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4 Common Business Communication Failures to Avoid

Poor communication can be inefficient and expensive for businesses. In fact, ineffective communication and lack of collaboration cause workplace failures. Forty-six percent of employees say they regularly receive unclear or confusing directions, with 36 percent experiencing this problem up to three times a day, resulting in 40 minutes a day of lost productivity, an HR Magazine study found. This means that if you’re not communicating efficiently, you’re effectively paying for your employees to take an extra 40-minute break every day, adding up to 3.5 lost hours every week or 200 lost hours annually. Here are four common communications mistakes that may be cutting into your productivity and your profits, along with some tips on how to avoid them.

Using Inefficient Collaboration Strategies

Using inefficient methods to collaborate is one of the biggest and most expensive ways companies waste time at work. American workers spend less than half their time on primary work duties, a Harris Poll study found. Forty percent of work time is spent on meetings, administrative tasks and interruptions. Another 14 percent of time is spent answering emails.

To combat this problem, there are several steps companies can take. One is to spend meeting time more efficiently by holding fewer meetings, keeping them shorter and more focused, and only inviting attendees who truly need to attend. Another is to substitute other communications methods for meetings whenever possible. A third is to use more efficient collaboration tools than email. For instance, to overcome the inefficiencies of email, many employers have turned to unified communication tools such as Slack, which abandons the email paradigm in favor of a communications interface modeled on social media, which is better designed to share messages and files with large groups of people at a time.

Combining Incompatible Platforms

Another problem that can arise is when employees try to communicate over platforms that don’t integrate well with each other. For instance, if an employee using Apple FaceTime is trying to hold a video conference with another employee using an Android device, they’re going to have a frustrating experience. Similarly, the unified communications tools in Microsoft’s Office 365 are notoriously incompatible from one platform to another, InfoWorld says, despite of the fact Microsoft Office for Mac exists.

Avoid frustrations by using a communications platform that integrates the tools your employees need to use. For instance, if you’re running a virtual call center and you’re using a popular customer relationship management tool such as Salesforce to keep track of your customers, a good communications solution is 8×8’s Virtual Call Center, which integrates smoothly with today’s leading CRM tools.

Failing to Analyze External Communications

In addition to suffering from internal communications efficiency issues, many companies are losing customers due to external communications problems, often without being aware of it. For example, a PH Media poll found that 45 percent of American consumers aren’t willing to wait on the phone over a minute. Meanwhile, American Express found that consumers who wait more than 12 minutes reach their boiling point, which happens 69 percent of the time.

To address this, it’s vital to monitor your external communications. Use analytics tools to gather vital data such as how many calls you receive a day, how long your customer has to wait before reaching a representative and how long it takes to resolve issues. Set goals for improving your performance in these types of areas, and monitor your performance so you can make adjustments.

Allowing Excessive Downtime

You can lose customers through poor online communications habits as well. One online problem that can plague businesses is server downtime. A Peer1 study found that nine in 10 companies have unexpectedly lost access to their critical online systems, and a third of businesses deal with this on a monthly basis. Downtime results in a 34 percent drop in productivity for large enterprises and 43 percent for small businesses. For one is six companies, an hour of downtime translates into a loss of over $1 million.

Avoid excessive downtime by choosing your hosting provider carefully. Providers measure high availability uptime guarantees in terms of “nine.s” For instance, a server that is only up 90 percent of the time would be one nine, equivalent to 2.4 hours of downtime a day or 36.5 days a year, while a server with 99.999 percent uptime would be five nines, equal to 864.3 milliseconds of downtime a day or 5.26 minutes a year.

Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.

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