Slingshot is a US-based company that provides online and phone-based support for a range of home-based services, including pest control and heating solutions.
A core part of the Slingshot service offering is its 24/7 contact center. These agents handle hundreds of daily calls, texts, and emails from customers and end-users. It’s a demanding environment in which to work, so in order to help improve their agents’ quality of life, Slingshot uniquely allows over 50% of their contact center agents to work remotely.
Ben Roden is Chief Marketing Officer at Slingshot, and, amongst other things, responsible for internal communications within the company. That includes keeping every member of the contact center team informed of essential information relating to their job and engaged with initiatives being run across the company.
The pressured contact center environment, the shift-based 24/7 operations and the dispersed nature of the team made effectively reaching staff even more challenging.
As Slingshot has grown over recent years, the number of employees has also expanded, meaning that many of the embedded systems and processes were no longer suitable – including internal communication tools.
“Communication generally has been a weak point for us,” admits Ben. “I think that's true of a lot of organizations. It's hard to keep people on the same page. And when we really decided to focus on the at-home model for the contact center, we realized that we really need to address this now before these problems get out of our control.”
The nature of the remote working arrangement meant that Ben and his colleagues in the main office saw these contact center staff face-to-face infrequently. That put pressure on all communications to be read so that essential information wasn’t missed or staff became disengaged with the company, which could seriously impact on customer service.
“It's tough to engage people at any company,” Ben believes, “but it's even tougher when we'll see these people maybe once every three months when they come in for training. So having some sort of persistent presence on their computers is huge for us.”
Slingshot used several different channels to send internal communications, of which email was the main tool. But increasingly it was found that agents were so busy managing customer interactions that they didn’t have time to check emails. With a customer on the phone, logging into the email system to check their Inbox just wasn’t practical.
The need to send time-critical messages that staff actually read provided the impetus for Slingshot to look for alternative communication channels. For example, if a client office was closing temporarily and calls needed to be diverted, contact center staff needed to be notified instantly of the situation, in a way that wasn’t disruptive to their workflow.
The company also used Slack, which they’d found effective at facilitating collaboration between teams, but needed to combine this with complementary channels that would deliver priority messages and foster employee engagement.
Having evaluated different options available, Slingshot decided to introduce three of the SnapComms channels.
The need to communicate time-sensitive messages was solved by the scrolling desktop ticker. Short, snappy messages scrolled across the bottom of agents’ screens, delivering key information which could be read at a glance without distracting them from what they were doing.
General announcements and reinforcing company values would be handled through corporate screensavers, where the strong visual capability offered a powerful promotional tool.
Other news and updates would be communicated through the lock screen channel. Displayed every time an employee needed to unlock their computer, this tool provided the high levels of repetition required to truly get messages read and understood.
By introducing SnapComms channels into their communication mix, Slingshot have a comprehensive messaging platform for every need. Ben explains how the different channels are used together.
“We use slack for our day to day messaging tool, we use a lot of email announcements, and we also send some direct mail to help people feel like they're part of the team. With SnapComms, we’ve been able to provide that persistent presence which we've looked a long time for. It’s been huge for us as well.”
For large-scale announcements, Ben finds it valuable to use every channel at his disposal. “We just feel like it's much better to over communicate than under communicate.”
Typically, these announcements will be made via email and ticker for maximum exposure. The tickers can be scheduled such that if a staff member is away or off shift, the next time they log into their computer the ticker message is displayed and the information conveyed immediately.
Often these messages will include links to direct staff to online resources for more details, such as their internal health center, The Hub.
Compliance around internal policies and procedures has been an area of focus for Slingshot, especially as the business has grown. Internal communications needed to ensure that staff were aware of the changes and acting accordingly. Employees missing or ignoring these updates could be putting the business at risk.
“Whenever we make overhauls to policy or process or we launch a new feature, we use SnapComms as a way to drive traffic to our announcements page or a content page that explains the changes," explains Ben.
“We’ll do a multipronged approach where we'll announce it in Slack, we'll send out an email, and then in SnapComms we'll have the ticker run for the whole week just to make sure that everyone is aware of the change. To be able to hit all these channels is really powerful.”
Longer-term messaging intended to achieve positive behavioral change are achieved through screensavers and lock screens. These passive channels fulfill an essential role in bringing some of the company’s corporate culture to life for remote workers.
As well as reinforcing branding and company values, these channels are also used to promote announcements or news, where the strong visuals catch employee attention.
Ben describes an example where the channels were used to highlight an important community initiative the company was supporting.
“Last year we partnered with a local suicide prevention and crisis hotline. It’s a really worthwhile program that we wanted to get more people aware of – posting something about that partnership for people who wanted to volunteer.”
Slingshot have been extremely pleased with the value SnapComms has added to their internal communications. Ben affirms that “we love the ticker because it just pops up. It's not obtrusive, but it's novel enough that people read it and engage with it.”
When the company needed to advise staff of changes to their remuneration, they found communicating this through SnapComms really captured employee attention. “We saw a great engagement rate. It had a lot more page views than we've had in the past,” says Ben. “I think that was one of the first moments where we felt like, okay, this is definitely making a difference to have this added functionality.”
The ability to view previous messages in the Message History window has also been welcomed, making it easy for staff to quickly look for and find messages they needed to re-read.
Ben believes there has been a significant improvement in the effectiveness of their internal communications since SnapComms was introduced. “Before we really started taking the communications strategy seriously, things were a little bit fragmented. It felt like you were sending these messages off into the ether, not knowing who saw them or if they were effective.
“What SnapComms has allowed us to do is to expand the number of places where we can potentially engage our people. As long as they're logged into work, they're going to encounter the content no matter when they log in. And we'll have a better idea of the engagement numbers.”