Monday July 6, 2015 0 comments
By Andrea Lotz
You wouldn’t think that communication would be a problem in a small business, but lack of engagement and mistakes are often the direct results of a poor internal communication strategy.
At AllProWebTools, we’ve found that we can improve communication without spending a lot of time through technology that enables total transparency.We and all of our clients use a small business dashboard to make sales, projections, client interactions, tasks, and timecard notes visible to everyone in the company. In fact, the main feature of our dashboard is a live feed that posts these updates in real time.
Here are a few of the benefits we’ve seen from this culture of total transparency through dashboarding:
Virtual workplace for remote and in-office workers
It can’t be denied that remote workers do greatly increase the odds of miscommunication. Having a cloud-based online dashboard, fully accessible from any Internet-enabled device, has a few big benefits for a remote workforce:
- Reduces feelings of isolation
- Reduces communication breakdown
- Get important updates in real time
Many of our employees work from home at least some of the time, and benefit from a virtual workplace. But our in-office workers benefit as well, as it reduces the need for interruptions and update meetings. Information flows freely, in total silence.
We’ve also found that a virtual workplace helps employees collaborate without formal meetings or management. All employees can see what others are working on, which means they can:
- Offer supplemental information, help, or advice
- Coordinate workflows with others
- See the progress of tasks without asking
In addition, if someone’s off track, it can be addressed quickly by a peer or manager before the problem escalates.
Big Picture motivation
If small business employees aren’t fully engaged, it often translates to lost profits, mistakes, budgeting problems, and scheduling delays. Employee engagement is a very complicated issue, but it can often be addressed through transparency.
When employees can see where their work fits into the big picture, they’re more inclined to give it their all. We’ve even seen sales teams entering into a spirit of friendly competition through the dashboard.
Improved customer service
In general, the more empowered and knowledgeable a customer service representative is, the more helpful they’re able to be.
A dashboard lets anyone who’s interacting with a customer see all past interactions with that customer, information about their preferences, and that customer’s complete order history, so they can offer fully consistent messaging and be as helpful as possible.
One of the biggest benefits we’ve seen from using a dashboard is the increased accountability of team members, from the business owner down to interns. It makes management easier by keeping everything black-and-white. The dashboard itself becomes an indisputable record of written instructions, deadlines, and priorities.
We use our dashboard to track how company time is spent, making it easy for a manager to look through an employee’s timecard notes and see what got done, and how long it took. We track billable client time is spent as well, extending that total transparency to customers on their invoices.
This protects employees who are following instructions and using company time well, while allowing managers to easily identify employees who aren’t.
In general, we’ve found that accountability and transparency combine to reduce communication breakdown and stress in a small business. We and all of our clients love having the information to make good decisions at our fingertips, from the bottom of the organization to the top.