In a social world, businesses are social organisations. Within any organisation, there is a maze of pathways along which communications travel. Imagine the endless conversations, meetings, letters, memos, electronic transmissions and receipts of messages between people each day. For example, during a typical morning in a busy office, you might expect to:
- write a letter in response to a customer enquiry
- receive 3 telephone calls, one of which requires you to phone back after consulting your line manager to clarify some details
- check your electronic mailbox for e-mails
- attend a departmental meeting
- discuss the new holiday arrangements with colleagues over morning coffee
- read the latest team brief for staff
- write and send an urgent message to another office by fax
- talk face-to-face to two clients.
Most of the morning will, in fact, have been spent communicating with other people. In every organisation, employees spend a large proportion of every working day communicating. It is estimated that people working in offices spend as much as two thirds of each working day communicating in one form or another.
Effective communications are, therefore, vital to any business or organisation. They are a foundation stone upon which their activities and functions depend. Communications provide an essential link between employees of an organisation and its customers, between employees and other employees, between employees and employers as well as between an organisation and all of the stakeholders involved with the business either formally or informally. Although the structure and effectiveness of any organisation is almost entirely influenced by the way it communicates, it is very easy to take communications for granted.
On 21st April 1997, the Alliance and Leicester changed from being a mutual building society to a public limited company, listed on the London Stock Exchange. This study not only provides an audit of Alliance and Leicester’s many different communication systems but also provides a comprehensive analysis of the nature and purpose of communications and illustrates how the process of communication within a large organisational structure can be developed to build a better and more successful business.
The Alliance & Leicester is a major financial services group dedicated to the provision of a range of personal financial products for customers. Its objective is to provide customers with a comprehensive range of mortgage, investment and insurance products, cash transmission services and commercial banking facilities that are high in quality and competitive in price. The Alliance & Leicester has more than five million customers living in the UK, plus many expatriates throughout the world.
Alliance & Leicester’s broad range of financial products has been designed to meet the needs of customers throughout their lives, from cash card accounts to investment accounts, insurance and pension products. Products are available through a wide range of distribution channels. For example, Girobank, acquired by the Alliance & Leicester in 1990, was the first telephone bank in the UK. Today, more Alliance & Leicester customers are able to use a full 24-hour telephone and postal banking facility than with any other bank or building society in the UK. Products and services are also available through Alliance & Leicester’s branch network and through the 8,800 ATM machines in the LINK network, by post or at almost 20,000 post offices. This range of access points means that Alliance & Leicester uses a wide network of communication whenever and wherever it best suits the needs of customers.