OpenMarket – March 24, 2016
As business owners, we often spend a lot of time and energy focusing on how we can better engage with customers. And while this is certainly an important component of a successful customer-oriented business, it’s not the starting point. In order to effectively communicate with customers, you have to start by improving your communication efforts with those inside your company.
Why Employee Communication Matters
When you think about it, your employees have a lot of control over the direction and perception of your company. While you may like to think only a select few executives are in charge of your company’s future, the reality is that each individual you hire speaks volumes about your brand.
This is why it’s so troubling to see business owners spend massive amounts of time and energy developing strategic plans for how they’ll understand, engage, and convert target prospects into paying customers, without ever thinking about the importance of establishing a communication plan with employees.
According to a 2014 Gallup study, employees fall into one of three categories: engaged, not engaged, or actively disengaged. On average, 31.5 percent of employees are engaged and 17.5 percent are actively disengaged. This means 51 percent – or over half of your entire workforce – is essentially sitting on the fence. They could go one way or the other. They could become an engaged and productive employee, or they could choose to disengage and slide by.
This is either very intimidating or exciting to you. The pessimist will look at this and say, “There’s a chance that nearly 70 percent of my workforce could be actively disengaged.” The optimist looks at this and says, “Wow! More than 82 percent of my employees could be actively engaged if we make the right choices and improve some approaches.”
But what approaches need to be improved? Well, every business is unique, but in most cases, companies can see a massive shift in engagement by bolstering their internal communication strategy and empowering employees with the information and resources they need to succeed.
As Gary Grates, vice president for corporate communications for GM, wrote a handful of years ago, “Employees want to know what the company believes in and what it will fight for — its mission, vision and values; its foundational principles. They will commit or not commit, engage or disengage, on the basis of that foundation.”
SMS: Employee Communication in the Modern Era
There are hundreds of different strategies for communicating with employees, but you have to remember your audience. Today, the average person is more comfortable with text messaging – or SMS – than they are with email, phone, or any other form of digital communication.
This is good news, as SMS technology has evolved tremendously over the past decade and it’s now possible for businesses to build an entire internal communication strategy using text messaging. And while we highly recommend you do the same, we also think it’s important to highlight the ten commandments of how to effectively and appropriately communicate with employees via this channel.
- Use SMS for Short Blasts of Info
As the name suggests, SMS – or short message service – is designed for short blasts of information. Text messages should not be used to replace long-winded emails or monthly reports. Instead, use them to convey relevant and concise information.
- Use SMS for Last Minute Reminders
SMS is great for last minute reminders because employees always have their phones close by. Something as simple as, “Marketing Department: Meeting in 5 minutes in Conference Room 501C” can encourage employees to arrive in the right place at the right time.
- Keep Group Messages One-Way
While it’s not uncommon to send out a message to more than one recipient, you should make sure you restrict the ability to respond. This is the quickest way to frustrate employees. Using the previous example, you’d inevitably have five or ten responses with people saying things like, “On the way,” “Running late,” or “Be there in two minutes.” Nobody wants their phone getting blown up with dozens of texts.
- Strategically Use Automated Updates
SMS is wonderfully effective for automated updates about changes to technology, software, policies, and more. From your perspective, these are great because they can be scheduled and sent out without any manual effort.
- Leverage SMS for Gathering Data
Have a question about whether or not to implement a new policy? Why not send out a poll question to see how employees actually feel. SMS can be used to gather real-time data and information.
- Communicate with Offsite Employees
When an employee is offsite meeting with a client, the last thing you want to do is interrupt them with a phone call. However, sometimes you have information that needs to be conveyed. SMS is quick, silent, and effective.
- Deliver Emergency Notifications
Many companies use SMS to deliver emergency notifications. For example, if snowy conditions pop up in the middle of the night and roads are closed, you can send out a mass message that notifies employees to work from home.
- Don’t Let SMS Replace Face-to-Face
One important thing to remember is that SMS does not replace face-to-face conversation. Only use SMS in certain situations or it can cheapen your communicative efforts over time.
- Try Something New
While we’ve highlighted some of the most popular ways businesses are using SMS to engage employees, these certainly aren’t the only ones. Feel free to get creative and try something new. Not sure if employees like it? Run an SMS-based poll to find out.
- Choose a Secure Platform
Finally, make sure you’re using a secure platform. Any time you share company information and private data over a network, you need to be confident outsiders don’t have access to it.
Contact OpenMarket Today
At OpenMarket, we are proud to work with some of the largest enterprises in the world to design advanced SMS solutions that maximize both internal and external communications. If you’re looking for a way to enhance engagement with your employees in an effective and beneficial way, then consider learning more about our products.
Please contact us today and we’ll be happy to walk you through how SMS could specifically impact your organization for the better!