Today's professionals have a greater range of business communication tools at their fingertips than ever before. For some people, the sheer volume of options can be dizzying and perhaps even overwhelming. However, these tools offer choice and flexibility in communicating a message. As Marshall McLuhan famously said, "The medium is the message."
When initiating a conversation, the business communication tools themselves can influence the way a message is interpreted. That dynamic can determine whether the result is effective collaboration or awkwardly crossed signals. With that in mind, here are four types of modern communication technology that businesses are using today and how they can best be used to convey a message:
1. Real-Time Interactions
It's common for employees to ask each other quick questions in real-time throughout the work day using business communication tools such as text messaging or video conferencing through a unified communications platform. When doing so, it's always a good idea to consider the communications medium with which the recipient is most comfortable. After all, as anyone who has worked in an office knows, some people are avid texters and others prefer to go old school with a reliable phone call. It's important to factor in the urgency of the conversation — i.e., how rapidly a response is needed and how quickly the recipient is likely to reply using that channel — as well as whether it concerns a fairly typical subject or something that is more sensitive and prone to misunderstanding.
For more immediate and quick exchanges connoting a sense of immediacy with a casual atmosphere, texting and instant messaging are a great way to go. Although text conversations can sometimes appear terse or overly casual to some, they can be enhanced with emojis and images to lighten the mood — a well-timed smiley face or cute cat gif can do wonders for morale. However, nuanced conversations that involve a sensitive or complex message might be best suited to a video chat in which both participants have the benefit of visual cues and even physical objects they can use as props to better understand one another. This is especially valuable for check-ins involving teleworking staff.
2. Social Media
In the social sphere, sending and receiving a message is immediate and intimate. People typically experience these interactions on their smartphones, which they rarely part from and tend to view as an extension of themselves. And when people have a positive interaction on social media, they are delighted. Yet for all the intimacy and the opportunity to make a meaningful connection with a customer, social media is a very public place to have a conversation. It's a venue in which reputation and authenticity matter, especially when giving a referral or serving as a brand advocate. Accordingly, people take close note not only of the message a brand sends, but how it is conveyed.
On the plus side, social media is versatile. Businesses can use text, photos, videos, and links to communicate their messages, which they can then amplify through the use of hashtags and paid advertising. However, tone and timing are everything in the social world, which moves at the speed of light. Examples abound in which businesses have been roasted for tweets that were either poorly timed, tone deaf, or viewed as overly opportunistic. As Mashable reported, Cinnabon faced considerable backlash after it tweeted a tribute to Carrie Fisher that many found to be in poor taste. Companies wanting to avoid such an embarrassing social media fail should have a good sense of the cultural norms on social media and know their audience well before getting too familiar online.
3. Cloud Communication Integrations
Customers expect an excellent customer service experience from the brands with which they do business — no matter which part of the business they may be engaging with at the moment or which communications channel they may be using. They also have little patience for waiting long periods to get the answer they seek. Any of us can relate. Who hasn't rolled their eyes a little upon hearing yet another customer service representative complain that their computer is running slowly?
To circumvent problems like these, companies are finding great value in synchronizing their cloud business applications for greater operational efficiency so that all relevant information can be accessed within a single window. Most commonly, they are integrating their business applications with their business phone service. This lends employees greater confidence, since they have instant access to the data they need without having to clumsily switch between applications. That professionalism comes across positively in exchanges with customers.
4. Contextual Communications
Businesses can deepen their communications reach by further leveraging the power of the cloud. As Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) builds momentum, developers now have access to an array of efficient communication APIs. As a result, they're building real-time communication features such as voice, video, and text messaging into their applications without the need for a complicated infrastructure to support them. For example, a retailer can now make it possible for a customer to call or message customer service directly from within the app rather than having to initiate that exchange separately. The transaction becomes more intuitive and convenient, ensuring a positive customer experience. And it can also provide contextual information about the customer, such as what is in their shopping cart or which tickets they've previously logged, to aid in the speedy resolution of their request.
There are many ways for businesses to have meaningful and impactful conversations, both among their employees and with customers. Companies may find it worthwhile to investigate how today's business communication solutions can increase internal efficiency and enhance customer engagement.
Contact Vonage Business to learn more about how cloud-based communications can aid your company.