Understanding business communication is critical to the success of your company and its ability to remain competitive. However, effective business communication is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve: While 46% of business leaders consider clear communication a critical component of success, only 8% feel their teams possess the skills necessary to succeed.

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Business communication affects how your company functions at every level—internal processes and customer interactions rely on it. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know when it comes to delivering effective business communications:

What is business communication?

Business communication impacts every aspect of the business/organization and refers to how employees share information with each other, and with customers, partners, and more. This includes the following:

  • When team members interact with one another or with management
  • When employees interact with customers or clients
  • When a company makes new releases or launches a marketing campaign to the public

Assigning tasks to employees, receiving and responding to customer feedback, and publishing a press release are all examples of business communication.

The importance of effective communication at work

Without communication, your company cannot function. But whether or not your business communication is effective is the true differentiator between success and failure.

Business communication contributes to team success in several ways:

  • Increasing productivity by preventing costly mistakes, 86% of which are attributed to misunderstandings
  • Encouraging a healthy company culture and improving employee engagement and performance by up to 10%
  • Improving brand reputation by building positive, meaningful relationships with employees as well as customers, 60% of whom consider trust a significant factor in their loyalty to a brand
  • Reducing employee turnover by up to 50% and customer and client churn by up to 70%

So what makes business communication effective? Grammarly has identified five key determining factors:

1 Clarity ensures your message is understood.

2 Conciseness helps streamline communication and improves efficiency.

3 Propriety promotes mutual respect and harmony.

4 Credibility builds trust and positions your brand as reliable and authoritative.

5 Engagement motivates your audience to respond to your message as desired.

These elements are essential across all types and methods of communication, regardless of the industry you operate in or your company’s specific role within it. 

Types of business communication

Beneath the expansive umbrella of general business communication, Grammarly has identified two different types of business communication explained below. Understanding the specific characteristics and challenges of communication can help you and your team members collaborate effectively in any situation.

First, business communication can be broken down into two basic categories: internal and external. Internal communications can be further broken down into several types. Let’s take a closer look at each.

Internal business communication

Internal business communication refers to interactions between team members, including leadership. 

Internal communication is vital to creating strategies and systems for success. The more effectively various teams and team members can communicate, the more they will collectively achieve.

Implementing a few simple best practices for internal communication can improve outcomes significantly. Being open, honest, and direct are examples.

There are three types of internal business communication:

  • Upward communication: when direct reports reach out to managers, or managers reach out to top-level executives or business owners
  • Downward communication: when executives reach out to managers or managers connect with direct reports
  • Lateral communication: interactions between team members or leaders of equal standing within the organization

Each of these requires a slightly different approach to ensure everyone practices proper etiquette throughout. 

External business communication

External business communication refers to interactions between employees and customers, clients, and the general public. This includes individual conversations as well as mass communications.

  • Individual communication: one-on-one interactions between team members and customers or clients, e.g., customer support chats
  • Mass communication: messages shared with targeted audience groups and/or the general public, e.g., advertisements or blog posts

Honing your team’s customer communication skills will empower team members to provide the best possible experience in all circumstances—resulting in happier customers and employees.

Methods of business communication

Thanks to recent advances in communication technology, many methods for connecting have emerged, including verbal and written communications. Before diving into specific methods, let’s look at a few broad categories and what they encompass.

In-person vs. remote communication

In-person communication may occur between team members (e.g., an internal meeting) or between employees and customers or clients (e.g., an in-person consultation). In-person communication plays an essential part in the daily operations of many companies around the world.

Remote communication, such as a phone call or email, relies on technology to forge connections across long distances—technology that has progressed in leaps and bounds in recent years. Almost all modern companies use remote communication; many rely on it for most or even all of their communications.

Synchronous vs. asynchronous communication

Synchronous communication occurs in real-time so that the conversation happens simultaneously for all people involved. All in-person communication is synchronous, but so are many forms of remote communication—for example, sales phone calls, video conferences, and instant messaging.

Asynchronous communication takes place over time; how long it takes depends on the response times of each individual involved. Unlike synchronous channels, asynchronous communication allows for a larger gap between when a message is sent and when a response is expected. Examples include email, text support, and connecting through project management platforms.

