The team at SnapComms are lucky enough to work with some of the best Internal Communications teams in the world. This is a case study from one of the teams we have worked with presented as an example of Internal Communication strategy in action.
The internal audience - 19,500 customer-facing employees in multiple locations — 10,000 in call-centers, 6,000 retail staff, and 3,500 field operation staff.
Internal Communication issues – The Internal Communications team identified four issues that compromised frontline staff readiness and their flexibility to sell or support services. These were:
Audience demographics – The Internal Communications team recognized that while internal communications content and delivery was aligned to the profile of the broader organization (between Baby-boomers and Generation X), call center staff were predominantly Gen-Y and were more receptive to different styles of communication.
The organization. A leading telecommunications company employing 30,000 staff.
Speed of delivery - Email was identified as a poor vehicle to deliver critical or time-sensitive messages.
Lack of time - Employees were not being given time to review, understand or act on internal communications content.
Lack of filtering - It was difficult for employees to wade through the volume of data and identify information central to their job function
Volume of messaging - Internal communications were being delivered via email and knowledge management articles. Employees were suffering from information overload and unable to access and digest critical data and updates.
“Employees have time and time again impressed upon us that they don’t have enough time to understand and act upon information that is delivered to them; it’s difficult to cut through the volume and identify information that is central to one’s job function”
- Internal Communications Manager
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Optimize the timing and targeting of communications - Streamline operational communication and deliver internal communications at the right time for the right audience.
Prioritize and filter messages to reduce information overload - Provide direction on and use of communications vehicles depending on message type and urgency.
Tailor internal communications to audience preferences - optimize content and delivery to the preferences of Gen-Y workforce.
Increase compliance and comprehension - Give employees sufficient time to know, understand, believe and act upon information.
Move employees from a state of “retain” to “refer” - Ensure employees can refer to and rely on the company’s knowledge management database (IQ) instead of trying to retain everything they have learned in training, read in an email message or heard in a team huddle.
Like most Internal Communicators, the Internal Communications team needed to get senior management approval for a pilot study. To do this they wanted to illustrate practically to executives how difficult and costly it was for customer-facing staff to absorb the quantity of information they were given and to answer customers’ questions about it.
"Could you assimilate this much information?" As part of the buy-in process, the pilot team created a 16-foot poster that contained all the messages that were sent to one call center group during a two-week period. It was calculated that these employees would have to read over 93,000 words a month — the equivalent of the entire contents of the Harper Lee book "To Kill a Mocking Bird"! — the team then asked the most senior executive how he would cope with reading and assimilating that during the course of his daily work. Needless to say the example hit home!
Calculating the cost of information overload to the business - The internal communications team also calculated the annual cost to the business of 3,500 employees processing this volume of information. The answer was more than $10M.
Calculating the impact on the business - The team aso identified the outcomes of employees not reading the information, as was frequently the case. They concluded that this led to:
Higher average call handling time (AHT)
Increased repeat calls
Higher operating costs
Lower customer satisfaction
Lower employee satisfaction and productivity
There were two tactics that the Internal Communications team wanted to roll out and test:
Pilot group and control group - Two groups were created; a control group that received standard email communications and a pilot group that received messages delivered through the SnapComms suite of employee communication channels. There were 289 employees in each group, comprised of a representative cross-section of employees based on age, tenure and productivity levels.
For the pilot group, a variety of SnapComms channels were used to push out content to the call center staff including:
Scrolling Ticker - scrolling headlines that appear on targted employee desktops. Headlines can be clicked for further information when required. Tickers were used for sending critical or urgent messages that employees needed to know then and there (“IQ Now”)
Employee Newsletter— a bulletin or magazine-style aggregation of content sent three times a week called “IQ Direct”. One of the differences between the SnapComms Newsletter and a more traditional email / online newsletter is hat the headlines of the magazine itself can be delivered directly to the target employee desktops (bypassing emial inboxes altogether).
Employee Quiz— a desktop pop-up quiz tool to test knowledge of content distributed via “IQ Direct”
Internal Survey — a pop up desktop survey tool to elicit feedback from employees about the effectiveness of the messages sent
Desktop Alerting Software — pop up desktop alerts to staff of urgent situations such as cable outages within the technical support division
The pilot group went through two phases in the trial — the first was when they were allocated 15 minutes daily away from the phone to read the contents of their messages and the second was when no such time was factored in. The control group had no dedicated reading time assigned to them.
