Effective Business Communication Case Study

Question

Case study:
A multi-national organisation operates in various countries including Australia, Vietnam, India, Oman, and Nigeria. The organisation manufactures and distributes agricultural equipment to local and international clients. In total the organisation has 8,000 employees in five countries and more than 1 million customers worldwide. The head office is based in Australia. In recent years the organisation is facing several communication challenges.

They include:

  1. Ineffective use of social media such as blogs, wikis, social networks to support teams in sharing ideas, building knowledge bases and task management.
  2. Lack of quality feedback from clients on ways to improve product quality and service delivery
  3. Misunderstandings and lack of trust based upon intercultural communication issues in different contexts

Your manager has asked you to develop strategies and plans to improve communication at all levels In order to complete this task, you will need to review relevant academic literature and case studies to provide evidence and examples.

Answer

Introduction: Effective business communication is perceived as the key to accomplishing sustainable improvement in the performance of a business. The necessity for communication within the organization as well as in the external context is profoundly observed in the modern business environment that is characterized by drastic changes consistently.

  1. Description of organization: The following assessment is directed towards evaluation of the case of a multinational organization headquartered in Australia which deals with manufacturing and distribution of agricultural equipment with a prominent local as well as international client base. The organization’s workforce comprises of 8000 employees with its operations spread across five different countries namely Australia, India, Vietnam, Nigeria and Oman (Adnan & Jambari, 2016). Another profound highlight that can be noticed in the case of the selected organization is the formidable customer base which accounts for more than 1 million customers all over the world.
  2. Primary Purpose of the Report: The primary purpose of the report is vested in addressing the communication challenges encountered by the case study organization in recent times. The report would aim at evaluating the communication-related issues faced by the organization and develop reasonable insights for resolving the issues.
  3. Scope of report: The scope of the report would include the three notable communication issues that would be evaluated by referring to literature available with references to the three issues. The scope of the report would also imply that there would be no consideration for the influence of additional factors that influence effective business communication and would focus mainly on the three concerned issues. The report would cover issues such as the use of social mediaas a resource for business communication, feedback’s significance and the necessity of intercultural communication.
  4. Report outcome: The report outcome would be primarily identified in the comprehensive interpretation of the nature of the issues and the factors that promoted them that can help in deriving strategic recommendations for addressing the issues (Asante, Miike & Yin, 2013). The report outcome would also emphasize the implementation aspects of the recommendations alongside establishing metrics for ascertaining the success or failure of the recommendations.
  5. Structure Preview: The structure of the report would be divided into four distinct sections with the first section denoting an introductory statement regarding the scope and purpose of the report. The next section would present an analysis of the situation encountered by the case study organization that would be illustrated in the form of critical review of literature with respect to the three issues identified for the organization. The third section of the report presents a concluding summary of the discussions in the assessment which is followed by presenting recommendations for addressing the individual issues (Bennett, 2017).

Analysis: Communication is an imperative factor for ensuring success and prosperity of a business organization. The use of communication is not limited to the scope of conveying information but also for crucial business activities that include motivation of the workforce, coordination among different departments or business units of organization and most important of all for management decision making(Breakenridge, 2017). The case of the selected organization in this report reflects profoundly on the communication challenges such as ineffective use of social media for improved support for teams in the organization to develop knowledge bases, sharing information and ideas as well as supporting the management of tasks. Other notable communication challenges identified in the case of the selected organization are identified in limitations for acquiring quality feedback from clients that could cater the needs for improvement in service delivery and product quality (Buenviaje, et al., 2016). Furthermore, the organization also experiences pitfalls in intercultural communication that are responsible for large-scale setbacks in the form of lack of trust and misunderstanding among employees in the different geographical jurisdictions where the organization operates(Apparaju, 2016).This section of the report would present a comprehensive illustration of literature review in the case of the three communication challenges to ascertaining the possible alternatives and the nature of the issues as well as their influence on the organization’s effectiveness in the short term as well as long-term(Hall, 2017).

