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Why Integrated Communication is Essential for Better Customer Service

Integrated communication (IC), if applied correctly in the business, will help you to build long term relationships with your customers. You can somewhat control how customers feel about your business through unified communication and messaging. I still consider Don Schultz as one of the pioneers of the integrated communications concept. Although theorists are still trying to work out a united definition of what integrated communication entails, the majority of literature on the topic indicates that by controlling all communication the brand of the business is enhanced through a consistent brand image, which could eventually result in better sales. Having loyal customers can only benefit the business through repeated sales.

Sounds impossible?  Exactly how can integrated communication be achieved?
 
·    The top management must first of all understand integrated communication. Integrated communication can only be achieved when it is implemented throughout the business in the correct manner. There must also be a clear understanding of what the business wishes to achieve.
·    Create a consistent message about what the business is and stands for through a unified corporate image, personality and identity. All employees should be aware of the kind of messages that they should convey to customers.
·     Various communication channels should be combined using a consistent message. These messages in the different communication platforms should complement each other and reinforce one message.
·    The company should invest in IT infrastructure to attain integration of messages, for instance content management software or similar software.
·      The IT infrastructure should also enhance interactivity with all the business' stakeholders. The business should build a profile of its customers for tailor-made communication through data mining practices.
·    The whole company, from the receptionist to the top manager, must implement the principles of integrated communication. It must also be understood by all in the business and implement in all business processes.
·     The business should devise an integrated communication strategy with clear plans how to achieve communication integration.
·     The challenge with social media is that consumers now also shape the message and the business should therefore often interact with them. Interactivity is important in ensuring a consistent message about the business.
·     The mission and vision of the business should aspire to apply principles of integrated communication.
Integrated communication will be difficult to achieve since it also depends on the cooperation of all employees in the business. The top management of the business should also be fully committed. But if better relationships and sales are the end result, why not attempt to achieve this kind of synergy?
Also read this article Why business communication should be part of a strategic plan.
 
ReferencesHolm, O. 2006. Communication processes in critical systems: dialogues concerning communications. Marketing Intelligence & Planning: 24(5):493-504.
Schulz D.E. 1996. The inevitability of integrated communication. Journal of Business Research:37(2):139-146.
Schultz, D. 1998. Invest in integration. Industry Week 18 May: 20.

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