It is my pleasure to introduce you to our September Customer of the Month Lewis Jacoby, Communication Specialist at Suncorp. Lewis has been driving usage of Yammer in his organization, overcoming hesitations and making Yammer a pervasive and useful platform for his department. Here is Lewis’s story in his own words:
How did you get involved with Yammer at Suncorp?
Lewis Jacoby: As a huge fan of all things social, I was excited when I came across Yammer and decided to get involved. Suncorp has had Yammer since 2009, and while it was available to staff, there was little guidance or assistance available. Our BT (IT) community picked it up and ran with it, but it really stopped there. I championed it because I wanted it to become a mainstream channel across our department, not just in BT.
Why is internal community management important?
Lewis Jacoby: Companies spend a lot of time thinking of ways to best interact with external stakeholders (customers usually), but equally as important is looking after the internal community. Especially in large organizations, a healthy internal community is a prerequisite for successfully dealing with external stakeholders. I love how self-governing Yammer is, but that will only get you so far. I think our biggest need for community management stems from the need to help business groups build their own context and best practices. Because early adopters in BT heavily dominated our network, there was a danger in others tuning out because of lack of relevance.
How did you “sell” Yammer into the organization?
Lewis Jacoby: I think this relates back to the need for real context to be provided. A good approach, rather that us telling everyone about how great collaboration is, is to make it relevant to a specific use case. Rather than promoting Yammer as a great platform, which will be beneficial because it ‘helps collaboration’, frame it as the solution to a problem, or a tool that can emphasize something which is already happening. It’s not a ‘new toy’; it’s a replacement/ extension of what already happens.
Using Yammer as an alternative for email was a big part of our pitch when launching the trial. It was actually a self-fulfilling prophecy, some people preferred to use Yammer. You didn’t have to worry about which distribution list you were sending to, multi-contributor messages were easier to follow, it encouraged generally shorter messages, and the ease of interaction from any location meant people were actually happy to use it as an alternative.
The email kicker is a really good place to start, as everyone will tell you they have too many emails and not enough time. We did some research early last year and tried to capture a view of all the operational communications our staff received and what channels were used. Emails were certainly the predominant channel and we found that nearly 50% of emails did not require an action. Our aim was to try and differentiate what channels would trigger what action. We started using Yammer for non-urgent communications, and typically for updates which affected more than one or two people. We have also tried Yammer-free and email-free weeks, and analyzed the pros and cons at the end of each week, as well as considering the types of communications that best suited each platform.
How did you educate employees about Yammer?
Lewis Jacoby: Educating internally about what Yammer does, and how it can benefit us is ongoing. People won’t use Yammer until they see the benefits, and they won’t see the benefits until they use Yammer. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem. We found the most successful approach to be a great deal of handholding, persistence, and providing real, tangible and relevant use cases and benefits. A PowerPoint pack with a summary of benefits and capabilities got us nowhere. My favorite example of a benefit is “the serendipitous solution,” when people who throw a question or idea out into our Yammersphere, and get involvement from people they never would have met or heard of. My colleague Ben Gant hosted sessions with leaders, showed them how to use Yammer and discussed what type of content could be posted on yammer. He then encouraged leaders to champion Yammer within their team.
Does your Executive Team use Yammer? How did you get them to engage?
Lewis Jacoby: The CEO of our BT area is an excellent and active Yammer user; he sees great benefit in the platform and was the one to introduce it at Suncorp. Apart from that, one of our Exec onboarding methods was to create a group for them to set an agenda for an upcoming conference. This was a good exercise and demonstrated the benefit of a multi-person, multi-location conversation, which is stored in in one place.
How are you working with people outside of your department?
Lewis Jacoby: Now that our team is working with people outside our department, there are often efforts to get them on Yammer for discussions. Effective group usage was our biggest breakthrough, and I believe an excellent direction for new users. We essentially replicated the org chart for our department and created groups for every team and division. We gave these teams some context around what might be suitable for their use cases, onboarded every member, and it went from there. This took time, but the results have been positive. Once in this ‘comfortable zone’ people started to experiment and really get value. By “paying it forward” and training internal Yammer champions, we can encourage them to train others, who in turn train others. Becoming more collaborative also helps us become a better company for our customers. As anyone in a customer facing business will know, customers HATE getting told different things by different people – Yammer is another way we can ensure we deliver a consistent customer experience.
To get to know more about Lewis, check out his Customer of the Month profile here: