Sunday, January 29, 2017

Removing Communication Barriers at the Workplace

A number of managers attribute "communication gap" as one of the main reasons for their wrong decisions. In fact, wrongly interpreted or misunderstood messages and information can wreck a havoc in workplace relationships also. Though unintentional factors may contribute to such wrong interpretations or misunderstandings, the individuals involved may have to undertake time-consuming damage control exercises once the damage is done. 

But what can be the barriers that may hamper effective communication? The main barrier for effective communications is not using the right gestures, tone, symbols and words. Of course, the communicator should also take into account the capabilities of the receiver in comprehending the information or the message. Let us now look at some of the ways to remove communication barriers.

Use simple language

Use simple words for communicating your message because not everyone will understand complex language. Point-wise presentation of the message will help in communicating clearly. Long letters, verbose messages and cluttered presentations may make the information incomprehensible. Similarly, avoid adding points that are irrelevant as well. 

The language you use should go well with the audience to whom you are sending out your message. In other words, the language you use should suit their levels of comprehension. 

Avoid information overload

Many people have a notion that they can convey a message with clarity only if they provide lots of information. This is wrong because the receiver will not even look at the message if there is information overload in it. Not only that, experts have found that the level of understanding will come down if the reader has to devote more time for reading a letter. Similarly, if the reader is expected to come out with more number of responses or actions, it will create a confusion over the priorities of responses or actions also.

Take into account the priorities of the receivers

Every manager or executive attaches a lot of value to his time. Likewise, he will have his own priorities as well. This means he will give preference to his tasks and priorities rather on the information or messages he receives from others. Even if the messages are marked as top priority or urgent, the receiving manager may not read them thoroughly because his priorities are different and he thinks that his time is highly valuable. 

Consider the emotions of the receivers

Experts categorically opine that emotions can cause huge craters in communications. For example, threatening words may cause emotions like fear, resentment, anxiety or anger in the receivers. These emotions may force them to behave unpredictably. There are chances of relationships going soar. Use of such words may result in legal issues also. 

Therefore, you should keep your emotions in check while communicating with others in your workplace. Even if you are not pleased with the work or performance of others, you must use subtle ways to communicate your mind.

Don't have pre-conceived notions

When you send a message and expect responses from the receivers, it is better not to have pre-conceived notions. Similarly, when you expect a message or request from others, don't pre-determine your response without knowing fully well about the content of the message or request. This will make the senders "communication shy." Once people around you become "communication shy," you cannot get their opinions or suggestions. This may hamper the decision-making process in your organization.

To summarize, if you understand these communication barriers and remove them as quickly as possible, you can create a conducive ambiance in your workplace.

Friday, January 27, 2017

How to Make Your Workplace Dialogues Pleasant

The purpose of workplace dialogues is not only for communicating but for gathering the required information and sharing ideas, feelings and thoughts as well. But you cannot always have smooth dialogues because you may be dealing with different types of people with different traits. Some people may differ from you and quite often, conversations may turn hostile. But remember that such conversations may cause stress which in turn may affect your health and also your productivity. Also remember that having smooth and pleasant dialogues at the workplace is possible, regardless of whatever may be the situation. Let us have a look.

Handling negotiations

Behavioral science says that it is easy to influence those who have a liking for you. You should therefore try to make people including your opponents like you. The best strategy for this is to find out the interests that are common to you and them. Never forget the old adage "birds of the same feather flock together." Common interests will create a bond between you and them. The goodwill created will improve the trustworthiness and this may help in negotiating successfully.

Another way is to discover relevant points using which you can heap praises on those with whom you are negotiating. This tactic can tilt the negotiations in your favor.

Handling conflict signs

When you conduct meetings, there are chances of conflicts and disagreements erupting. But if you allow them to become major issues, the very purpose of conducting the meetings will get defeated. So, regardless of whether the difference of opinion is with your boss, your peer or subordinate, you must make it a point to use your words carefully. Remember how a copywriter chooses his words for communicating his message. Never try to show that you know everything. Also be careful not to undermine the self-esteem of other participants. Present your points as valuable information without using the tone of arguing. When you present your data with clarity as a copywriting expert does, others may be able to view things with new perspectives that they may have overlooked. This may lead to agreements.

