There are several complexities within start-ups that make getting established a challenging prospect. From limited resources to changing business objectives, building a successful enterprise is often like building a foundation on shifting sands. Communication is a common issue for start-ups, both internally and externally. Here are some key tips for improving communications within your start-up to find success.
Invest in the Right Tools
Investing in the right tools is a must when establishing parameters for clear communication both internally and externally. It’s essential to take a two-pronged approach to select the right ones. First, incorporate this planning into the overarching business plan to determine what needs you foresee when starting. Then, create a pivot plan you can use when issues crop up while you are getting started.
During the initial planning, you might determine that your start-up will require an email marketing platform, an instant messaging service, and a video conference call tool for communications. After a few months, you might identify the need to be able to send a fax online and realize you also require an automated CRM tool.
Plan as much in advance as possible, then adjust as you go to meet the unique challenges within your business.
Know Your Target Audience
If you want to attract customers to your product or service, you must communicate with them in a relevant way. That means knowing your target audience intimately and shaping a brand tone and voice around their preferences.
Improve your start-up communications by developing a customer avatar that reflects your ideal customer. Then, use the avatar as a gatekeeper for all external communications. Have your team ask how your avatar would respond to your tone and message before publishing or sending.
The same strategy can apply to internal communications. Clarify early on what your company culture will be and how you will interact with one another.
The key to successful communications — both internally and externally — is being proactive. When navigating customer relationships, take a proactive approach by offering support before a problem is identified. When a customer leaves a negative review or offers poor feedback, practice empathy and look ahead to the solution.
Being proactive within the organization will also help streamline communications. Empower your people to identify the barriers that are holding them back and what they need from their team to move forward.
Customers and team members shouldn’t have to beg for attention; the more available you are, the better the communication. For external communications, provide several options for getting in touch. Some customers may prefer a live chat or email support plan, while others may prefer to call and get things sorted out. If you don’t respond to social media messages, use an auto-responder to redirect customers to another channel.
Initiate an open-door policy within the organization as well. Team members should feel empowered to come forward and know which channels to use to communicate.
Have Clear Expectations
Setting clear expectations regarding response times will help mitigate frustration when communication delays occur. Start-ups tend to operate outside the traditional Monday to Friday, nine-to-five workweek. However, that doesn’t mean people should be expected to burn the midnight (or weekend) oil.
Set clear expectations with both team members and customers about when they can expect a response. Let team members know what’s expected when they’ll be out of contact — for example, blocking time on a calendar or sending a group message to let everyone know.
Remember To Be Human
Finally, with remote teams operating through digital channels and automation becoming a crucial part of the modern business framework, it’s vital to incorporate humanity into your communications. Remind your customers and team that there’s a living, breathing human on the other side of the screen. Add personification into your communications by showing empathy and emotion, adding names and images of your employees, and setting healthy boundaries.
With these six essential tips, you can improve both internal and external communications in your start-up.