Maintaining strong lines of communication among its 6,000 strong workforce is of critical importance to this large utility provider in America.
It has a substantial responsibility for supplying electricity to millions of customers throughout north America.
Literally thousands of its employees are field-based, in roles ranging from emergency responders, substation mechanics, meter readers and technicians. Getting the right information to these - and office-based - staff at the right time is vital for the smooth running of this relied-upon organization.
Despite its considerable size, this utility works hard at being a highly nimble and efficient organization. It requires a well-oiled internal communications program to support this agility.
Remote workers must have up-to-date, accurate information at their fingertips. These could be operational-style messages (such as the daily job list); to emergency notifications (such as a severe weather warning; emerging traffic situation; or major outage.)
The consequences of a belated or a missed message could be dire.
Email (and previously fax) had been the standard communication channel. But there were concerns that staff could easily overlook an important message: inbox overload combined with lack of control of when an email actually gets seen led the company to seek an alternative.
The company’s spokesperson says the brief was to find a better way to communicate; to procure an employee messaging system that would:
After reviewing a range of employee communication platforms, the company selected SnapComms, purchasing 5,000 licences for Desktop Alerts and Scrolling Ticker bars (note: the platform was originally hosted locally but recently switched to cloud, for speed benefits).
Both tools bypass email systems, and offer unprecedented control of how and when messages get published.
The Desktop Alert displays as a pop-up message window directly onto employees’ screens, and can include text, images and hyperlinks.
An Alert notification can feature on both mobile and desktop screens and is virtually impossible to overlook. It’s an entirely separate channel to email, so it is not subject to ‘user rules’ (as with Outlook, which is often why emails get missed).
Meanwhile, Tickers (also known as newsfeeds) display as a slim window of moving text, scrolling across the bottom of a screen. This short-form style is ideal for broadcasting snippets of important information, and for linking to more in depth content within a headline.
SNAPCOMMS TOOLS IMPLEMENTED
The company uses Desktop Alerts primarily for emergency-style notifications. Its spokesperson says: “In our region, we get a lot of strange, unpredictable weather. We try and alert staff if there's an extreme weather forecast: a timely warning could make all the difference to an employee’s day.
“We also monitor local news and traffic in the area. If there’s major congestion, we advise employees to take an alternative route, hopefully saving them, our customers and the company valuable time.
“If there's an accident on the expressway, we can push information out and advise nearby staff to exit at the next off ramp. Consequently, we don’t suffer productivity loss and staff don’t have to sit frustrated in traffic for hours.
“Worse still, if there’s an active shooter in the area, we’ll send out an urgent alert cautioning staff to stay away.”
The company uses SnapComms Scrolling Tickers primarily for informational alerts. “These are great for advising staff on less urgent but still important issues, such as server downtime.
“For our customer service centre, these Tickers display key status updates, such as call volumes and call queues,” says the spokesperson. “They’re particularly effective in the busy call-centre environment, as staff can scan read a Ticker while talking with a customer.”
It’s been almost ten years since the company installed SnapComms – which the spokesperson describes as ‘a career highlight; something I’m particularly proud of’.
He says: “SnapComms is central to how we communicate these days. We use it 24/7. Staff genuinely value the information we send them, many of whom spend most of their day on their own, travelling between jobs.
“We make sure the content is relevant, and the frequency about right: we’re careful not to bombard staff,” he says.
Several sister organizations of the utility company are now piloting the service, with the aim to roll-out to thousands more staff in the near future.