All of us have endured awful customer experiences of one kind or another. For instance, when I bought a t-shirt recently it wasn’t available in my size, but it was in stock in one of the retailer’s stores about 20 minutes away. The catch was that it would take 7-10 days to bring to the store because the company only made inter-store deliveries this frequently! It was unacceptable service, but they were oblivious. I went somewhere else instead and they lost the sale.
At first glance, communicators aren’t directly involved in such operational activities. However, these all have a strong communication element. In fact, there is a strong argument that operational communication is one of the most important practical communication applications within an organization.
As a communicator, you can become more valuable to your organization or client by observing the customer experience. It is crucial to understand the customer experience throughout the cycle of interactions with them. These interactions are also known as ‘the moments of truth.’
If other departments in your organization don’t review the customer experience, you can volunteer for the role on the basis that it is fundamentally a communication experience. You can follow the path of a typical customer as they interact with the people and functions, online and face-to-face.
(But ensure you don’t put any noses out of joint from areas such as sales, marketing, IT. They may not appreciate you stepping onto their turf and finding weaknesses in their side of things. So clear it with the relevant managers first.)
Then you check how the customer experience aligns with your internal organizational structures, processes and evaluation. Depending on your organizational state of play, you could even interview key customers to identify some of their key concerns – which are often about communication.
In reporting your findings, you can hold a workshop in which you walk your management through the communication at each customer stage to report on what the customer is wanting and thinking, and how your organization is equipped to respond, especially how it communicates with customers along the way.
By Silvia Arto, Vice President of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, Chair of the European Regional
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