The Importance of Interdepartmental Communication
Even though many business owners make great efforts to smooth the exchange of information with customers, internal and interdepartmental communication still doesn’t flow as well as possible, according to a 2012 column by the business resource My Corporation. Though business owners may see interdepartmental communication as a trivial matter, the flow of information within an organization carries a great deal of significance.
If interdepartmental communication breaks down, many businesses stand to lose considerable amounts of money. If an organization’s sales department ramps up sales and fails to communicate the increased demand to the manufacturing or production department, the company can lose business as frustrated customers look elsewhere for their products. Similarly, slowdowns in actual sales or sales forecasts that do not get properly communicated within the organization can leave the business with a glut of inventory that it may end up selling at a loss.
Just as interdepartmental communication breakdowns with the production department can carry real costs, communication issues with the accounting department can leave bills unpaid or revenue uncollected. In organizations where managers are empowered to make purchases or sign contracts, failing to communicate these expenses to the accounting department can leave bills unpaid and damage the organization’s credit rating. When the company makes a sale or issues a contract to a paying client, by contrast, not properly communicating this new revenue stream to the department in charge of billing can leave money uncollected.
Communication between the customer service department and other aspects of the business is a key issue in keeping customers satisfied. Customer service departments that remain unaware of product features or new products can leave customers feeling frustrated when they cannot get their questions answered. In addition, customer service representatives unfamiliar with products or unaware of how they work may spread bad information that aggravates the problems that customers may already have. Customer service representatives are often an organization’s primary customer-facing post-sale role, and depriving this department of information can result in poor reviews, refund requests and a drop in customer loyalty.
Like customer service representatives, sales agents play a critical role in disseminating information to customers. Interdepartmental communication problems that hamper the flow of information to the sales force may leave some agents unable to close a sale or even guessing at the answers to customer questions. Failing to communicate new products or services can result in missed up-sale opportunities, and miscommunication of sales expectations may even cause the entire organization to miss its revenue targets.
Because interdepartmental communication plays such a vital role in many organizations, a number of traditional and electronic solutions can help business owners improve interdepartmental communication efficiency. Physical bulletin boards, coupled with electronic versions like online forums and intranet websites, can help increase the flow of information between departments. In addition, newsletters and other routine announcements create a channel for communication between departments, and town hall meetings can help ensure employees receive and understand important messages.