Communication culture: how we in Audimania have created our communication system

    For a long time, only the telephone was the main means of communication in the business: customers, contractors and employees themselves actively used numerous numbers and additional numbers.

    Now contacts are gradually “leaking” into the Network: communication with business representatives on Facebook, Viber, Telegram and, of course, is not surprising to anyone.

    Despite all this diversity, customers of online stores often find themselves in an information vacuum - their letters remain unanswered, they do not pay attention to questions in instant messengers, and even angry texts with the “tagging” of a company on Facebook do not lead to solving a problem or question. And this is much more critical for customers than a delayed courier.

    Therefore we have in Audiommania It has developed its own special “culture of communication” - with customers, suppliers and its own employees: in our work, consulting clients and competent interaction within departments play an important role, and we leave categorically disagree with some of them.

    Photo Duru ... / CC

    Director of Marketing and Business Development Audiomanii Timothy Shikolenko timshick talks about how the business works, much of which is built around communication, and why sometimes samopisnye solutions for communication may be better than a dozen ready-made applications.

    Of course, the choice of a communication solution will depend on the tasks that you face - it is impossible to impose one system on everyone at once, no matter how good and convenient it is. Therefore, we share the means of communication in areas of work, whether it is interaction with suppliers, with customers or with other employees within the company (this does not mean that we have three independent solutions, but more on that later). Tell about everything in order.

    The purchasing department is what the [conservative] supplier likes.

    We do not limit the way we communicate with suppliers. Usually our main tools are Skype, mail or phone. Our suppliers are sometimes very conservative, so the purchasers on computers even have icq.

    Communication with suppliers for our manager means that he will interact for a long time with a specific person on the side of our counterparty. Therefore, in this case, it does not give us great inconvenience to use the format to which this person on the side is used to. The main thing - to make it work.

    Internal communications - a minimum of third-party solutions ...

    As for internal communication between employees, we try to minimize the use of any external products. This is not done in order to work “only with his own”: our task in this case is to make communication as efficient as possible and take away as little time as possible from employees.

    Our own system allows you to exchange information between departments without third-party instant messengers. In fact, our system is not a messenger at all. If in many companies, communication between departments via telephone or Slack is used, we have communication in general - these are the staffing tools of each employee.

    For example, if an order is received for a product that is not in stock, the sales manager, after talking with the customer, gives the order to purchase the goods. In fact, it is a single button press. Of course, he can provide his application with a text commentary, which may be different for each position.

    An employee of the purchasing department sees this application in his journal, works it out, and, if necessary, also provides a comment. For example, "no green, there are yellow, green will be in a week."

    The results of the processing of applications come in the form of short messages within the system. But only when there is a real need for it. For example, information about the results of the successful delivery of the goods to the sales employee does not come. What for? He has nothing to do with it. But if you have any questions - comes. In many cases, the system itself "understands" what to do, and creates applications automatically. This saves employee time to make a decision.

    The system of internal alerts came to us about 8 years ago. Actually, by itself it is very simple, and one programmer was engaged in its development (then we had more developers and did not have). Since then, a huge number of reasons have appeared to use this system. New triggers are constantly connected to it - situations when you need to inform someone about something, remind someone of something.

    However, sometimes "informal" communication is necessary. We mainly use Skype. Although some departments introduce other services, for example, the technical department communicates with each other using Telegram.

    ... and introduce the rules of communication

    We have an unwritten rule - if a conversation via an instant messenger takes more than two minutes and you do not need to send any data, then you need to switch to voice. So faster. Speed ​​is very important, so we have banned emails with more than two recipients. It never brought anything good to anyone.

    For notifications about innovations or any corporate news, we use an internal corporate blog, where comments are available. Alerts about new messages in it come through the alert system (also our development). As a result, messages come only to those concerned. The extra information is a waste of time and, consequently, a decrease in efficiency.

