Focusing on Internal Customers

Communication is a vitally-important component of Continuous Improvement (CI) within an organization. Consider that, even if a team applies the CI methodology to great success but no one hears about it, the goal of making CI a cultural way of doing business will not catch on.

Good communication can also be a key driver of profitability as, if nothing else, it can reduce or eliminate the cost of miscommunication.

For example, an article published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) referenced a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each that cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees.

Even smaller businesses of 100 employees suffer the impact of miscommunication, the article suggested, as it went on to quote Debra Hamilton’s article “Top Ten Email Blunders that Cost Companies Money,” in which she stated miscommunication cost these smaller businesses an average of $420,000 per year.

Clearly miscommunication is expensive!

Yet facilitating consistent and open internal communication is one of the many things in life that might be simple, but not necessarily easy.

For example, Bruce Bolger, Co-Founder of the International Center for Enterprise Engagement, shared an interesting observation recently when he said, “Most organizations put far more effort into communicating with customers than with employees.”

We’ve found Mr. Bolger’s comments to be accurate. In many cases, customer communication is the higher priority, thus making it easy to put internal communications on the back burner. In other instances, the “silo” approach to operations tends to result in haphazard internal communication.

To gain the best results from internal communication efforts, leaders might do well to focus on employees as “internal customers.” Maybe then it will become easier to formalize and value internal communication protocols.