  1. Issue 1: Social Media
    The use of social media has become a common and mandatory element in the society due to its notable involvement with the behaviour and lifestyles of people. The effectiveness of social media as a tool for personal communication is considered as one of the prominent reasons for its increasing popularity. As per Haslinda, et al(2016), a clear overview of literature sources depicting the implementation of social media as a tool for business communication could provide major insights into the approaches used for business communication in social media and the influence of additional factors such as nature of the social media on its use(Haslinda, et al., 2016). Online marketing and communication have improved many setbacks that were prominent in traditional methods. According to Holmes &Parker(2017), the development of the internet in 1991 has been a notable determinant of the changes in the world of communication (Holmes & Parker, 2017). The internet facilitated options for removing potential obstacles from the communication process and enabling collaboration as well as introducing synchronous communication through instant messages and chat rooms that imply real-time communication. The term social media can be defined as the collection of internet-based applications that facilitate options for creation and sharing of user-generated content (Ayob, 2017).
  2. Primary Elements: The primary elements that can be identified in social media are blogs, social networking sites and social search applications and platforms. As per House(2014), the explicitly accessible and scalable communication technologies identified in social media are responsible for the capability of social media for introduction of formidable and substantial changes in communication between individuals, communities,and organizations(House, 2014). The implementation of social media for communication is primarily based on the principle of improved availability and is responsible for developing groups on the social networking sites and other platforms on the basis of educational level, social status or nationality that are found in the real world social groups and classes(Jandt, 2017).

    Implementation of Social Media: The implementation of social media for communication and collaboration could also be justified on the grounds of six core principles that are accountable as the defining characteristics of social media. First of all, social media contributes to participation of various individuals in the society through mobilizing the community for contributing to the process of communication. This factor can be leveraged to improve communication within an organization’s various departments thereby leading to enhanced levels of participation of employees in the communication process. According to Manisaligil & Bilimoria(2016), the next significant aspect that can be noted in the case of social media is the collective nature of social media that implies the involvement of people in the creation of content rather than focusing on individual generation of content and distribution(Manisaligil & Bilimoria, 2016). The implications of transparency could also be identified as a core principle of social media which is identified in the form of references to the facilities for viewing, utilizing, reusing, improving, validating or critique of the content that is distributed on social media. The defining characteristic of independence in the case of social media could not be undermined as it specifically relies on the facilities for users to contribute independently without the involvement of another participant. The other core principles associated with the significance of social media are persistence and emergence which implies that content is provided in a persistent state enabling users to view, distribute and improve the content (Martin & Nakayama, 2013). The principle of emergence reflects on the flexibility for individual users to adapt to the changing needs of collaborative interactions which signifies the scope for adaptability in social media. As per Mindess(2014), the use of these core principles in the case of business communication can be aptly reflective of eliminating barriers pertaining to conventional approaches for business communication(Mindess, 2014). The example of transparency in the information sharing among employees could be a major motivation for improving the level of trust among employees alongside facilitating opportunities for presenting suggestions for collective involvement of employees in decision making.

    The application of social media also facilitates the features for real-time adaptability so that employees could be flexible in their approaches to communication rather than depending on a predefined framework for business communication (Nabi, Foysol & Adnan, 2017). The changes in the domain of communication can be accounted as a formidable aspect of the contemporary business environment. Furthermore, it is essential to reflect critically on the differences in application of social media for personal communication and business communication.

    According to Neuliep(2017), the primary challenges that are identified in the case of utilizing social media for communication in context of organizational purposes are identified in consciousness of individual employees regarding the pervasive impact of their personal life on their professional life as well as the training and development required for effective technology adoption(Neuliep, 2017). The use of social media for professional purposes could result in conflicts with the identity of an employee in their personal life which suggests that employees could be apprehensive regarding the use of social media for business communications. It is imperative to consider the impact of training and development needs for employees to cope effectively with the business approaches for communication. However, it is also essential to focus on the necessity of technology adoption primarily for the provision of reactive support as well as services of support and resolution.

    The use of social media for external context such as the purposes of marketing could be noted in various literature sources but the implementation of the resource for communication in the internal context is associated with the needs for establishing a comprehensive support network that can be accessed by the employees for accomplishing their allocated tasks and responsibilities through coordinated measures (Piller, 2017).

  3. Issue 2: Feedback:
    Communication in its generic form is associated with eight distinct components that are referred to in majority of communication theories. The components are independent of each other and are accounted as basic aspects of any communication process. According to Rojas, Rojas &Villamizar (2017), the components include the source, sender, receiver, channel, destination, context, message,and feedback. Feedback is considered as the sole element responsible for inducing a two-way communication process with respect to a specific message (Rojas, Rojas & Villamizar, 2017). Feedback can be defined as the reaction of the destination or the receiver to the source or sender of a message through direct or indirect channels. In the context of business communication, feedback within the internal, as well as external contexts of the organization, facilitates adequate scope for improvement of business operations and their effectiveness in catering the sustainability of a firm. The necessity of customer feedback is viewed from a significant perspective as it is aligned with the identification of the customer’s perception regarding a specific brand on the grounds of their experience of the brand’s products and services thereby impinging formidable impacts on the business of the organizations.
  4. Customers have noticeable influence over the selection of brand according to their choices which are based on positive experiences of the brand’s products and services. Therefore companies are interested in collecting information and feedback from customers regarding the different transactions of customers with the brand and general attitudinal data that can be leveraged for accomplishing the objective of improving customer experience (Sadia, et al., 2016). However, various indications have suggested a prominent disparity between the collection of feedback and implementing necessary action according to the feedback which can be attributed to the lack of an integrated, systematic and organized process or framework for making use of collected feedback.

