March 12, 2016 By Suzanne Robertson

Small business owners are busy! From logistics to marketing, the days and weeks seem to fly by.

You might not be focused on communication and how important that is for running a successful small business. Here are some pointers for improving communication with employees and outside contacts.

Improve Communication with Your Small Business Employees

Create a strong office culture.

Open communication starts with a positive atmosphere. You don’t need foosball tables and team-building retreats to build a successful office culture. There are small inexpensive touches that show your team that you care. Do you have a nice coffee machine? Do you bring in snacks or meals occasionally to celebrate a successful week? Do you celebrate successes? Let your employees know how important they are to the overall business. Appoint your most energetic and positive employee to implement overall strategies that establish a friendly and productive culture.

Be open about important business issues.

Nothing can slam shut communication like keeping vital business information from your employees. Like pets and children, employees can pick up cues that something is going wrong (or right). Make sure to update your team about issues that impact your business – both positive and negative. The more knowledge you give to your employees, the more likely they are to build on successes and find solutions for problems.

Respond promptly.

Respond promptly when asked a question by a team member. Let them know that they are important to you and your business by listening and acting on issues. Ignoring email or an in person request to meet can cause a positive atmosphere to wilt. Be sure to establish an open-door policy so that employees feel comfortable coming to you.

Recognize and reward

There are few things that make an employee feel appreciated than recognizing stellar work. Instead of just verbal praise, look at cost effect ways to reward your employees. Establish a traveling trophy, give an extra day off, provide a gift card for a favorite coffee shop – little things can go a long way.

Enhance Communication with Clients and Customers

Be responsive.

Responding promptly to employees is critical but failure to respond to customers or clients can be devastating. Make sure you have strategies and systems in place to respond in a timely manner. Being responsive gives validation to others that they are important.

Make meetings count.

Meetings are notorious for being time suckers. An unproductive or messy meeting can be a deal breaker if you’re communicating with key vendors, customers or clients. First, make sure your meeting is organized. Confirm times and locations and set a specific time for the meeting to end. Next, prepare an agenda for the meeting and stick to it. Finally, take copious notes or record the meeting so you don’t miss vital information. Respond promptly to any tasks or questions that come up.

Establish customer service best practices.

A little research can uncover a lot of information out there about customer service best practices. Make it a priority to establish a system that is a fit for your small business. Failing to respond to a customer can be a deal-killer for many consumers.

Use feedback constructively.

Don’t brush off feedback from those who keep your company doors open. First, create a system for collecting comments. The data you uncover can be invaluable to help strengthen and grow your business. Check out the SmartBiz article from our blog for more in-depth information. The Best Way Small Business Owners Can Gather Feedback.

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