by only using business communication methods you need and will actually use.
You want a forum board, so you and your staff spend weeks finding the best solution and setting it up.
After a while, you learn that no one is using it because they get their answers quicker from their team or documents. An unnecessary solution has cost you valuable time and money.
Or you install a quality video conferencing system, when in reality you only need a reliable business phone system to run your remote meetings.
Every business will use web-based communication. All the other methods, however, will depend on individual company circumstances. Take the time to mindfully consider the value of each for your unique situation.