Our Guest Blog this week comes from David Naylor.
David is the Managing Director of Chief Customer Officers, a specialist consultancy that helps companies who want to deliver great customer experiences but are struggling to understand their customers and frustrated by their inward focused culture. David has over 16 years experience as an operational leader and consultant, helping global and local businesses to learn from the best companies to design customer experiences and embed new behaviours, skills and capabilities. David is an expert in the enterprise social networks, change programme delivery, customer insight and analytics, multi-channel customer interactions and Lean based improvement processes.
Anti-social behaviours in the workplace are holding companies back
The next time you hover over the CC line on an email think about this blog. We all do this every day – who do I need to copy on this? My boss because that way I’m more likely to get an answer from the person I’m sending it to? The project manager who has been nagging me to finish my actions ahead of the meeting? The three people I know well Marketing just in case they can answer the question I’ve fired off to that new guy I’ve just met but don’t trust yet?
The biggest problem with email is not so much that it naturally limits who we communicate with but it allows everyone to forfeit responsibility the moment that ‘send’ button is pressed. “I’ve done my part and if I don’t get a response I can blame John in the meeting”. A little extreme but I think it is a scenario we will all recognise. The fact that John is on vacation isn’t your problem. You ask Mary who works with John but she can’t help so that’s it – you give up.
When we put this into the context of fast moving service operations where customers are promised a response within 48 hours it is easy to see why customers get frustrated. Staff are disengaged and so how on earth can we expect our customers to be any different? We have built operational models that provide massive opportunity for inefficiency and delays due to the way we work – weekly meeting cycles, email tag, management approval processes, etc. We need a way to break out of these for the sake of our employees and our customers.
Leading companies are doing just that by supercharging the level of social networking inside the enterprise. Project based collaboration across businesses is not new – Sharepoint and other tools have been around for a while now. However, so-called Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) tools are bringing the power of facebook into ‘business as usual’ operations to connect all employees and eliminate the anti-social behaviours created by traditional communications. So where is the Return on Investment? Well, McKinsey research has shown that there is a direct correlation between company bottom line performance and the level of ESN activity. Gartner are also predicting that 20% of people will be using ESN tools as their primary form of business communication by 2014.
ESN tools allow internal communities to organically grow, as well as more formal teams to be established where project related discussions and materials are shared. While visibility can be controlled, the aim of the community environment is to unlock ‘value’ by encouraging participation – if someone has something they learnt from a previous project and can see it could be valuable for another team they can share it quickly and freely. If you need an answer to a complex customer problem you can broadcast your request to find the right person who can provide it. If you have an idea to improve a product or process you can quickly get it evaluated by the community. Inbuilt workflow tools help to provide the right balance between open discussion and business process – a key difference over the Facebook world.
So what are the key characteristics of a highly networked organisation?
- Increased Agility – decision making and process cycle times are faster because silo boundaries are removed and management hierarchies are flattened
- Strong Innovation – there is a ‘fail fast’ culture where ideas are easily tapped and people test, learn and share, so the organisation quickly evolves
- Talent rich – skills and capabilities, previously locked away are highly visible to anyone who needs them to support projects and resolve issues
- Engaged workforce – people feel that they are able to contribute and add value beyond their define roles
If you want to know more, have a look at the Yammer, Lithium or Jive products. Also Salesforce.com offer a sophisticated solution called Chatter that extends the functionality for existing users.
The bottom line is that if we don’t have the right social behaviours in the workplace we will not be able to effectively engage with our customers. Beware that these tools are just enablers and the benefits will come from developing new behaviours that exploit them. This takes time, energy and a long term plan! You can read some case study material and get a social engagement model that could work for your business from this whitepaper. You can read more on this topic on David’s recent blogs.
Are you already discovering the benefits, or facing challenges with user engagement around Enterprise Social Networking? Please do let us know your thoughts and comments.