How to do your online marketing

Online marketing may involve a lot of interactions with clients. Never think that clients are asking silly questions. You are in the field and hence, you may be aware of the features of your products or services. On the other hand, your clients may be literate lay people and so, may not know fully well about the products or services you are offering. Therefore, chances of silly questins emanating from your clients are there. You must answer the queries clearly and with patience.

How to share a not-so-encouraging situation or trend

If you think that a particular situation or trend is not encouraging, don't rush to your boss and break the news. Instead, do an in-depth analysis and test the veracity of your discovery. Your way of communicating and the timing of sharing the information are important. You must break the news only when your boss is in a relaxed mood. Not only that, you must have some viable ideas for surmounting the situation. Your boss will not only be receptive to the news but will appreciate you for your ideas. 

Similarly, if you are at the receiving end of some bad news, you must be patient while hearing the information. Workplace dialogues become unpleasant only because people become impatient while listening to others. Due to impatience while listening, you may miss out on some vital information. This may terribly affect your decision making process. On the other hand, if you are patient and listen carefully, you may get all the necessary information that will go a long way in helping you make the right decisions.

Interactions with clients

Like employees, clients may also be of various types. Some clients may show their anger even for trivial things. So, you should develop your skills for dealing with clients. Apart from remaining composed, you must ensure to adopt inoffensive ways to deal with them. When clients raise an issue, request them to give you an opportunity to correct the situation. Tell them in a polite tone that your aim is to satisfy them fully and that you will never leave any step untried for achieving this aim. In short, the clients should be so impressed that they realize that only if they cool down, the issue can be resolved. Simply put, the focus of your approach should be to win their trust back and simultaneously, make them understand that.

To summarize, there are chances of conflicts erupting at the workplace but you must not allow yourself to be consumed by negative emotions. If you allow it, you may not be able to communicate properly and this will ultimately worsen the situation and cause you more stress. If you feel that your emotions may overpower you, resort to the age-old practice of taking a deep breath. Lungs full of oxygen may help you calm down so you can think in the right perspective.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Give a Boost to Your Marketing Efforts by Adopting the Right Strategies for Customer Retention

A number of business owners commit the mistake of focusing more on expanding their client base rather than on retaining their clients. In other words, for them, adding new clients alone is synonymous with marketing. They should realize that retaining their existing customers is as important as acquiring new clients.

A study by Bain & Company reveals that on an average, the expenses incurred for attracting new customers are seven times higher than what is spent on keeping them. Not only that, if you are able to retain only 5% of your existing customers on an annual basis, your profits will increase by 125%. In short, retention efforts do yield results even in the long term and you will be able to build your business more efficiently.

This means you must create smart retention strategies for retaining your existing customers and also for converting your new clients into loyal and long-term customers. In short, right strategies will help you earn more by spending less. 

The following suggestions may help you put in place an effective customer retention program.

1. Have an efficient CRM system

By having an efficient CRM system, you can track the effectiveness of your communications with your customers. Though an automated CRM system that consists of customized messages pertaining to issues, product information, etc. may be preferable, things should be manually monitored also because you may have to address the specific issues many of your customers may have. In other words, an efficient CRM will help in customer retention.

2. Move up retention in your priority list

You should accord more priority to retention than to acquisition. This means you should increase your budget for communicating effectively and purposefully with your existing customers. Hesitating to hire competent copywriters for crafting high-quality emails, messages, ads, press releases and other forms of communications may prove to be an expensive mistake. Copywriting professionals alone will understand the needs of your customers and craft contents suitably. Your marketing team should also be educated suitably for focusing on the existing clients with an aim to retain them as loyal customers.

3. Have a system for measuring customer value

You should have a system for measuring the lifetime value of your customers. This means instead of focusing on individual sales, use your database for measuring the total sales you get from every customer. Details such as frequency of their purchases, the monetary value of the purchases they make, etc. will help in determining their lifetime value. But at the same time, do not commit the mistake of ignoring the value of small customers. Remember that the present-day world is highly connected. Dissatisfied customers can spread about it through word-of-mouth as well as word-of-mouse.

