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Working together: business communications

Effective communication is an essential part of a smoothly running business organisation. Communication involves the transmission of information from a source (or a number of sources) to receivers. The information is communicated in the form of a message. In the modern organisation, there will be multi-channel flows of communication. For example, a customer may request a new part from a supplier, with information on how to use that part in a piece of equipment. The supplier will then communicate with the customer setting out instructions for using the part, as well as sending a delivery note, invoice, and further sales literature. Increasingly these interactions will be carried out by electronic media such as through a sales website, e-mail communications and other means.

The effectiveness of communications depends on:

  1. The clarity of the message.

2. The quality of the medium used to transmit the message. The medium is the means of communicating e.g. e-mail, telephone, letter, etc.

3. Any distracting ‘noise’ that prevent the message from effectively getting through. For example, if the recipient receives lots of e-mail messages, they may fail to give proper attention to the sender’s message.

3. The ability of the receiver to decode the message. For example, they may not be able to understand the instructions given.

There are two main forms of business communication

  1. Internal communication, i.e. communication within the business.
  2. External communication, i.e. communication outside the business.

Internal communication

Typical forms of internal communication include:

  • Electronic mail. This has rapidly become the most common form of written communication within an organisation.
  • Company websites. A website will typically involve a portal or section dedicated to internal communication with and between employees.
  • Company databases. In most large organisations including banks like Abbey, employees will be able to access a number of company databases e.g. to access details of customers’ accounts when dealing directly with customers.
  • Face-to-face interactions. Dealing directly with other employees in an organisation is a regular occurrence and provides an excellent way for sharing ideas and for working co-operatively. For example, in an Argos store, an essential ingredient of processing customer orders is the interaction between customer service staff. At the Inland Revenue, a major aspect of working together is being ‘approachable and understanding at all times in dealing with colleagues.
  • Meetings can either be of a formal or informal nature. In manufacturing companies like Nissan teams of employees regularly meet to discuss issues about quality.
  • Phone communications are another important form of oral communication with most large companies having a low cost internal telephone system.
  • An internal memo (memorandum) is a short brief message to another member of the same organisation.
  • Typically memos today are sent by e-mail.
  • Staff magazines, notices and posters on staff notice boards provide other means of internal communication. Typical forms of external communication include:
  • Written communication in the form of letters, and advertising material such as leaflets, brochures, posters, etc.
  • Oral communication in the form of phone calls, and direct face to face interactions.

Online communications

Oral communication is very important in service industries and staff in organisations like banks, insurance companies etc are specially trained for such work. Oral communication through call centres is particularly important as a poorly trained operator may lose business millions of pounds worth of sales or customs. Online communications – have become particularly important with the development of e-commerce. Most large companies have commercial websites enabling customers to buy online.

The Inland Revenue has created a website which enables customers to fill in their tax returns online, Cummins the engine manufacturer has an extensive website enabling customers to find out information about servicing and maintaining their engines online. Help is provided to customers through pop-up help facilities. Television advertising – is another important source of visual communication, and companies like Kraft and Cadbury-Schweppes typically launch new products through exciting television advertising campaigns.

The Times 100 is a good example of a modern business that uses online communication to reach its target audience. The Times 100 provides real case studies about leading business organisations both in an online format and in photocopiable resource packs which are sent out to every school in the UK. Today, thousands of students from all over the world study The Times 100 online, browsing and printing off the case studies, examining theory topics, and testing their knowledge through quizzes and activities. A great advantage for the student is that they are rapidly able to access the parts of the resource that most interest them, as well as being able to interact with the resource in the manner that is most suitable to them.

Email – electronic mail carried on the Internet. Oline – being connected to a network – typically on the Internet. You can also refer to a resource being online when it is available on a website. Portal – is a website that leads you to other websites.

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