    The definition of customer feedback implies the possibilities for distinct forms but is generally obtained through surveys that can be conducted through various channels such as telephonic, online, mail or personal surveys. The surveys are generally focused on dimensions of customer experience that could be substantially critical for customer satisfaction and loyalty (Samovar, et al., 2014). The lack of customer feedback could be a major setback for planning and develop strategic approaches for product and service improvement and it is not necessary that the lack of availability of customers for obtaining feedback would always be responsible for this. In certain cases, the inappropriate treatment of the feedback data could render it irrelevant for obtaining valid insights to develop a necessary plan of action. Shen, et al. said that the general approach followed for treatment of customer feedback is their representation in the form of graphs and charts derived through comprehensive numerical analysis(Shen, et al., 2016). However, the reports are complex to understand thereby leading to setbacks in the implementation of an action plan to leverage customer feedback for improving products and services. Another potential reason for which feedback cannot be used to the advantage of the organization is identified in the superfluous complications associated with the process of executing the feedback in action.

    This factor could be largely attributed to the time taken for decision making from the available feedback which also implies delays in implementing action plans. Therefore a client-centric business has to be dependent on the dynamics of customer feedback management as a mandatory strategic approach through which it can accomplish the objectives of improving customer experience (Sorrells, 2015). Customer feedback management could be described as a process that enables the integration of customer feedback into operational processes such as customer support, account management, product management and sales thereby increasing their efficiency and orientation towards customers’ needs.

    Customer Feedback Management: The process of customer feedback management has to be associated with the mandatory implications towards systematic gathering of customer feedback data, critical analysis of data and interpretable dissemination of the feedback alongside information regarding follow-up actions. According to Stachova, Stacho &Vicen (2017), the effectiveness of customer feedback management is identified in the provision of response and profile data of customers in the responsibility of appropriate authorities that can implement the data for accomplishing business objectives. The business objectives of an organization could be accounted as the driving factors for implementation of customer feedback management (Stachova, Stacho & Vicen, 2017). For example, in context of marketing objectives, the customer feedback has to be directed towards development of marketing solutions tailored to the target audience and the definition of a message that could resonate with the audience. In the case of service objectives, the customer feedback is used to determine whether the products and service offerings, as well as support provided by the organization, are able to address customer expectations.

  5. Issue 3: Intercultural communication:
    Intercultural communication has become a prominent entity in the domain of business especially with large-scale improvements in globalization observed all over the world. The primary aspects of intercultural communication addressed in literature refer to the influence of culture on the perspective of individuals, communication theories in different cultural contexts and the common barriers to intercultural communication. As per Zheltukhina, et al(2017), majority of research on intercultural communication has been directed towards identifying and investigating the communication among people from distinct cultural backgrounds. The studies are generally associated with investigation of differences between separate cultural groups and the interactions between the groups(Zheltukhina, et al., 2017). Communication and culture can be accounted for the significant aspects of intercultural communication. Communication categorized into verbal and non-verbal communication is generally associated with the necessity of learning a foreign language for verbal communication and variations in standards of non-verbal communication according to the culture.
  6. The implications of culture could be identified through Hofstede’s model which conceptualizes culture as a combination of four distinct elements such as heroes, symbols, values,and rituals. Symbols are reflective of images, gestures, objects,and language that are recognized in specific cultures. Heroes could be identified in imaginary or real persons that are revered in a culture and are generally assumed as benchmarks for social behaviour (Manisaligil & Bilimoria, 2016). The element of Rituals reflects on the mandatory activities that are exercised at free will in a particular culture and can be defined in examples of religious customs or expressing respect to other people. These three facets are considered visible element of culture while the aspect of values forms the core component of culture and is generally vested in the preferences or tendencies of people to act in specific manners according to difference in situations.

