Importance of Investing in Communications for SMEs

Communication skills is an often-neglected challenge for SMEs even though it is a critical aspect of business. For a good number of them, it does not rank as high or pressing as other challenges such as inadequate capital or restrictive business regulations. Looking closely though, one will discover that communication inadequacy is at the core of these other challenges SMEs are facing. That is why it is vital to improve and master it.

From interacting with customers to engaging suppliers and promoting teamwork among employees, communication is indispensable. It is a skill that makes all the difference in how effective a business will be in what it sets out to do. Poor employee engagement causes disharmony in the workplace, leads to high employee turnover and reduced productivity. Investing in employee engagement leads to the employees feeling valued. They will be motivated to work hard and contribute towards the success of the business.

SMEs that relate well with their suppliers, government agencies and other key external stakeholders find it comparatively easier to conduct their business. Issues that arise will be fewer too. Any changes that arise that may have a significant effect on business operations are better handled if one has good working relationships with the external stakeholders involved with those changes.

The very art of selling means communicating with a potential customer and convincing them your product is better than the competitors’. Here, customer experience will be a major factor on whether the customer will buy from you or go to your competitor. If they do buy from you, the experience will also determine if the customer will come back and refer others to you or they will go to Twitter to complain about your brand and warn others to stay away from it.

In business, disagreements and complaints come with the territory. The negative impact they can have on a brand has the potential to cause serious damage to that brand. With training on how well to handle them, damage can be limited to a minimum. The brand can even find opportunities therein to positively enhance its image. This is what is called crisis communication.

Like any other skill, communication is a skill that needs to be improved on all the time, and individual SMEs are different in their operations and stakeholders. Even though the need for communication is the same across the board, how to do it effectively differs. How one interacts with stakeholder A may not work well with stakeholder B.

Increased awareness and the existence of social media also means that how an SME interacts with its stakeholders has changed over time. Customers are more discerning in where they spend their money. Competitors are more receptive of this and are working hard to position themselves as so. Regulatory bodies are always listening and a complaint about your brand on social media can see your business lose its trading license. In such an environment, one cannot afford to not take the time to work on their communication skills in areas such as customer engagement and crisis management.

Investing in communication should not be seen as an optional thing for SMEs. The effects to an organization that takes the time to continually improve communication skills of its employees is evident by how well it operates. It grows as it has more customers, fewer crises, motivated employees and external stakeholders happy to engage with it. The flipside is a company that finds itself struggling to exist amid a myriad of problems.