Deal With Customers in Writing or Electronically - Part 2
Communication through writing and electronically often requires the use of equipment. In order to communicate successfully, the candidate should know to operate the equipment involved efficiently. When there is a predicted delay in responding to communications, the customer needs to be kept updated on the situation and progress.
Electronic and written communications can be risky if the documents do not get into the hands of the right person. Care needs to be taken to ensure safe delivery of the above means of communication.
This is a level 3 unit with a credit value of 6. This unit has been divided into two parts for ease of understanding and to not cram in too much information into one hub.
To read the first part of this unit, please follow the link below:
4.6 Explain how to operate equipment used for producing and sending written or electronic communications.
Written and electronic communications can be done in different ways and different equipment is used for different types of communications. In order to send and receive these communications effectively, one needs to know to operate these equipments.
For written communications, one needs to have writing skills and also use the right pen, paper and pencils appropriate for that communication. If the communication is going to be printed off and sent, one needs to know how to use the printer. In electronic communication, we use either a computer or a fax machine. So the person who communicates needs to know how to operate the computer or laptop and the fax machine. Faxed materials might be either handwritten or printed, and may require one to know how to operate a fax machine, computer and printer.
To produce documents, we need
- Computer with keyboard, mouse and monitor or a laptop or pen and paper
- A printer
To send documents we need
- A fax machine
- A computer with keyboard, mouse and monitor or laptop
- Envelopes and stamps
Operating a computer:
- One needs a computer or CPU with a keyboard, monitor and mouse and attached printer.
- The computer needs to have the operating system, which is Windows XP in our organisation.
- Before switching on the computer, one needs to make sure the power cords are fixed perfectly at the back panel of CPU, the video cables in the monitor and the cords to the power socket, and also that the mouse and keyboard are connected in their appropriate ports.
- After this check, the power button is switched on in the CPU.
- The machine will ask for username and password to login to the system. This will differ for each organisation depending on how the computers are set u.
- There may be additional logons for company specific systems or software to use the resources and software, access hard drives, etc.
- One should know to use the word processing software, Microsoft applications and other applications that the organisation uses to produce documents.
After preparing the document, one should know how to attach it to email and send them using the email services provided by the organisation, for example Microsoft Outlook or print if it needs to be sent by mail, depending on the method that will be used to send the communication.
Sometimes document may need to be sent encrypted on flash drives, CDs or DVDs. In those situations, one needs to know how to copy files on to the flash drive and encrypt them, and if burning them on CDs or DVDs, one needs to know how to use the burning or writing software.
Operating a fax machine:
Fax machines are mostly used when there is no facility to send documents via email, or when organisations feel that email communication is not secure for that particular type of document or documents might take days to arrive by post. In order to send documents via fax, one needs to know how to operate a fax machine. In order to operate a fax machine, you need a fax number, a recipient fax number, cartridge or ribbon or toner depending on the model of the fax machine, the required documents that need sending along with a cover sheet and blank white papers if receiving fax.
You need to set up and configure the fax machine before it can be used. Initially the power and phone line need to be plugged in and the power switched on. The phone line needs to go into the right socket, following the instruction manual. Make sure there is a dial tone. Most organisations have a dedicated phone number for the fax line and hence the fax machine can be set to auto answer. Make sure that the toner/cartridge/ribbon are loaded and that there is always required amount of papers in the paper tray for receiving fax.
For the purpose of records, it is good to set up a confirmation page for fax, which will tell you if sending was successful or if there were any errors. It helps when sending confidential and important or legal documents. But if you just use fax for simple matters, you can turn this feature off to save paper.
Another useful setting is the header option which will include a line on top of the document to say where the fax is from, plus the date, time and fax number. This will be very useful to identify the sender’s details and also to communicate with the sender via fax if necessary.
While sending a fax, make sure the power is turned on, and always send a cover paper for fax mentioning the details of the documents sent, who is sending it and for what purpose it is being sent. This will make things very clear and easy. Place the documents in the correct tray in the correct position and dial the number you want to send the fax to. Press the send button and wait for all the papers to be scanned and the fax to be transmitted. When the process is complete, the fax machine will print a confirmation report, depending on the settings.
If the machine is properly set up, the paper tray is loaded and the cartridge or toner is ready, receiving a fax is a very easy process. If the fax machine is set up to receive faxes automatically, when the fax line rings, the machine will automatically receive the fax and print it off. Setting fax to automatically answer is very useful, so that you do not miss out on important documents that come in during any time of the day.
Operating a printer:
In order for you to send a typed document via mail services or fax, you need to print them first. To print the documents, you need a printer attached to your computer or the network that your computer is connected to. Very similar to the fax machine, you need to make sure that the printer is plugged in and the power is turned on. Depending on the type of printer, whether inkjet or laser jet, the printers will have ink cartridge or toner cartridge. Make sure that the cartridge compartment is loaded with ink or toner. Depending on the type of printer, you may have different trays for different types of paper and different sizes of paper. Make sure the paper trays are loaded. Make some initial settings on the printer for print quality, duplex printing etc.