    Photo by Andrew Gustar / CC

    What is important is not the channel, but our prompt and useful answer.

    Now for customers: we do not communicate with them via instant messengers. The reason is that there are many different messengers, and it is almost impossible to integrate them all into one system. Moreover, customers really do not need it. They need to get help quickly, the answer to the question.

    To do this, we have our own online consultation system that has been operating for many years. She is unobtrusive, does not "jump" on the client and does not require contact information. If the client wants to ask a question - he will ask. 

    In addition, we are quite active correspondence using e-mail. To organize effective work with this channel, we even wrote a special tool, which we called Audiocomm. This is a kind of ticketing system, only “sharpened” for our tasks.

    Audiocomm was originally conceived as a universal communicator - a means of communicating with customers, regardless of the channel on which the request came. The employee sees the message, sees if it is public or not (whether other people will see the answer) and responds accordingly. A key element of the functionality of this system is the routing module, which is responsible for the visibility of specific messages by specific people, as well as for the message to be seen by other employees in the absence of a response.

    The main problem that we solved was in communication with customers by e-mail. People write to the addresses that they have. For example, the address of a sales employee who last wrote to them. And this employee, for a minute, maybe on vacation, he may have a day off, after all, he may already quit. The client should not care about all this. He should get an answer to his question anyway.

    Therefore, we decided that the address to which the client sends their request does not matter. We analyze the client's past activity - who worked with his orders, which product group met in his orders (that is, what audience he belongs to), how he evaluated the employee with whom he had worked before, through our quality management system (after all, if he appreciated bad, but still appeals to our company, it means that you should think about giving him another employee). There are a lot of criteria, and this is our main know-how.

    Then another important point. If the letter is addressed to a specific employee, and he is now in the workplace, then we give him the opportunity to respond within two hours. If he did not answer for some reason, then the letter will be seen by all the staff of his group (that is, those who work with this target audience). We clearly distinguish between target audiences for products of interest, therefore, our sales staff are also “segmented”.

    If, however, it is impossible to determine the type of customer’s audience, for example, this is his first appeal, then his message will be visible to all employees of the sales department until someone takes him to work. After the message is taken into work, it can still be “taken away” from this employee and transferred both to another consultant and to another group of managers working with this audience.

    About three months passed from the start of development to the first launch of Audiocomm. This product is written entirely by one programmer. At the same time, a lot of time was spent on planning the system, thinking through logic. Three more people participated in this process. Also in the course of implementation was introduced many adjustments.

    Our employees are the eternal beta testers of our solutions. This has both pros and cons. This is especially critical when a fundamentally new product is launched that changes their usual course of work. In these cases, we collect employees in advance, tell them what we are doing, why, and what happiness will come after the launch. Of course, the process is not without problems.

    Sometimes there are difficulties with getting used to new products, as well as with technical issues that periodically arise at first. The main thing - we are always there and ready to help. And employees are ready to report their inconveniences.

    At the same time, with all our internal systems, employees work quietly outside the office - there are all the necessary tools for this. But we do not have a mobile version. It is not necessary. True, on the tablet you can work with our systems, and quite comfortably.

    What we came to

    So, despite the fact that in the course of the story, we separately focused on purchases, work within the team and work with clients, we do not have three independent communication systems. There is a set of several custom solutions:

    1. Audiocomm is a system for working with e-mail, where we plan to connect other means of communication that do not require a response in real time (this is the case, for example, with online consultations - we have “question-answer” and “comments” sections on our website. "Through which people also often ask questions).

    2. The alert system, which is connected to all modules of our large communication system. Alert can come from anywhere. And our development informs employees about various events that have happened, reminds of necessary actions, etc. To date, 2,568,494 messages have been sent to the system.

