The decorated apparel and merchandise business is highly detailed and involves a lot of moving parts, from ordering to fulfillment and beyond. Poor or unclear communication during any stage of these nuanced processes can lead to poor experiences for your customers and end consumers.
The most common culprits of miscommunication include:
Illegible handwriting on order forms or internal documents
Mislabeled or misread deadlines or dates
Incomplete or incorrect information such as decoration type, colors, or placement
Unclear or ambiguous notes or instructions
Without clear communication, orders can be missed, products can be decorated incorrectly, or items can be delivered late. The result? A poor experience that could result in an unfavorable review from your customer. And reviews matter! One study found that a single bad review can lead to an average of 30 lost customers.
Many dealers, distributors, and decorators rely on positive reviews and word-of-mouth referrals to generate new business. In fact, ASI research found that 79% of decorators say referrals are their top source of new business. This makes it increasingly important for communication to be clear so projects are completed correctly and on time.
While you can’t control what customers or accounts say about your business, there are things you can control that contribute to positive experiences. Providing high quality products that are well decorated, and fulfilling orders on time, are key to creating great experiences for your customers and end consumers. Improving Team communication is where it all starts...
How to ensure great internal communication
An essential part of building a high performing and communicative Team is coming together for Team meetings. Establishing a consistent channel for cross-functional communication helps ensure nothing falls through the cracks - especially in terms of customer projects. This is particularly important when there are numerous steps involved in a project or a high level of customization for an order.
Aside from order errors, breakdowns in communication can also result in destructive dynamics, such as Teammates blaming others, withholding information, or avoiding responsibility for a mistake altogether. Team meetings help to prevent this by providing an open and safe environment for everyone to share information - good and bad - so that potential problems can be quickly identified and addressed.
The best Team meetings are efficient - they’re just long enough to cover the relevant topics and not a minute longer. This way, Team members can be engaged in the meeting, and feel that the time spent there out of their busy day is valuable. Meetings should be scheduled with enough time for discussion and questions to ensure everyone’s voice is heard and the Team is aligned.
Additionally, quick daily touchpoints are another option for fostering consistent communication. For example, holding 15-minute daily stand-up meetings with your immediate Team is a great way to start the day off on the right foot. This informal touchpoint allows each individual to share their big priorities for the day, as well as potential roadblocks, which helps to get everyone on the same page. Daily stand-up meetings can be particularly helpful during times where Team members are working remotely.
Figuring out the right type of meeting and optimal length may require some trial and error, but is an important balance to find to protect your Team’s time and keep things running smoothly.
One-on-one meetings with the Team members you manage provides a great avenue to review goals, discuss performance, and uncover ways to better support your Team. These meetings also provide an opportunity to identify potential issues or bottlenecks before they arise.
Just like Team meetings, one-on-one’s should provide a safe and open communication channel for the Team member to be heard. Not only does this allow for information to flow freely, it also gives the Team member the chance to express their ideas, ask questions, and share personal goals that may be beneficial to the business as a whole.
One way to achieve this is to leverage the Servant Leadership approach. This leadership style emphasizes asking questions and listening closely, as well as showing encouragement and trust.
Formal one-one-one meetings should be scheduled at a cadence that works best for you and your Team member. Frequencies can range from once a week to once a month. Finding the right cadence here may again require trial and error, so communicate freely with the Team member to come to a solution together.
Communication Processes and Tools
Multifaceted processes, functional Teams, and a healthy pipeline of projects are all signs of a growing company. However, these indicators also mean streamlined communication is essential to keep the business moving in the right direction. Establishing communication processes and equipping your Team with the right tools is paramount.
First, ensure that internal processes and FAQ’s are documented and easily accessible. This allows Team members to reference the information if they have a question, and can help facilitate smooth onboarding for new Team members. Storage tools like Google Drive and One Drive can be designed and organized in a way that makes documents secure and simple to find. They also have free versions available, so you can test them out first!
Next, it’s important to provide easy-to-use communication tools. Tools like GroupMe, Zoom, Trello and Slack are great tools for providing seamless communication between Teams. There are also free versions of these tools, so try a few out and see what your Team prefers. It can be helpful to establish guidelines around the type of communication that’s best for each channel. For example, instant message and chat tools like Slack are helpful for simple questions or updates, while email is a better medium for larger requests with more detailed information.
The caveat is that processes and tools only work as well as the Team uses them. Develop plans to roll them out to the Team so everyone is bought in and adopts the new processes and tools.
How OMG Supports Team Communication
Order fulfillment is one of the most detailed and nuanced parts of doing custom orders for groups like Teams, organizations, and companies. OMG recognizes that internal communication is paramount to the success of the dealers, distributors and decorators we serve, so we have built essential communication tools to facilitate this process.
Pre-built work orders make it easy to see all the information you need to decorate products after a store closes. Work Orders keep everyone on the same page by standardizing communication across all points of the fulfillment process. Eliminating unnecessary back and forth communication speeds up the fulfillment process and saves valuable time. Using Work Orders also reduces errors, misprints, and potential problems before they happen leading to a positive experience for your customers.
Example Work Order
Custom Statuses make it simple to track and manage orders at every step of the fulfillment process. Statuses can be tailored to match your internal process and workflow, as well as the terminology your Team is familiar with. This makes it easy to quickly identify the status of an order and ensures that multi-faceted projects move smoothly through the fulfillment process. Consumers receive their products quickly, leading to happy repeat customers for you.
Example of Custom Statuses
Test out a few of these tips and initiatives to improve Team communication and ensure incredible customer experiences.
OrderMyGear is an industry-leading sales tool, empowering dealers, distributors, decorators, and brands to create custom online pop-up stores to sell branded products and apparel. Since 2008, OMG has been on a mission to simplify the process of selling customized merchandise to groups and improve the ordering experience. With easy-to-use tools, comprehensive reporting, and unmatched support, the OMG platform powers online stores for over 3,000 clients generating more than $1 billion in online sales. Learn more at www.ordermygear.com.
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