    Influence of Culture on Perception: The influence of culture on perception of an individual is identified through the three phases of the process of perception that include selection, organization,and interpretation. Selection aspect of perception is vested in the perception for similar stimuli in a foreign environment that can be considered as responsible for the difficulties in understanding new languages that are different from the native language of the receiver. The perception is associated with organization of the selected information into an interpretable fashion and the organization is generally based on a specific attribute that is found commonly in a group (Rojas, Rojas & Villamizar, 2017). Interpretation is another notable determinant of the effectiveness of intercultural communication as similar situations, gestures or actions can be perceived differently by various people. According to Holmes &Parker (2017), the influence of cultural stereotypes is profoundly observed in the case of interpretations of people regarding culture. Another promising theoretical model that can be accounted for determining the influence of culture on communication in business is Hall’s high and low context culture concept (Holmes & Parker, 2017).

    High context culture is defined explicitly through the surrounding environment without the requirement for description while low context culture is dependent on communication through verbal communication. The low context cultures are highly dependent on detailing and specificity of verbal messages thereby leading to appreciation for verbal abilities in low context cultures. On the other hand, in the case of high context cultures, sensitivity towards nonverbal messages is profoundly observed and messages are generally presented in the physical context or through internalization in the person. High context cultures are generally associated with communication on behalf of a group rather than individual perspectives with emphasis on the use of intermediaries (Manisaligil & Bilimoria, 2016).

Conclusion: The assessment presented an introductory statement for the tasks that would be undertaken in the report with prominent emphasis on the scope and primary objective of the report alongside a description of the case of the multinational organization that is considered for evaluation. Then the report presents a literature review that helps in evaluation of the issues in communication encountered by the organization that leads to development of suitable recommendations that are presented in the final section of the report.

Recommendations: Based on the inferences derived from analysis of the issues encountered by the multinational corporation with respect to business communication, different recommendations can be suggested individually for the three issues evaluated in this assessment.

  1. Issue 1: social media: First of all, it is essential for the organization to address the use of technology adoption recommendations in order to help employees to improve their use of social media to coordinate for task management and sharing information. This measure has to be implemented by the human resources department of the organization at its five different locations in international markets and the various business units of the organization. The human resources department maintains direct contact with the workforce and is responsible for providing them with necessary training and support to improve their potential for delivering efficient performance in their tasks. The human resource department would have to work in unison with the technical department of the organization to select competent trainers that can assist employees in understanding the necessity of social media as a tool for intra organizational communication. The training and development schedule would also account for resolution of issues arising from the apprehensions of employees regarding the intervention of their professional activities on social media in their personal lives through communicating necessary information for managing security and preference settings on social media that can help in effective management of personal and professional profiles. The evaluation of the success or failure of the recommendation could be realized through the implementation of data analytics in order to figure out the involvement of employees with social media and the tasks accomplished through it. The evaluation would also provide insights into the social media platforms used frequently by employees that can help in tailoring business communications to the specific platform thereby encouraging higher employee engagement on social media.
  2. Issue 2: Feedback: In terms of feedback issues, the recommendation would be guided towards the implementation of an integrated customer feedback management process that can be realized throughout the different areas of operation of the multinational firm. The formidable customer base is a notable pitfall that can lead to complicacies in collection of feedback which could also be attributed to the lack of understanding of the context in which the data has to be collected. The use of the general mode of survey questionnaires should be directed towards the most basic aspects of customer experience such as product quality, product user experience,andproduct aesthetics. In the case of agricultural equipment, the product user experience and the conformity of the product to customer expectations of performance as well as effectiveness of customer support services should also be included as major entities in the survey questionnaires. The use of native language translators fordissemination of questionnaires could be a prolific contributor for accessing feedback that could be leveraged for product and service delivery improvement. The measurement of the effectiveness of the recommendation could be realized through using previous records of customer feedback in terms of volume and comparing it with the volume of feedback data obtained after implementing the suggested recommendation.
  3. Issue 3: Intercultural communication: The aspect of intercultural communication could be addressed through reflecting on the context of the culture in which communication is carried out which can be identified with diversity in the case of the concerned multinational firm. The company should prefer localized communication rather than standardization of the communication process that could lead to acceptance of the employees for the communication process. The reflection in distinct aspects of the host culture alongside the context of the culture could enable the organization to refrain from unacceptable behaviours and actions in different cultural contexts thereby leading to effective translation and perception of the communicated information. The success of the recommendation could be interpreted from the use of feedback within the internal environment of the organization obtained from employees that would depict the extent of perception of the messages communicated by the organization. The emphasis on values of the organization by the senior management could also be considered as a prolific measure for addressing the issues of intercultural communication through alignment of practices in accordance with the uniform values.

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