Management communication refers to the systematic planning, organizing, implementing, monitoring and revising the various channels of communication both internally and externally. Management communication also involves the dissemination of any information by an organization via networks and communication technologies (Grunig 2013). Management communication involves developing various communication strategies for communication within the organization or between different organizations and managing the flow of communication. Management communication also involves managing the flow of online information (Dozier, Grunig and Grunig 2013).
Organizational communication analyses the role of communication in an organization. Organizational communication deals with informing, persuading and promoting goodwill. The communication channel involves both formal and informal flow of communication. The communication channel in an organization involves horizontal, lateral, downward and upward movement (Kramer 2014).
Woolworths supermarket is an Australian supermarket that is owned by Woolworths Limited. Woolworths has duopoly in the Australian supermarket along with Coles. Woolworths specializes in grocery products and has 1000 stores in Australia (Woolworths Online 2017). Woolworths aims at satisfying the needs of the customers by continuously monitoring the customer satisfaction. Through the implementation of loyalty programs, the company has built long-term relationships with its customers and has retained its loyal customers. Woolworths has actively engaged with the media in order to manage the reputation of the company and raise awareness regarding the various sustainability issues. The company maintains an integrated network of suppliers through supplier conferences and forums. The company has engaged its customers through in store communications, advertisements, customer contact centres, social media and loyalty programs.
However, recent reports have shown certain issues faced by the company as the customers complained that they often found the shelves at the stores out-of-stock. Few customers complained that the prices of Woolworths were constantly rising and the prices of meat and vegetables were at their highest levels. The customers claimed that the services at Woolworths were not satisfactory and were rather poor. Few customers claimed that the most popular brands had been removed from the shelves in the stores (Stacks and Salwen 2014). The customers used the social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and also used customer helplines in order to share their views and grievances related to these issues. Woolworths was said to have removed a major part of their stocks in the past six months.
However, Woolworths initially ignored these complaints and grievances of the customers. Woolworths emphasized that their prices were relatively lower than the prices of its biggest competitor that is Coles. Woolworths did not pay much attention to the issues claimed by the customers. However, later the company admitted that something went wrong seriously with the company. This issue forced the company to incur various business losses. It was reported that the sales growth in the food and liquor segment increased to just 0.2% in the last quarter however, the group sales declined drastically to go in negatives (HA Bijmolt, KRE Huizingh and Krawczyk 2014).
The related authorities of the company blamed that the internal metrics of the company was the reason for the arise of such issues as they stated that the company had been measuring the availability of products, prices of the products and the store labor in a wrong manner. The company lost a majority of its customers due to this issue. The customers claimed that the prices of products at Woolworths were much higher than the prices they were supposed to be. Later on, it was found that the prices of around 4000 products at Woolworths were lower than its competitor Coles whereas the other thousands of products were priced higher than the Coles. It was also found that Woolworths had been incorrectly measuring its stock levels and had been checking the availability of products on the store shelves either in the morning or in the mid of the week (Feigin 2016).
Reports had shown that Woolworths had been ignoring the negative feedbacks of its customers instead of taking corrective measures and communicating with the customers. The company had been ignoring these negative feedbacks using the net promoter score that is a progenitor of customer loyalty and revenues. This shows that the company did not try to solve the issues by communicating with the customers. Lack of proper communication with the customers resulted in the loss of loyal customers. It is very essential for a company to maintain good communication with its customers in order to keep the customers satisfied and to prevent the shift of the customers towards the competitors.
Another issue arose when the company came up with its new online website that was slammed by the customers. Several complaints included the issues with the usability, functionality and product range. The customers claimed that the site either crashed or took too much time to process the orders. Some customers claimed that they could no longer find the products that used to be stocked earlier. The Facebook page of the company was bombarded with the complaints of the customers. Addressing this issue, Woolworths spokesperson stated that the company continuously reviews the feedbacks of the customers in order to ensure that the expectations of the customers related to the services and information provided by the online platform is satisfied (Allwood 2015).
However, Woolworths addressed all these issues and accepted its fault via mea culpa. This was the first step taken by the company on the long path of recovery. The customers appreciated the openness of the management as it accepted that it focused on the wrong metrics that led to the dissatisfaction among the customers (Malbon 2013). The major reason for the loss of goodwill was non-acceptance of the mistakes rather than the actual mistakes. Initially the company did not admit that it had committed mistakes and had completely ignored the negative feedbacks of the customers instead of taking remedial actions. Woolworths had been making excuses for the issues for years that has been clearly visible to the outsiders. Woolworths could have solved the issues at the point of its arrival by implementing proper communication strategies.
In order to address the issue, Woolworths started reviewing the metrics that it used to measure its performance that included the price, market shares and the net promoter scores. It had slashed costs by approximately $500 million and had invested the same into lower prices. It also laid stress on improving its services by increasing the labors in the stores. Woolworths also diverted $600 million in capex from its under underperforming businesses in order to boost capex in the supermarkets. The company laid more emphasis on the return on capital rather than the increments in the earnings per share. The company decided to improve the incentives to its employees in order to enhance the customer services. The company’s spokesperson mentioned that the company is on the path of its recovery but it would take some time to recover its losses and generate profits in the future. An effective communication could help in winning back the confidence of the customers even when the customers of Woolworths were dissatisfied by the products and services of a company (Coopman and Lull 2014).