The purpose of knowing the lifetime value of customers is to determine how much you must invest in your retention efforts for those with high lifetime value.

4. Customer service is very important

Customer retention is possible only if you focus on customer service. You and every employee working for you should have powers to make on-the-spot decisions for ensuring customer satisfaction. Employees should not delay handling the problems of customers. Remember that by delaying action on the issues faced by customers, you will be sending them away to your competitors.

5. Communicate frequently with your customers

Keep in constant touch with your customers. Send them messages about upcoming sales, offers, etc. You can also send “thank you” notes along with coupons for ensuring you get repeat business from them. Again engaging the services of a competent copywriter is very important for communicating effectively. But do not commit the mistake of irritating them by sending unsolicited emails.

6. Make the best use of social media

If you think that social media is just for pushing your messages or sending your likes, you are wrong. You can engage your customers and communicate with them effectively through social media. By sharing, commenting and thanking people, you can use these platforms effectively. It is not necessary that you must be on all the platforms. Be choosy but make the best use of them.

7. Every issue is an opportunity

Every issue you may face may have a kernel of opportunity in it. So, delve deep into every issue and find out the ways to improve yourself, your business and your products and services.

If you keep your focus on customer retention, you will get several ideas. You can implement the most suitable ones and derive the best benefits of your online marketing efforts.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Create a fun environment at the workplace to increase productivity

In the present-day context, we allow our official life to dominate our personal space and this takes a toll on our health. Especially, work-related drudgery can wreck a havoc. So, it has become imperative that we have to find out ways to increase our efficiency and productivity so we bestow enough attention on our personal life as well. Studies have clearly revealed that if we have a fun environment at our workplace, our productivity will go several notches up.

In other words, we should willingly go to our workplace. Only if the ambiance in the office is fun, we will be eager to go to office. Otherwise, we may try to find some reason or the other to escape from the workplace ambiance.

It is unfortunate that even some of the so-called great business leaders do not accept the fact that fun environment in the office will improve the productivity of the employees. These leaders have a notion that people will naturally and automatically enjoy the workplace.  Especially, most of the HR managers wrongly believe that by creating a fun environment in the office, companies will be draining their limited financial resources.

These HR managers also think that such an environment may make the employees lax and the employees may break the basic rules that govern etiquette or may cross the thin line that separates decency and vulgarity.

But HR people will do well if they realize that if employees are suitably trained to use the fun environment of the office wisely, they will certainly enjoy their work and will be more productive. HR folks can bring out a drill that defines what fun is. They should put in place clear rules stating that employees should not make fun of other employees or the managers, they should not indulge in sarcasm and make demeaning comments about others, etc. In short, HR managers should make it clear to employees that efficiency does not lie in tiring oneself while working.

The role of humor in creating a fun environment at the workplace

Humor can do a world of good by easing the stress at the workplace. But not everyone can speak wittily but almost everyone may be able to participate and enjoy humorous situations. Such situations at the workplace can create a bond among employees. This will go a long way in helping the employees in working together to achieve the goals of the company. But again, people should be careful not to be sarcastic and not to pass demeaning comments about others.

Some of the ideas to create a fun environment at the workplace are:

1. Conducting events periodically for helping employees to showcase their talents in various spheres.
2. In the United Kingdom, companies conduct what are known as the "mobile phone throwing" contests. The person who throws his or her mobile phone to the farthest point wins the first prize.
3. "Office-chair race" is quite popular in Singapore companies.
4. Similarly, Polish companies use the "suggestion box" for generating innovative ideas from employees. The employee who comes out with the best idea is rewarded
5. Sam Walton, who founded Wal-Mart, was ready to wear a hula skirt and go dancing down the street when the challenges he set were met by his employees.

In short, if employees work in a stress-free environment, it will certainly lead to greater productivity. As Joe Neulinger who authored "The Psychology of Leisure" puts it, "Those not interested in doing anything but work are not likely to be CEOs."