Effective communication systems are an integral part of a successful business. To remain competitive and productive, a company must develop an organized, efficient approach to corresponding and communicating with its own employees, as well as with customers, vendors and other professionals. Fortunately, business communication has evolved over time and includes diverse types of business messages, ranging from the simple and tried-and-true to the technologically sophisticated.
Business Phone Messages
If your business has more than one person, you'll eventually have to decide the best way to record and distribute incoming phone messages. Some businesses employ someone to screen phone calls, write down messages from callers and distribute them to the employees for which they are intended. Other businesses use an automated voice mail system where callers leave their messages as voice recordings. With voice mail, each employee is responsible for keeping track of his own messages. Some smaller businesses only set up voice mail boxes for the company's separate departments, instead of individual employees.
Memorandums (memos) are a type of correspondence employees can use to communicate within their own department or between departments of the same company. Memos are typically brief in nature and do not have the formal formatting of external written business correspondence. However, memos do have a format and general structure. Each business formats memos to its own preferences, but in general, memos show the recipient, the sender and the subject at the top, sometimes in bold typeset. The body of the message is below this information in ordinary typeset. Employees may deliver memos in person or use the company's inter-office mail distribution. Within some professions, such as the legal and health care fields, people use memos to send brief messages to other professionals and, in some cases, clients. People may send these kinds of memos by mail, by email and by fax.
Today, many businesses use email correspondence as a way to communicate within the company as well as with customers, vendors and other businesses. If the business has a website, employees may have email addresses with the company's domain name, such as "firstname.lastname@example.org." Email correspondence tends to be less formal than handwritten correspondence, a fact that has its advantages and disadvantages. Many businesses that allow their employees to use company email addresses find it useful to establish a uniform standard for company email. Companies may limit employees' usage for business purposes only and strictly regulate what kinds of email attachments an employee may download. If the business has a confidentiality agreement with its employees, this agreement will likely extend to the employees' use of company email correspondence. A business is well within its rights to require an employee to represent the company in a positive light while corresponding with a company email address. Some businesses may require employees that use a company email to add automatic email signatures to their email. This signature may include the employee's full name and title at the company, as well as the business name, phone number, website and other pertinent information.
Professional business correspondence has a long and formal history. Businesses often commission a letterhead design on which all business correspondence is printed. The letterhead design may incorporate the company logo as well as general contact information, such as the company's mailing address, phone and fax numbers and website address. Some companies customize the main letterhead template for individuals within the company, adding personal extensions and individual email addresses to the contact information. Written business correspondence has a formal structure. Though the exact format may vary, in general, the date goes at the top of the letter, and the recipient's full name, title, company and mailing address are below the date. You don't have to add a subject line or field labels, such as "To:" next to the recipient's name and address. Written business correspondence uses opening salutations, such as "Dear" at the beginning, followed by the recipient's name, and closing salutations at the end, such as "Sincerely," with the name of the sender beneath. The sender may want to hand-sign the letter for a personal touch. If someone other than the sender of the letter wrote or typed it, the typist should include the sender's initials, a colon and her own initials beneath the signature. If the same letter is sent to multiple recipients, it should be addressed to the main recipient, then all other recipients should be notated at the bottom of the email next to the letters "CC," which stand for "carbon copy."