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Communication Skills

Communication Skills
The Senior Management Team (SMT) of a local medium sized organisation has become aware of communication problems within their organisation. Customers have been complaining of poor service, the Managing Director is appalled to see spelling errors in letters and now suppliers have refused to deliver further goods until they receive a response to their emails and phone calls about their outstanding invoices.

You work with a training consultancy, Training Solutions. An experienced colleague, Asha Cumari, has established what the problems are and you have been asked to deliver the proposed solutions.

You receive the following email and attached report from Asha.
I would like you to finish this project. They need a workshop on communication with some training materials (eg a manual or hand-outs) plus a report for SMT. Please carry out the following tasks:

Task 1
Prepare a formal report for the senior staff and line managers at SHDE Holdings. (AC 5.1). You will need to use charts and graphs to present information as appropriate (AC 5.3)

This report should include:
a) The process of communication (AC 1.1) and why communication within organisations is sometimes not effective (AC1.3), giving examples form SHDE Holdings

b) The modes of communication that should be used for different purposes (eg letter for formal communication with customers, telephone call for clarification of a complex matter, email for confirmation of detail). Please support this with an assessment of what other organisations do and examples of that could apply to SHDE (AC 1.2)

c) How organisations portray themselves through their communication. What image does SHDE Holdings currently have Give an assessment of other organisations and the images they portray through their communications (AC 2.3)

Task 2
Design an oral presentation (using presentation software) with supporting notes for the customer facing staff at SHDE Holdings. (AC 4.1, 4.3). Please include:

a) Formal communications systems that should be used to communicate with customers. Please evaluate different systems. (AC 2.1)

b) An analysis of the effectiveness of social media to communicate with customers. Please use current examples (AC 2.2)

c) An assessment of the impact of personal relationships on communications (AC 3.1)

d) An assessment of the impact of non-verbal communication on oral communications (AC 3.2)

Task 3

Please deliver your presentation to staff at SHDE Holdings represented by XXX (AC 4.2)

Task 4

Please attend a meeting with me. Using the written and oral communications from the tasks you have just completed, I will need you to:
a) Assess the effectiveness of your oral presentation skills (AC 4.4)
b) Review your written communication (AC 5.4) including the conventions you have used (AC 3.4)
c) Assess the impact of technology on both oral and written communications (AC 3.3)
d) Following our discussions I wish you to produce written documentation from this meeting (AC 5.2)

Report on SHDE Holdings
Asha Cumari
5 January 201X
1.0 Introduction

SHDE is an electrical supplier with a regional repair centres and shops. The organisation is currently experiencing operational problems that are affecting customer satisfaction. Many of these are outside the scope of this report. Training Solutions has been asked to focus on communication issues both within the company and with suppliers and customers.

2.0 Summary

SHDE Holding is an electrical company operating locally. They have been established for 10 years. However it is only in the past 3 years that their market has grown rapidly. Their turnover and payroll have tripled within the last year. It is anticipated to grow by a further 100% within 3 years.

They are currently experiencing high levels of customer complaints and staff turnover. The communication difficulties exist in all areas and at all levels of the business.

Two solutions are proposed: a training session and a report to inform and influence SMT and line managers
3.0 Research method

During week commencing 15 June, a consultant from Training Solutions spent 3 days at SHDE Holdings. The following research activities were carried out
• Desk review of customer complaints
• Desk review of policies and procedures
• Interviews with 10 staff including the Managing Director, Operations Manager, 2 shop floor staff, 2 delivery staff, the HR Manager, one payroll assistant, the receptionist and the Premises Manager

4.0 Findings

SHDE Holdings has expanded rapidly in the past 3 years. There has been a huge increase in complaints form both customers and suppliers. Staff morale is low and staff turnover high.

It is clear that this company value their customers and had a record of excellent internal and external customer relations. The SMT are shocked to find that complaints have increased by 50% and staff turnover is high. They acknowledge that there is a communications issue within the company

Customer complaints have risen by 50% within the last year. The causes for complaints are varied. Only 3 % concern the product itself. Over 55% of complaints concern delivery. (Most are about late delivery. The remainder are about delivery to an incorrect address). The delivery staff acknowledge these problems. They are sent notes in the internal post about changes to delivery details – and by the time they receive them the package has often been sent. Sometimes they are told about changes (verbally) and fail to write it down. There appears to be no formal system for communicating changes to orders.

25% of complaints concern poor face to face communication during the delivery of customer service on the shop floor. Some complaints referred to rudeness. One complaint made it clear that there was clearly conflict between staff on the shop floor. Other issues include misunderstandings, the fact that the store only sends texts to advise of delivery times and many of the older customers do not use texting. There are also poor letter skills, appearance of staff and the tone of some of the communications received are inappropriate.

There are no formal communication policies and procedures. As a result:
• there is no protocol for answering the phone
• complaints are often not acknowledged (and it may take some weeks for a formal response)
• there is no standard protocol for internal communication – some use internal post, others use email or word of mouth
• the company Facebook page was recently used to inform customers of product changes
• suppliers are not dealt with consistently
• communication between line managers and their staff is random. There appear to be no regular meetings to disseminate and gather information.
• The SMT do not meet regularly

5.0 Conclusions

The communication problems at SHDE Holdings affect all areas of the business. All levels of staff are hindered by poor communications within the company and the customers are badly served. There is huge potential for the growth of this company but for this to materialise these issues must be addressed.

6.0 Recommendations

6.1 A series of training workshops is required for customer facing staff. These workshops to be delivered to all staff and cover both internal and external communication
6.2 In order to improve performance SMT need to be advised of best practice in terms of organisational communication. A formal report for the senior staff and line managers at SHDE Holdings should be provided

Guidelines for assessors

The assignments submitted by students must achieve the learning outcomes and meet the standards specified by the assessment criteria for the unit. The suggested evidence listed below is how students can demonstrate that they have met the required standards.

Task number Assessment criteria Suggested evidence
1. 1.1, 1.2, 1.3,
5.1, 5.3 Formal report
2. 2.1, 2.2
3.1, 3.2
4.1, 4.3 Oral presentation, presentation slides,
presentation notes, witness testimony
3 4.2 Witness testimony
4 3.3, 3.4
5.2, 5.4 Witness testimony, written preparation documentation, minutes
Suggested Resources
Amos, J (2002) Making Meetings Work, How to Books

Brake, David (2003) Dealing with E-mail, Dorling Kindersley

Brounstein, Marty (2001) Communicating Effectively for Dummies, John Wiley & Sons Inc

Heller, R (1998) Communicating Clearly, Dorling Kindersley

Hindle, T & Heller, R (1998) Managing Meetings, Dorling Kindersley

Hindle, T (1998) Making Presentations, Dorling Kindersley

Khan-Panni, Phillip (2001) 2-4-6-8 How do you Communicate , How to Books

McConnon, S (2002) Presenting with Power, How to Books

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