    3. The rest is not a separate system, it is rather “strings” of a logical connection between various tools and journals, necessary in those areas of our work that involve interaction between people. For example, you need to buy goods for a specific order - an employee of the sales department presses the “buy” button and sees the result - the application has been sent to the purchase journal to an employee of the relevant department. An employee of the purchasing department takes the necessary actions and changes the status of the application, which is displayed in the tool for working with orders. All this is not some kind of separate system. This is a clever interplay of various tools that simplify communication between employees within a company.

    4. Of course, all this does not preclude the use of the phone, Skype, e-mail and instant messengers - but significantly reduces our need for them.

    Why we did it all

    The main plus of all our developments is close integration. That is, for the employee - this is one system. It does not need to switch even between tabs in the browser. It is located inside a tool, where the toolbar at the right time begins to "blink" the icon of a message.

    This level of convenience can be achieved only by native applications. But our employees work on completely different devices with different operating systems. Therefore, we made it so that they are not worried about the compatibility of devices and solutions - everything happens in the browser.

    This internal communications system is an excellent way to increase employee efficiency. They do not need to call anywhere, look for the right colleagues to get information, “hang” on the phone, as often happens in other companies (even a phone call to a client, our employee can do with a single click on the number in the interface, after which you can just pick up the phone phone, without dialing anything extra).

    Work with orders, purchases, deliveries occurs completely asynchronously. And the information is delivered to where it is expected. Each tool is optimized for a specific employee role. In addition, the alert system helps not to forget to perform the necessary actions.

    It makes sense to think about such a decision when you have the opportunity to support it normally. We have one person technical support. And that's enough. It is clear that sometimes you need user support. For this, other employees are connected, but this is rarely needed. We are seriously working on interfaces and terminology, which allows us to get involved in the work almost immediately, so we are hardly required to train employees separately in innovations.

    As for Audiocomm, here we solved a lot of communication problems: there are no more complaints about the lack of a response within a reasonable time, although they were before. Plus - we have added comfort to employees who no longer need to keep in mind (or on a “piece of paper”) information about what someone needs to answer, but there is no data on the subject of interest yet.

    As a result, unlike normal mail processing, you cannot forget about the letter, because the letter needs to be “worked out”, that is, either answered or clicked the appropriate button if no action is required, for example, when the client sent thanks for the previous message.


    So, our experience in optimizing communication processes suggests that first of all you should pay attention to the following points:

    Enter simple rules of communication for which you do not need to invent any special systems. For a start, you can use our example: to motivate employees to use the phone more often instead of the messenger, if the conversation is going to be long, and less likely to put colleagues in a copy, if there is no special need for this.

    When choosing the main interaction system, think not only about reaching as many employees as possible and making their communication faster and more comfortable, but also about protecting your colleagues from unnecessary and unnecessary information .

    When interacting with suppliers, it is quite possible to “go over them” in choosing a means of communication. As a rule, on the side of a partner a small group of people will communicate with your manager, and this communication will be long . Therefore, the likelihood that your employee will have to jump from one system to another is very small here.

    The ability to communicate with the client in all imaginable and unthinkable messengers and systems may seem attractive, but there are quite a few pitfalls: can your employees monitor all these communication channels? How quickly will they respond to requests in different formats? Will it be possible to integrate all this into one system?

    Sometimes it’s much easier to limit to a few standard email, phone and online consultant - because your quick, accurate and detailed answer is much more important to the client, and not that you can send him a sticker in Telegram.

    Following our example and creating our own system for internal communications is not as difficult and scary as it looks at first glance. As you can see, all our tasks were implemented by very modest forces and for quite adequate periods. The main thing in this process is to involve in the development of the logic of the system those who are responsible for the relevant business processes, understand the intricacies of the work of the departments, and not shift the tasks to the programmer.

    PS “ Your online store from A to Z ” is Timshik Shikolenkov’s book by timshick about everything related to the work of an online store: from its creation and selection of its niche to promotion, development and work with customers.

    The full version of one of the chapters of the book - Assortment Planning: "Hypermarket" vs. "Boutique" .

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