Interstate Blood Bank is in the business of saving lives. This biotech company collects whole blood and blood components such as plasma and platelets from thousands of donors. It operates a network of 35 donor centers and laboratories throughout the U.S.
I.T. Director Lenny Goodman is proud of his small, efficient I.T. team of seven. They oversee the company’s technological needs for more than 1,400 employees and 800 + computers from the Memphis head office.
The continued success of the organization has enabled investment in smart technology. As this becomes further embedded into the organization, the responsibilities of the I.T. team have grown.
So too have employees’ expectations for quick resolution to I.T. issues and effective communication. Like every organization, any downtime could lead to a dip in productivity and operations.
Goodman is a realist. He knows that despite best endeavours, the risk of an unexpected I.T. event is ever present.
A cyber-attack, unexpected downtime or even a scheduled outage is never a fun time for anyone in I.T.
For lean teams like Goodman’s, the pressure to resolve issues quickly AND keep everyone informed is immense.
In the past, emails and phone calls were the main communication methods – but these had their drawbacks. Calls were time-consuming; speaking to the right person at each facility wasn’t always easy; and if email was the very thing that was broken, spreading the word in a timely way became almost impossible.
These problems were exacerbated if the event was unpredicted. Times like this require all-hands-on-deck, yet the inevitable flood of logged tickets and helpdesk calls could quickly divert valuable resource.
Goodman wanted to improve lines of communication with all staff throughout the country. He believed that pre-emptive, high cut-through communication could ease the pressure on his team AND provide a better service to all employees.
After seeking out various enterprise notification systems on-line, he selected SnapComms Alerts.
He says: “We road-tested other options before choosing SnapComms. We found it to be elegantly simple. The software has clearly been designed around how it’s used.”
Known for their high impact and cut-through, Alerts are pop-up notifications that sidestep email completely. They appear directly onto end-users’ screens for maximum impact.
Images, text and hyperlinks can be incorporated. Formats can be set to full-screen or smaller, depending on message severity. Options such as ‘Read Now’ or ‘Read Later’, can be added, and the Quick Publishing feature allows pre-configured content to be cascaded literally within seconds.
A big plus, Goodman explains, is targeting: “One of the must-have features for us was being able to seamlessly integrate with our LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol). SnapComms is intuitive: we can target by user groups, geographical groups, and more.”
The primary use of the SnapComms Alert channel at Interstate is for general I.T. communications and operational messages, to all staff, from Clerks to Phlebotomists.
Notifications can be about scheduled maintenance, upgrades, unplanned outages, spam warnings and anything else that’s sufficiently important and deserving of an unmissable message.
“We use the screen sizing feature to suit the message: if it’s an important reminder notice, we do that small. If it’s urgent, we use full screen,” adds Goodman.
His team have taken advantage of being able to preconfigure messages, so that zero time is wasted in an urgent situation.
“We’ve created an anticipatory catalog of messages, covering potential scenarios that can go wrong. For example: ‘Email is down’. ‘Phone system is down - restart your phones’. ‘Scheduled maintenance – no need to contact Helpdesk’.
Speed of message relay – and the flow-on productivity benefits – has really impressed Goodman.
“Within 60 seconds I can edit and publish a message to either machines or users – 800 visual places - it’s out the door and on the screen, with just a few clicks!” Putting people in the picture without delay cuts the inbound flood.
The reports dashboard however is possibly what Goodman likes best. He now has a complete view of who’s opened and read his team’s I.T. messages.
“Message delivery success is constantly around 90 – 95%, and open/readership rates is approximately 80% depending upon time of day,” he says. This is in stark contrast to email, where most companies experience an ‘all staff’ email achieving only 20% open rates, and reporting stats not easily unavailable.
With SnapComms Alerts, if open rates fall below 80%, Goodman republishes the message, targeting only those who have not yet opened the Alert, to guarantee better results.
Should a colleague claim they did not receive an Alert - which explicitly warned about a scam email, for example - the reporting function in SnapComms can confirm or deny.
Asked how staff have reacted to the new channel – he replies: “They love them! Seriously. They appreciate we’re now able to update and inform them right away.”
As such, it’s alleviated their perception that I.T. are hard to contact. “Proactive messaging lets them know we are working on the problem, and when it’s fixed.”
So effective has Interstate’s new approach to communication that Goodman is now looking to expand usage of SnapComms tools into different areas of the organization.