Verbal, written, and visual communication

Verbal communication involves using spoken language to convey meaning. This can take place in person or remotely via phone or video. Verbal communication can also be synchronous or asynchronous. Examples of the latter include prerecorded presentations or radio advertisements.

Written communication can also be synchronous, as is the case with live chat support, or asynchronous, as is the case with e-newsletters or reports. Unlike verbal communication, in which tone can often be perceived simply by listening, written communication relies on careful word choice and structure to convey tone as well as meaning.

Visual communication uses imagery to convey information and meaning. Print and television advertisements, for example, often rely on images like pictures and video to catch the audience’s attention and convey a significant amount of meaning quickly—even across language barriers. Visual communication also includes sign language.

An ultimate list of business communication methods with examples

The rate of progress in communication technology is constantly increasing, and it can be challenging to keep up with which channels are current versus which have become obsolete. To help, Grammarly has compiled a quick overview of the main communication methods and when to use them for internal and external communications. Click on the specific communication type below to learn more about it.

Advertisements

Type: Remote, asynchronous, written and/or visual and/or verbal

Description: Written, visual, or video advertisements are some of the oldest methods for companies to reach out to potential customers to share information and convey brand personality. While usually an external form of communication, advertisements may occasionally be used internally as well.

Internal examples: Posting a new job opening or promotion opportunity on a bulletin board

External examples: Television or streaming advertisements, billboards, pay-per-click ads

Blogs/websites

Type: Remote, asynchronous, written and/or visual and/or verbal

Description: Blogs and other website content can be a great way to share more in-depth information about products and services as well as brand identity. Blogs and websites are typically public-facing, though some content may specifically target current and potential future employees.

Internal examples: A company culture page or a “day in the life” blog post that shows potential applicants what to expect if they apply to a specific position within the company

External examples: Product and service web pages or thought leadership content (like this page) that shares helpful information relevant to the company’s products or services

Company intranet

Type: Remote, asynchronous, written

Description: Private web-based communication portals allow team members to communicate with one another and with customers—and organize those communications in a way that promotes productivity. 

Internal examples: A project management platform that allows team members to track and assign tasks, leave comments, and send direct messages to coworkers and managers

External examples: A password-protected client communication portal that may include a support forum, an AI-based chatbot, and/or the option to chat directly with a customer service team member

Email

Type: Remote, asynchronous, written and/or visual

Description: Communications via email that do not fall under the other categories below are ideal for messages that do not require the recipient to respond immediately (if at all).

Internal examples: Conversations between coworkers or project updates from managers to team members

External examples: Potential customers/clients reaching out for more info about a product or mass marketing communications (e.g., newsletters)

Face-to-face meetings

Type: In-person, synchronous, verbal and/or visual

Description: Face-to-face meetings are ideal for conversations that require privacy or are relevant only to a single individual or small group—especially when sensitive topics are involved. 

Internal examples: Candidate job interviews, individual progress reports, or discussing account-specific problems and solutions

External examples: Customer consultations, in-person retail sales, or serving customers at a restaurant 

Live chat

Type: Remote, synchronous, written

Description: Instant messaging via mobile or desktop devices is preferable when communicating remotely but requires immediate responses.

Internal example: Asking a remote coworker a quick question via an internal chat channel

External example: Live chat support for customers

Phone meetings

Type: Remote, synchronous, verbal

Description: While video calls are ideal for building rapport, meeting over the phone may be the better option if participants do not feel comfortable on video or do not have access to quality video conferencing technology.

Internal examples: An employee requesting PTO to recover from an illness or a manager hosting a small team meeting to brainstorm strategies for success

External examples: A customer calling a tech support line for help installing a new product or a client calling a company to request more information about their services

Presentations

Type: Remote or in-person, synchronous or asynchronous, verbal and/or written and/or visual

Description: Presentations can be shared face-to-face or via video and are a tried-and-true method of sharing vital information with specific groups of people. Presentations may be live (ideal if it includes a Q&A session) or prerecorded

Internal examples: A company-wide training on professional conduct or a team lead presenting progress updates on a current project

External examples: Discussing account health updates with clients or webinars discussing new technologies developed by or for the company

Reports (and other business documents)

Type: Remote, asynchronous, written and/or visual

Description: Business documents, including reports, are an excellent way to share information that recipients may need to refer to again in the future, or when a paper trail is needed to ensure accountability. 

