When was the last time you watched a movie and thought to yourself, "Better communication would have prevented this whole mix-up?" This trope is everywhere—on the screen and in real life.
Many mistakes, frustrations, productivity issues, client losses, and employee turnover happen in business because team members aren't communicating.
Successful firms don't leave communication to chance. They implement effective team communication strategies like these.
What Communication Challenges Are You Currently Facing?
The communications bottlenecks in your firm are causing severe problems. Perhaps the information a team member needs to complete a task is sitting in the inbox of someone busy working on something else. You have team members who are in a constant state of hurrying up and waiting.
Or a client informed one person of a need, change, or request. That update wasn't logged for the whole team to see, so others working on it were not aware.
Gaps in communication channels also occur. Some information is provided over the phone, through email, or in person—other team members who need that information work without seeing the whole picture.
A gap can also be someone forgetting to tell other team members about something in time or being out sick, so those responsible end up doing a task wrong and have to redo it.
If you're the one who forgot to tell them, they forgive it once, but eventually, this will damage the relationship you have with your team.
Maybe you can already think of other communication challenges we've failed to mention here. Regardless, it's not hard to find real-world examples of places where "better communication would have prevented this whole mix-up."
Using Technology for Enhanced Communication
Think back across history. Every technology invented was made to solve problems, from the Babylonian abacus to modern accounting software. That desire to solve problems is human nature. Innovation hasn't slowed down.
So, if you see a problem, chances are people who know how to build technology to solve problems are taking notes and creating fixes.
And here's the truth:
If you have been doing communications the same way for years, you may be surprised what's possible and accessible even to small to medium firms now:
- Collect, secure, store, centralize, and route communications automatically
- Keep larger projects on track - Team members can log task completions so others know when a project will hit their desk
- Reduce errors, delays, and redos with transparent client records
- Automate reminders to keep team members and clients who need to submit documents on track
- Streamline employee and client communication with instant messaging vs. delay-prone email
- Keep clients feeling informed and content
- Analyze communication bottlenecks and gaps as well as error rates to provide fixes
- Assess productivity on a team individual level to enhance performance and morale
- Provide higher value services clients can't get from another firm
What to Look for in a Communication Tools
There are many tools out there, so it's important to go into this with a plan. You don't want to end up with a bunch of communication tools that do "neat things" but can't communicate with each other. Integration with your current tools and new ones is important.
Look for tools that enable real-time collaboration and asynchronous communication. Real-time helps your team get things done now. Asynchronous communication logs information as it occurs so others can refer to it later.
Your tools should enable instant messaging with reminders and alerts that keep people informed as communication arrives.
Finally, client and firm security are paramount. You should never allow just any technology to manage sensitive data.
Create a Communication-Focused Culture
A communication-focused culture attracts and retains employees who understand the importance of it, strengthen your culture, and bond with your team now and over time.
Implement strategies to increase the transparency of projects and accounts in your firm. Encourage open communication and enable that communication with the right technology.
Set an example by using technology to interact with the team and demonstrate how to effectively manage projects, clients, and office tasks through your chosen platform.
Technology investment is an integral part of culture building. You're showing your team that you value their time and contribution. You're willing to invest in tools that make them more productive.
Emphasize Communication in Your Accounting Firm
Successful firms understand the importance of excellent team communication. With it, you can eliminate the gaps and bottlenecks while delivering a higher-value experience to clients.
Technology solves problems, and you may be surprised how many of these problems are easily fixable with the right tools.
Ensure that technology integrates with your current tech stack, has instant messaging capabilities, and provides a secure platform to share private information. Build a communication-focused culture to strengthen your team's performance.