The Best Way to Improve Internal Communication in Store Chains

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Oliver works part-time in a small retail chain store next to his university. He works mainly during weekends and evenings. Like most of us, Oliver doesn’t really think about work during his spare time. He regularly checks his work schedule on the bulletin board in the staff room and sometimes calls his supervisor. Today, while he is working alone during the morning shift, a customer asks about a campaign product that Oliver has not heard anything about. The busy store manager forgot to tell him about the campaign, and the campaign products are still in the back room waiting to be placed on the shelves.

Often, retail chains and franchising companies execute traditional top-down communication. The information comes down from chain management to local managers, who then pass it down to the individual employees. Information is spread via printed newsletters, info screens, email, and, sometimes, also through the intranet. Numerous communication channels are not a problem in and of themselves. Instead, problems arise when you cannot be sure if the message has reached everyone who needs to see it.

Company A, Ltd. is a retail chain grocery store. The employees are quite heterogeneous. The company employs men and women of different ages, ethnicity, etc. Most of them work full-time, but some work part-time. Many use smart phones, but, in contrast to that, others check their emails roughly once a month. In a diverse environment such as this, communication challenges will occur when information needs to reach everyone in the organization simultaneously. In many cases, email would be the preferable option, because email is a powerful communication tool when correctly used. However, people who do not read their emails very often are at risk for missing important information that is sent via email.  These people typically rely on getting their information from managers and colleagues. This kind of peer-to-peer flow of information is neither fast nor reliable. Everyone who has ever played telephone knows how the original message can change unintentionally (or intentionally).

Of course, it is possible to educate your whole staff to use a new communication platform for daily internal communications. However, can even a platoon of consultants guarantee that people won’t fall back into their old habits after a few months? Also, if resistance to change occurs, it can have adverse impacts on the business. For example, a new marketing campaign or updates on the company’s best practices may be ignored or go unnoticed.

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    Luckily, there are other ways to improve your organization’s internal communications. Instead of focusing your communications on one channel, you can target it to any of the channels your employees actually like to use. If some of your staff seldom use email, it doesn’t make sense to send them critical information by email. Two-way SMSs or the company web portal could be a far more effective way to reach them. Younger and more tech-savvy employees (and definitely the younger millennials who are entering the labor market as we speak) may prefer to receive work-related communications in real time through smart phone apps.

    Without a proper tool, this kind of personally tailored communication is not wise or even scalable. We at eeedo, however, have developed a handy application which allows chain management to communicate with personnel using their preferred communication channel, therefore drastically improve organization’s overall internal communication process. While working with our existing customers, we have learned that having a simple way to mark messages as read is a critical feature. As a result, to make doing so practical, we have built this feature in a way that allows you to mark emails and SMSs as read by replying to them or by clicking an attached button.

    Anssi Junnonen

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