The team built an Internal communications Measurement Plan to analyze the success of the pilot and the internal communications delivered within it.
There were four aspects to the measurement plan:
Understanding of message content
The built-in reporting functionality within the SnapComms integrated communication channels was used “exhaustively” throughout the pilot.
1. Message readership
The pilot group’s readership of messages was measured in two ways:- Metrics provided in the SnapComms reporting tool for IQ Now (scrolling ticker)
- For the control group the only way readership of the email messages could be measured was to track email open rates; the drawback of this was that it could not be established whether employees has actually read the messages or merely opened the emails.
Results for IQ Now - the readership rate for SnapComms was taken within four hours of the desktop ticker message being delivered. The difference between the pilot and control groups was dramatic — the lowest readership rate of IQ Now was measured at 93%, compared to 22% for email. The analytics also showed that the SnapComms messages were also read closer to the start of employees’ shifts.
“The information I get in the IQ Now is timely and relevant for my skill set and I like having the urgent messages scroll at the bottom of my screen”
The results for IQ Direct (employee bulletin) demonstrated that the allocation of 15 minutes additional reading time was a significant driver of message readership. Where that time away from the phones was provided, readership was at levels in the range of 80-92% for SnapComms and 61-75% for email, using the same templates. When the time away from the phones was not given, readership for SnapComms dropped to a range of 30-55%, while for email it was 46-51%.
“SnapComms really gives me lots of useful and updated information which helps in my daily job. Excellent tool”
2. Understanding of message content
A SnapComms quiz containing two or more questions was sent out as a follow up to IQ Direct to test for understanding of each bulletin’s content. (The control group was asked the same questions by email, but there were too few responses from those employees to yield any significant data).
Not only did employees score full marks in 74-95% of cases, but the Internal Communications team were also pleasantly surprised to find that staff enjoyed taking the quizzes. They had assumed that employees wouldn’t like completing them as it would remind them of being in school. What actually transpired was that staff felt better equipped to do their jobs.
“SnapComms is brief, exactly to the point and simple to understand...the quiz is also helpful as it shows how much we understood after answering the questions.”
3. Behavior change
Throughout the pilot, the Internal Communications team consistently assessed the extent to which employee behavior had been influenced by the content of the messages delivered to them. The pilot team looked at four different procedures relating to those messages and conducted pre- and post-pilot surveys. While there were significant increases in the level of readership, understanding of messages, satisfaction with amount of content and ease of use of the knowledge management system, they discovered that there was a much smaller improvement in how employees rated the messages in terms of helping them to do their job and that more work needed to be done to align the content of the message to the nature of customers’ calls.
4. Impact on business KPIs
Standard metrics that were collated for AHT, such as problem resolution, customer satisfaction and commissions were broken down so that results for the pilot and control groups could be separately identified. Improvements in resolution rates were made following the pilot. In terms of commissionable sales, the Gen-Y pilot group performed better than the control group and their Gen-X and Baby Boomer counterparts, and suffered more when the offline time was withdrawn.
Employees were very positive about the SnapComms employee communications tools and the pilot process in general. The pilot team set up an escalation process for employees to leave feedback.“We did not receive one single negative comment about SnapComms, the offline time or anything to do with this pilot or process.”
A survey was also conducted with staff in the pilot group to assess their satisfaction with each of the SnapComms tools. The results were very encouraging and endorsed the positive feedback that the Internal Communications team had received during the course of the pilot.
Overall Satisfaction with the SnapComms tools:
IQ Direct (Magazine) 95%
IQ Quiz 90%
IQ Now (Scrolling ticker) 86%
Outage Notification (Desktop Alert) 86%
Message History Window 83%
“This is a great idea as I have access to the information I need to work better. I have improved my resolution rates because I get information faster and I am able to deliver it to the customer sooner. The SnapComms pilot made it easier for me to find information.”
- Pilot group employee
Key benefits of the SnapComms Channels:
Messages delivered fast and read promptly by employees
Easier for employees to access critical or time-sensitive information
Comprehensive, robust reporting and measurement
Reduced volume of content sent due to content filtering and aggregation
Visual, fun and eye-catching ways to send information
Reinforced employee learning
Areas for further focus:
Further work needed to be done to align the content of messages to the nature of customer calls.