In order to print a document, use the file menu on the document that you have created and choose the print option. The box that appears will have options or properties button to set the print settings. Colour prints can be done where necessary on a colour printer. Double sided printing can be done to save paper.
While all these equipments are used everyday in an office environment, make sure you turn off the computers and the printers everyday in order to save energy. It also helps with long life for the equipments.
4.7 Explain the importance of keeping your customer informed if there is likely to be any delay in responding to a communication.
Customer care is a very important element in every organisation. Contacts and relationships with customers are very important and have to be maintained continuously for the organisation to run smoothly. Keeping customers informed is a very important task and part of customer services. It will help avoid so many problems, misunderstandings and frustrations and will help strengthen the relationship with customers most of the time. Customers will be happy to hear about a problem from the company or organisation, rather than finding it out by themselves. So a proactive approach is much better than a reactive approach.
For example (from my job's point of view), if you know that a problem has occurred and there is a waiting list on the referrals received, you can ring the customers to inform them about the delay and the reason why the delay has happened and also give them a timeframe within which the issue will be sorted. You can also send out a letter stating the reasons for delay and when it will be actioned. If this is not done, customers will ring again, and when they get a negative response, will become frustrated or look for other organisations or companies.
Sharing information with customers about delays in services or any delays in responding to communications or services will tell the customers that the company cared for them. It will also stop customers from ringing customer care and getting worried or frustrated. This will help strengthen the customer relationship. Always put yourself in the position of the customer, and think what you would have expected. The same and beyond will have to be provided for customers.
When you receive a request from a customer, the customer is waiting in anticipation to see whether or not their request will be fulfilled. They might even wonder whether their request reached you. So as an initial step, it is good to acknowledge receipt and inform the customer that you have received the request and will be dealing with it or working on it. If this is a request that will take some time to be resolved, keep the customer informed of progress. That will help the customer stay at peace, knowing that the work is in progress and that they are looked after.
When the issue is resolved, make sure that you ring the customer and inform, rather than wait for the customer to ring you for information. This will help the customer stay at peace and become productive, otherwise, according to the customer, the problems still exist unresolved.
Keeping customer informed improves customer satisfaction. Whether it is good or bad news, they need to be informed, so that they know that they are remembered and not ignored.
4.8 Explain the risks associated with the confidentiality of written or electronic communications.
All forms of communications are not totally secure. There are loopholes and disadvantages in all forms of communication.
Risks associated with the confidentiality of written communication:
Any form of written communication will be saved as a hard copy or sent via mail services. The communication can have confidential information that unauthorised people are not allowed to read or look into.
Risks associated with the confidentiality of electronic communication:
Electronic forms of communications include telephones, mobile telephones, fax machines and email.
- Telephones: Communications that take place over a landline telephone are not totally secure as there are cases where phone lines have been tapped. As part of the process and procedures, telephone companies can monitor telephone calls, making it again a serious issue with regards to confidentiality. Also there are lines that can have multiple extensions, where one person’s conversation can be overheard by other people, hence breaching confidentiality.
- Mobile phones: Mobile phone communication uses radio waves, which can be intercepted easily. Any messages received by mobile phones, if the phone is not locked with a password, can be seen by anyone if they go into the hands of the wrong people. Also smartphones have easier options for setting up emails and other functionalities. If not secured with a password, these smartphone functions can cause serious issues with confidentiality if ithey send information into the hands of people who are not authorised to access that information.
- Fax machines: Although fax machines are a secure way of sending and receiving information, one needs to be very careful while sending information by fax. If you enter a wrong number while sending fax, even if one digit is wrong, confidential data can go into the hands of the wrong people, even to an opposing party in a legal matter. So one needs to double-check the number to which they are sending a fax before hitting the send or transmit button. There also can be unauthorised access to fax machines at the receiver’s end. So it is always good to check with the receiver if it is the right time to send the fax and if the receiver has received the documents in hand. Even in your own office, fax machines have to be kept where they are accessed only by authorised personnel as otherwise confidential documents received can be gotten hold of by the wrong people.
- Emails: As with fax transmission, one needs to be very careful while communicating via emails. One needs to make sure to enter the email address correctly and double-check that it is correct, otherwise emails can go into the wrong recipient’s inbox. There are other threats involved in communication via emails. Emails and their attachments can be read and seen by system administrators and hackers. So while sending confidential and sensitive information, you should avoid using public networks and use encrypted methods.
In general, it is always good to notify customers or any recipients of communications that there are the risks involved in written and electronic communication and that personal meetings are the best method.
Our organisation has employed measures to maintain data security in the use of computer technology.
To read the first part of this unit, please follow the link below:
I hope that you found the information in this hub useful. This is purely for reference purpose only. If you have any questions or wish to share your experience, please do so in the comment section below.
All the best!