Communicating better in construction is not as easy and straightforward as it might seem. Better communication means something different to everyone. These days and in these situations, it is important to take time to understand the other stakeholders’ objectives.
About one-third of time spent on a jobsite is related in some way to miscommunication. Poor communication leads to misunderstandings about workflows, poor information, mistrust, low return on investment, exceeding the budget, and/or going past the scheduled deadlines. Estimates are that 90% of customer complaints involve poor communication. Although this has been a headache for contractors, the tide seems to be shifting.
While contractors are responsible for proper communication, each company and situation is different. After all, a construction worker’s strength is in their job, perhaps not so much in communicating.
Better communication involves a uniform flow of information, while giving power to the customer to reach out with their questions. There should be a single platform for communication, with easy adoption and learning curves. It’s no surprise that different companies use different platforms, and that can often lead to confusion. One company may use emails or texts, another LinkedIn or Facebook messaging. When there are too many ways to communicate, it’s almost a given that communications will not go smoothly. So everyone on the project needs to agree to choose and use one method to communicate.
Customers want to be kept up to date with what’s happening on their project. While they need to speak up and ask questions, sometimes they may feel they won’t get an answer, so they don’t even ask. They need to be comfortable and assured that they are asking the right person, and there are no “stupid” questions.
Improvements in the way a company communicates can enable a better life. Besides being a benefit to customers, better communication leads to more effective teamwork and improved collaboration by all the stakeholders on the project. Another result can be less wasted time with a higher return on investment.
When working toward a new mindset around communication, a company should:
- Ask for feedback.
- Hold regular project meetings.
- Clarify specialized language and jargon.
- Enable easy access to information.
- Identify a clear chain of obtaining information.
- Encourage open communication.
- Provide employees with training on communication.
Taking the first steps to solving the communication challenge will get the ball rolling to making things easier. It won’t happen all at once. With the right commitment, things will get better over time. When a company takes responsibility for solving its communication problems, employees and contractors work better. Customers can be confident they are contacting the right person.
When company leadership has the conversation about solving the company’s communication issues and takes appropriate action, they are on the road to giving power back to the owner and customer.
Tune in to episode 160 of Bridging the Gap Podcast Ron Nussbaum joined me to discuss focusing on communication as a critical part of the customer experience in order to end up with lifelong customers.