2020 sent most businesses scrambling to connect remotely with customers and each other. 2021 saw the rise of hybrid workplaces and revealed how ill-prepared we were for the world’s new communications norms. Now, with 2022 right around the corner, it’s time to make improvements and create a plan for the future.
A proper communications plan aligns with your company’s growth goals, is flexible enough to work from the office or at home, and doesn’t stray too far from the projected budget.
Most importantly though, a proper communications plan makes it easy for your bosses to say yes by providing tangible benefits to the business.
WHO SHOULD BE INVOLVED
A proper communications plan should involve both your company’s internal and external comms. If your business is small, it’s (relatively) easy to keep everyone on the same page. However, if you’re trying to overhaul the ways multiple departments communicate with customers and each other, that’s a whole different ball game.
We recommend putting together a Communications A Team to oversee the planning process. Your office manager, tech guru, one of your best sales reps — whoever you think would best represent your business when it comes to how you communicate now, and how you want to improve for next year.
Of course, whoever you put on the project will need the access and know-how to review your current systems and propose optimizations. If you don’t have a dedicated IT person, consider consulting with one as you plan for next year. More than likely, they’ll be able to recognize gaps in your current system or suggest a new one that’s a better match for your future needs.
The most important thing is to keep leadership informed throughout your planning. Decision-makers are much more likely to buy into process changes or a new communications system if they’re along for the ride that arrives at those conclusions.
Plus, it’s inevitable that owners and executives will have their own ideas of how to improve the company’s communications. Adding these to your plan gets more and more difficult the further into the process you get.
UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE
Now that you understand who is going to make your 2022 communications plan, it’s time to understand who exactly that plan targets and how it will benefit them.
If your main goal is to improve your internal company communications — put out a survey, start a Slack channel, and conduct interviews with your team to identify roadblocks.
If you’re looking to upgrade or expand the ways you communicate with customers, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and do some research! Take a deep dive into your audience to understand who they are, what they want, and what competing products they use. You may think you already know your customers, but I guarantee that reviewing new trends and market research will reveal some surprises.
For instance, how many of your customers would rather text your business than call? How many callers turn to competitors because they can’t reach you after hours? How many prospects ignore your calls because they don’t recognize your area code?
Understanding your audience better allows you to craft a communications plan that reaches farther and makes it easier to connect with your business.
SET THE RIGHT GOALS (THINK BIG, PLAN SMALL)
The way every business works is unique. Every industry’s customer journey is unique. Your communications plan and goals should be just as unique if you want to maximize your team’s potential.
Start with broad, company-wide objectives such as:
- Having more productive meetings
- Letting fewer calls go to voicemail
- Increasing your sales call connection rate
- Reducing the amount of time customers spend on hold with support
Once you have an overarching strategy, you can start cobbling together the tools and tactics you’ll use to implement it. Look for ways you could be connecting with customers but currently aren’t.
If you have a dedicated sales team, adding a browser dialer app or local presence dialing could help you beat competitors to leads. If you want to improve your customer support experience, see where frustration happens and find tools to alleviate it such as advanced queues or automatic forwarding. If you use a CRM, make sure your phone system integrates with it so you can cut down on data entry across your whole company.
The biggest benefit of business communications systems like FluentStream is that they come packed with more than enough features to implement your dream plan for 2022 and beyond. In fact, many process or training improvements managers feel their teams need can be accomplished automatically by a modern phone system.
So if you feel like your current phone setup isn’t up to snuff, plan a strategy for what you want to improve and then see if a simple system change can make it happen. That way, your team can focus more on what they want to accomplish, and leave all the how to your new provider.
REMEMBER TO STAY REALISTIC
There’s always the risk of being too ambitious when designing a new communications plan. Everyone wants to accomplish something different. Executives may ask you to meet unrealistic metrics. Google searches reveal an endless parade of shiny new tools you think could optimize your workflows.
Be strong. Resist temptation. Don’t lose the forest for the trees.
Keep a firm grasp on what your budget is and how much time you’ve been given to create your 2022 plan. Even if your final decisions don’t thrill every department, sticking to achievable goals is always better than shooting for the moon and then having to explain to your boss why you fell short.
This is another aspect of communications planning where providers like FluentStream can help. Our team lives, breathes, and yes sometimes even dreams business communications. If you have any questions whatsoever about what’s achievable for your business, or how much it would cost to implement your ideal communications plan before the year ends — don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 303-GO-CLOUD or firstname.lastname@example.org.