Internal examples: Business cases, project proposals, or business memos

External examples: Account health reports for clients or customer service reports

Social media channels

Type: Remote, asynchronous, written and/or verbal and/or visual

Description: Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn allow users to post text (and, often, images and video) and reach specific audiences using hashtags, targeted ads, and more. Social media is generally public-facing, although most platforms do offer the option of a more private profile.

Internal examples: Sharing a post about an industry topic employees might find interesting

External examples: Posting about a new product or sharing a quick “behind-the-scenes” video clip

Surveys/feedback channels 

Type: Remote, asynchronous, written

Description: Surveys and other “feedback box” options allow employees and customers to share how they feel about your brand. You can then respond directly with an answer or indirectly by using the feedback to make improvements in your processes, products, or services.

Internal examples: A physical box into which employees can drop written feedback or an anonymous online survey about company culture

External examples: Online customer reviews and ratings or client satisfaction surveys

Texting 

Type: Remote, asynchronous, written

Description: Unlike live chat, text communications may be responded to quickly, slowly, or not at all, depending on the context. Text is ideal for both one-on-one conversations and mass communications.

Internal examples: A team member texting a coworker in another building to ask a brief question or a manager sending a text reminder to all team members about an upcoming company event

External examples: Sending a customer an automated text thanking them for a purchase or for making a reservation or sending a mass text to opted-in subscribers about a limited-time offer

Video conferences

Type: Remote, synchronous, verbal

Description: Live video calls are ideal when you need to speak face-to-face with a group or individual but cannot do so in person. Keep in mind that for a video call to be successful, you need a stable platform and internet connection to avoid distracting technical difficulties.

Internal examples: A team lead introducing new team members to a remote team or a manager discussing performance issues with an individual employeeExternal examples: Introducing a client to the remote team assigned to their account or walking a customer through troubleshooting an issue with a product

Your company may not use all of these communication methods, but you will likely need a combination of many of them to be successful. Being aware of your options and knowing which channel will be best suited to any given situation will ensure your message is not only communicated well but also thoroughly understood.

How to improve business communication skills at your company

True mastery of any skill takes time and patience and may involve acquiring and distributing educational materials, providing training opportunities, implementing new systems for tracking individual progress, and more. However, there are steps you can take now to upgrade your business communication skills rapidly, without cutting corners.

If you’re not sure where to begin:

If your team struggles to collaborate productively:

If your team needs help communicating with customers and clients directly:

You may also want to conduct a communications audit to determine more specific areas for improvements, such as clarity, conciseness, or appropriate use of tone. Use that information to fine-tune your strategy for moving forward.

The future of business communication

Communication has always been a cornerstone of business operations, but as methods and expectations for connectivity continue to evolve, the role of communication will only become more valuable.

According to an executive survey by McKinsey, 64% of business leaders in the US agree that companies should lead the charge in closing global skills gaps and preparing employees for the future of work.

 Exploring practical ways to improve your team’s verbal and written communication skills will help keep your company ahead of the curve and on track for long-term stability and growth.

Remote work has skyrocketed in recent years, with an estimated 25% of employees now working from home. This trend is likely to continue upward as communication becomes increasingly digital.

Developing digital communication strategies will improve digital literacy and help team members collaborate effectively even from afar.

Customer expectations around connectivity and customer service have evolved drastically, and standards regarding ethical conduct and honest, empathetic communications will likely continue to rise as time goes on. Currently, 80% of customers believe their experience of connecting with a brand is just as important as the quality of their products or services.

Learn how your team can use technology to improve customer service communication.

Grammarly is an AI-driven virtual communication assistant that makes improving internal and external business communication quick and easy. To learn more about how Grammarly Business can help you and your team start collaborating more productively, contact us todayThe future may seem daunting if your team has yet to master basic communication skills—let alone more advanced methods and techniques. But if you equip them with the right strategies and the right business communication tools, they will have everything they need to not only meet but exceed company and customer expectations alike.

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