Communication problems are the issues that develop in a social relationship due to misunderstandings and misinterpretations that causes tension in the personal or professional relationships. Therefore, public speaking becomes an important process of delivering a message to the concerned audience. In case of Woolworths, it was necessary for the management to come forward and give a clear response to the negative feedbacks of the customers instead of neglecting the issue. Since, Woolworths is a large organization and has its customer spread over a large area therefore, it was the responsibility of the management to address the audience as a whole by using public speaking. Public speaking helps a company to understand the customers and conveying the organizational goals to the customers in an efficient manner. Public speaking enables the companies to understand the audience and plan, organize and revise their operations according to the expectations of the customers (Toth 2013). The companies are not only required to adopt public speaking strategy to address the issues but they are also required to actively respond to the complaints and grievances of the customers over various social networking websites. The process of public speaking involves conveying clear and concise messages that the audience would be interested to listen to (Heath 2013). Public speaking involves effective communication skills supported by good and innovative ideas. Lastly, the public speaking must create an emotional connection with its audience in order to gain its confidence.
In order to solve the issue in a more effective manner, Woolworths must adopt the transactional model of communication in which both the sender of message and the receiver interact with each other (Holtzhausen 2013). This would help the company know whether the message was interpreted by the audience in the correct manner or not. This would also implement the dialogue theory of public speaking. The dialogue theory states that different people can interpret the same words in different manner. Therefore, active participation of the audience in the communication process ensures that the audience is able to understand the same message that company is trying to convey. The dialogue theory states that the speakers must take into account the active participation of the audience and must utilize the feedback from the audience in order to determine that the meaning that the company intends to convey is the one that is received by the audience. The public speaking must consider the physical, cultural, temporal and psychological dimensions of the audience (Austin and Pinkleton 2015).
Another major aspect of public speaking is ethical speaking. It becomes necessary for the speakers to begin with ethical intentions. It is important for the companies to convey the truth to the customers. Woolworths addressed the issues in an ethical manner by publically accepting its faults. It is not only necessary for the speakers to convey the message ethically, but it is also necessary for the listeners to understand the message ethically. The companies have their own ethical guidelines and code of conduct that they need to follow. The ethical pyramid is a structured approach to thinking about ethics. This pyramid includes the basic concepts of intent, means and ends. The intent determines the ethics of behavior while the means are the tools that are used to accomplish the goals and the ends are the final results that occur after the specific behavior (Goetsch and Davis 2014).
Therefore, it can be stated that it becomes very necessary to understand and analyze the audience in order to draft an effective message. It is very important for the companies to convey a clear message to its audience especially in case of handling grievances of the customers. Woolworths must ensure proper communication with its audience in order to ensure that the customers are satisfied with the active response of the company even when the customer is highly agitated with the products of the company. An effective communication can help in winning back the confidence of the customers even when the customer is dissatisfied by the products and services of a company. The companies must use persuasive speech in order to win the confidence of the customers. Persuasion can only occur when the company carefully listens to the grievances of the customers and urges the customers to engage in a specific behavior as the company believes that the change is in the best interest of the customers. The speakers must ensure that they are aware about the local language of the audience they are addressing. The company speeches must contain clear language, avoid obscenity and use powerful message along with the avoidance of obscure language. Therefore, it can be concluded that Woolworths must use effective communication strategies in order to interact with its customers and solve their grievances in order to retain its loyal customers and to stay ahead of its competitors. Woolworths and Coles sell almost the same products to the customers and the only major difference between them can be of the quality of services and their relationship with its customers. Therefore, Woolworths must focus upon maintaining good customer relationships by using effective communication strategies in order to remain competitive and ensure profits.
Allwood, A., 2015. Customer Experience Is the Brand: Getting in the Game. BookBaby.
Austin, E.W. and Pinkleton, B.E., 2015. Strategic Public Relations Management: Planning and Managing Effective Communication Campaigns (Vol. 10). Routledge.
Coopman, S.J. and Lull, J., 2014. Public speaking: The evolving art. Cengage Learning.
Dozier, D.M., Grunig, L.A. and Grunig, J.E., 2013. Manager's guide to excellence in public relations and communication management. Routledge.
Feigin, L.M., 2016. The effects of protests and boycotts on a brand and its reputation: a case study on Woolworths and boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) (Doctoral dissertation, The IIE).
Goetsch, D.L. and Davis, S.B., 2014. Quality management for organizational excellence. Upper Saddle River, NJ: pearson.
Grunig, J.E., 2013. Excellence in public relations and communication management. Routledge.
HA Bijmolt, T., KRE Huizingh, E. and Krawczyk, A., 2014. Effects of complaint behaviour and service recovery satisfaction on consumer intentions to repurchase on the internet. Internet Research, 24(5), pp.608-628.
Heath, R.L. ed., 2013. Encyclopedia of public relations. Sage Publications.
Holtzhausen, D.R., 2013. Public relations as activism: postmodern approaches to theory & practice. Routledge.
Kramer, M.W., 2014. Managing uncertainty in organizational communication. Routledge.
Malbon, J., 2013. Consumer strategies for avoiding negative online purchasing experiences: A qualitative study.
Stacks, D.W. and Salwen, M.B. eds., 2014. An integrated approach to communication theory and research. Routledge.
Toth, E.L., 2013. The case for pluralistic studies of public relations: Rhetorical, critical, and systems perspectives. Rhetorical and critical approaches to public relations, pp.3-15.
Woolworths Online. (2017). Woolworths Supermarket - Buy Groceries Online. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 May 2017].