Communication: How this affects our work, productivity and our peace of mind.
In the year 2020 with all of the tools and technology, one would think that the days of playing "the telephone game" would be only the way of the past. However, this is still something that transpires in our daily worlds. Communication is the biggest downfall for many companies as we are now in an age of too much communication, so many variable methods, and too many people involved.
We are in a world that is constant and full of information that we need yet cannot get or don't need and see repeatedly. The countless emails that come across where we are cc'd in by a manager of a different department that does not pertain to you or your department. The thought process is: "I was trying to be courteous!" The instant messages and the text message within 5 minutes of each other with the same information. Someone asking a question about something that you have already answered three times within the past 2 hours to different people. Yet, there are times we say, "That happened? Why didn't anyone tell me?"
It is clear that the world is still encountering this same issues with communication regardless of all of the advancements in technology, the reason is human involvement. It makes us less productive, completely annoyed and burnt out. Too much info and yet, not enough.
Just ask? It's that easy? It can be challenging to please everyone as we do not know other's wants, needs, and/or their expectations on communication. There is something that we can do about this: ASK! One does not need to ask every time they come across something minor but asking someone's expectation at a higher level is easy and effective.
Tip: Use one method of communication for contacting someone. Send an internal company instant message and stick to that method for any additional communication pertaining to the topic.
"Our inbound deliveries, would you like to know when that happens? What are you looking at to see when the delivery has been made? Who else is seeing this information and how do they use that information to perform their needed task?"
Simple higher level questions will create a standard that can be used over and over again if you understand the other person's expectations and reasoning behind the information. It will also clarify who is involved in processes and how you can create efficiencies within the organization.
As a transportation provider, it happens many times with manufacturers coming across the telephone game. There are many layers of an organization involved in shipments. Depending on the urgency of a particular order there could be a shipping manager, plant manager, corporate load planner, customer service representative from BOTH manufacturer and purchasing company, inbound buyer, sales rep, supply chain leader; all playing the game of telephone. In an urgent shipment, the Candor client team will ASK our client, WHO needs status updates, WHO needs tracking throughout transit? How often would you like to receive this communication? We have some clients that will allow us to copy in their clients so we have all needed parties on one chain. This eliminates the telephone game. Everyone who is needed on this sees the information, whoever does NOT need the information is either removed after a particular status or not added at all.
Tip: Not everyone wants to receive information in the same way. Ask the preferred method of communication that someone needs to make it effective. A sales rep that is out on the road does not have time to review multiple emails. Things get lost in the shuffle of our work lives and our job functions. Find ways to include individuals with their preferred method of receiving communication. Text messages would be a great way to break the clutter of a sales rep's inbox on an urgent matter. With technology, we can use one tool that will disperse the communication into the proper channel.
If time is money, what is communication? We often hear the phrase "time is money", it is universal thinking that this statement is true. However, communication is a large part of our time, meaning that it is just as costly if not more because it tends to be overlooked as a cost to an organization.
There are so many ways to communicate; internal company systems, reports, emails, calls, dashboards, and the list goes on. Every company operates differently, in transportation we see many different TMS (Transportation Management Software) providers and users. All of them function relatively the same. We have some clients utilizing the same TMS systems yet have different communication requirements that need to be completed within the TMS as well as outside of the TMS with direct levels of communication.
Understanding the clients' expectations when we start our relationship with them makes our internal company process clear to all Candor internal team members. Creating and working off operational procedures that are tailored per client on their needed methods of communication makes the process seamless. It values our clients' most precious resource (employees) to move on to the next thing, saving them the intangible cost of TIME. Limiting your clients' time spent on redundant activities are noticed. Unfortunately, there are no KPIs that come from a customer saying, "thanks for the 100% time savings to our team" but this is noticed. This is one of the underlying reasons why some clients' will continually come to the Candor team. We are cost-effective with their time, as we all know, time is money.
Companies are outsourcing employees in different countries to handle the simple task of gathering information. They are seeing this as a great way to reduce their overhead cost, and they do! This is a great avenue to extend a workforce cost-effectively but when you look at the broken communication channels that a lot of companies have, just how many of those employees are needed? If you are getting effective communication and real-time information fed into your system, there could be a reduction of total company employees.
Tip: Create an implementation team that understands your client's communication needs from the beginning of your relationship. Creating working SOPs within your organization to execute these needed channels, levels, and inputs of communication. The second step is to execute your clients communications needs every time. Making your client not have to chase you for information will make them favor your company. Step three, revisit these quarterly or semi-annually. Things change in organizations making the old method obsolete.
Make suggestions? Really? I should tell my client how to communicate? As a true partner to your customers, the best way to approach your client is by being honest. There is so much information coming to all of us that it is easy for people to overlook your communication and then ask for it again. We are saying in the statements above, time is money, so it is money for your company as well. Ask your client what will work to break through the clutter of communication for them. Create a system where they know specific methods or times to expect the communication so they know when and where to look for it. Approaching your client with a suggestion if it is going to make their job easier will be welcomed.
Tip: Know when to pick up the phone and ask a client how and when they would like communication. Sending emails to make a suggestion on someone else's process could be taken the wrong way. Make sure you are showing the client your intention is truly for their benefit.
It might be a very long time, if ever, that we figure out completely how to align on communication. Taking these small steps internally as well as with external communication can really make an impact. It can make us more productive, less frustrated and help us develop honest working relationships with just putting it out there on what we need, when we need it, and how we would like to receive it.
Author: Nicole Glenn
To learn more about the author please visit www.candorexp.com or to learn more about our communication standards and how it can benefit your company, please contact us 630.480.6798. Candor Expedite is a woman-owned and operated expedite service provider specializing in hotshot ground shipments as well as white glove services nationwide. Focused on service and communication to ensure satisfaction on every shipment handled.