Congratulations! You’re taking the first step to setting up great small business communications.
Small businesses have a lot to juggle when it comes to their daily operations, so it’s important to have a solid plan in place for your communications. Here are 9 tips to get you started!
1. Set up VoIP instead of a landline number
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) helps streamline internal and external communication by allowing you to make (and receive) voice calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a traditional phone line.
It is much cheaper than a landline and offers some great additional features, like caller ID, call waiting, voicemail, and more. Plus, you can use your VoIP number on your website, business cards, and email signature.
Most importantly, VoIP allows you to streamline B2C communications for customer service and aftersales purposes as well.
Implementing features such as hunt groups can provide immeasurable benefits when it comes to direct communication channels between the customer and the business.
2. Use a project management tool to eliminate extra meetings
Project management tools help you keep track of deadlines, tasks, and progress on projects. This allows you to communicate with your team within the tool you use without having to have extra meetings.
There are a lot of great project management tools out there, like Asana, Trello, and Basecamp. Find one that works for you and your team and start using it to eliminate unnecessary meetings.
Although Trello stands out as a popular choice due to its intuitive card-based interface and collaborative features, many teams are increasingly turning to alternatives for enhanced functionalities. Some of the top alternatives to Trello are currently in high demand because of their advanced features, scalability, and tailored solutions. These alternatives often offer robust capabilities for complex project management needs, such as detailed reporting, customizable workflows, and integration with a wider array of third-party apps.
These project management tools are highly effective ways to prevent informational silos among interdepartmental projects and can also assist in facilitating more streamlined workflow and productivity.
Although these tools are simple to use, many of them can be customised to suit your business procedures and needs.
The best thing about these tools is that they are highly suitable for small teams, something that most small businesses have.
But as your business begins to scale and your team starts getting bigger, you may need to shift to more complex tools or use a combination of these tools for efficient communication.
3. Train your team to use email tracking tools
Email tracking tools let you know when someone has opened your email, whether they have forwarded it, and if they have clicked on any links included in your email.
This helps you to gauge the effectiveness of your email communications and follow up accordingly.
There are a number of great email tracking tools out there, like Right Inbox and Mailtrack. Train your team on how to use these tools so that you can get the most out of them.
Not only is email tracking a key way to measure marketing performance, but it will allow your team to identify key areas for improvement when it comes to retention.
As such, email tracking is especially useful for sales teams, but can be used by any team that sends a lot of email communications.
4. Use video conferencing for remote team members
If you have team members who work remotely, video conferencing can be a great way to stay in touch and keep everyone on the same page.
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, video conferencing has become even more popular and effective, and there are now a number of great options to choose from, like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams.
We recommend Google Meet because most professional teams already use Google Workspace tools (like Gmail and Google Calendar), so it’s easy to integrate Meet into your existing workflow.
5. Create a knowledge base for FAQs
A knowledge base is a central repository for all the information your team needs to know. This can include FAQs, how-tos, company policies, and more.
Creating a knowledge base can help reduce the number of questions your team has to ask, and it’s a great way to keep everyone on the same page. Plus, it’s easy to search and find the information you need when you need it.
There are a number of great knowledge base tools out there, like Zendesk Guide and HelpScout Beacon. But if you're looking for a relatively straightforward and free option, Google Docs can work well, too.
6. Set up a chatbot for customer support
If you have a website, you can use a chatbot to answer customer questions and help them with their shopping experience. This can free up your customer support team to handle more complex issues.
Most modern chatbots are equipped with AIML (AI and Machine Learning) based technology that can understand natural language processes, so they can parse customer questions and give accurate answers.
It’s important to note that chatbots should not be used for all channels of B2C communications, as excessive use of chatbots can give the impression that the business’ customer support procedures are all automated and digital.
However, used in the right ways, they can help to filter through customer queries so that easier-to-answer queries have already been taken care of by the time the customer reaches your support team.
There are a number of great chatbot platforms out there, like Chatfuel, Manychat, and Botsify. None are inherently better than the other, but each are suitable for different industries and business models, so be sure to do your research.
7. Use a free video-recording service like Loom to eliminate long emails
If your business is tech-related and your team spends most of their time on their computers, chances are they are writing each other long emails explaining how to carry out tasks. This can be a huge time-waster.
Instead of writing long emails, have your team record a quick video explaining what they need to do. This can be done for free using a service like Loom.
Loom is primarily used for training and onboarding purposes in small businesses, but keep in mind that its also a powerful and flexible tool that can be used for reporting or to communicate any changes in internal procedures.
With a rise in remote and hybrid workflow over the last few years, it has become essential to maintain various forms of virtual communication.
Although cloud based video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Discord provide the backbone for digital communication, Loom provides incredible time saving potential when it comes to business-wide communication.
Loom is great because it’s quick and easy to use, and you can easily share your videos with anyone, even if they don’t have a Loom account.
8. Get everyone on the same page with a daily stand-up meeting
If your team is working on a project together, it’s important to have a daily stand-up meeting to ensure everyone is on the same page.
During the stand-up meeting, each team member should give a quick update on what they’re working on, what they’ve accomplished, and any obstacles they’re facing.
This helps keep everyone on track and makes it easy to identify any potential problems.
But other than a daily stand-up meeting, try to keep meetings at a minimum by incorporating a project management tool in your daily workflow as discussed above.
9. Implement cloud storage for accessibility
Cloud storage is more than just a data dump location for your company files. These cloud storage platforms offer a variety of additional features and capabilities that cannot be afforded by local storage solutions.
Some of these features include ad hoc storage expansion, inline editing, multi-user versioning and security restrictions such as 2 factor authentication.
Moreover, most larger cloud storage providers allow for cross compatibility and app integration with the rest of their cloud services.
The best cloud based storage tools that include collaboration capabilities include Microsoft OneDrive and Google Workspace. Whereas, smaller providers like iDrive or any reliable and best Citrix alternatives may provide more optimised solutions for small businesses.
If your employees are still working from home or hybrid roles following the pandemic, a cloud storage infrastructure is a core component when building a online collaboration space.
Providing company wide accessibility to key projects is vital to maintaining productivity in a small business environment.
10. Work on writing effective emails
Since emails make the bulk of most business communication, it’s important to spend some time perfecting your and your team’s email skills.
This includes learning how to write clear and concise emails, as well as how to format your emails in a way that is easy to read.
You should also pay attention to your email etiquette, which includes things like using a proper greeting, proofreading your email before you send it, and keeping your emails short and to the point.
It might be useful to use Grammarly's Google Chrome extension, which ensures your emails are well-written right within your email provider's interface.
Communication is key to any successful business, so it’s important to spend some time setting up efficient and effective communications systems.
The tips above should help you get started with setting up small business communications. But if you actually want to improve team communication at your company, check out these 9 foolproof ideas to do so.