Communications Academy

5 Questions Every Decision Maker Must Ask Before Going All-In with a Branded Employee App

April 17, 2019 Season 1 Episode 3
Communications Academy
5 Questions Every Decision Maker Must Ask Before Going All-In with a Branded Employee App
Chapters
Communications Academy
5 Questions Every Decision Maker Must Ask Before Going All-In with a Branded Employee App
Apr 17, 2019 Season 1 Episode 3
Staffbase
5 Questions to ask before Going All-In with a Branded Employee App
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode we talk about the 5 Questions Every Decision Maker Must Ask Before Going All-In with a Branded Employee App. 

The five questions we discuss are as follows:
1. Am I in a Competitive market for talent?
2. What's my current readership like?
3. Are any of my current methods backfiring?
4. Are my communication needs unique? 
5. How do I measure success?

We talk about all of this in great detail and welcome your thoughts, feedback, and interaction. Enjoy! 

Speaker 1:
0:03
Okay.
Speaker 2:
0:04
Today we talk about the five questions every decision maker must ask before going all in with a brand new employee APP. The five questions we go through, our m I n a competitive market for talent. What's my current leadership like? Are My current methods backfiring? Are My communication needs unique? And lastly, how do I measure success? We talk about all this in great detail and look forward to hearing your response. Welcome back. I'm so thrilled to have Peter here again. What we're going to do today is we're going to touch on five questions that business owners, decision makers, CEOs have to ask before they are ready to go all in with a branded employee app. And Peter is here to talk about his experiences and what you seen out on the field when he's working with large enterprises that get to this stage. They get to the stage of wanting to know, I need to know these specific things before I can go all in. And so we're going to talk about these five things and see where the conversation takes us. Peter, thank you so much for your time today. And, uh, I'm looking forward to learning from you.
Speaker 1:
1:17
Sure. Yeah. So shall I just jump right in? Let's jump in. What is the first question that you hear the most? Okay. I think maybe the place to start is with, um, this question m I n a competitive market for talent and there's a few ways that, that this manifests. Sometimes companies that we talk to, they're in a competitive market where, um, it, they're not worried about turnover per se, but they want to be attracting the best and brightest in their field. Um, or it could be, it could be a turnover, um, question and it could be something where we want to be able to retain as many employees as we can. Um, we work with a lot of companies that are, that are with diverse workforces that are non desk workforce is also, I'm also a lot of like hourly employees as well. We're traditionally, you would have high turnover and if you can grab a few points on retention in those high turnover type industries, um, that's also very valuable.
Speaker 1:
2:24
So you know that that's a good starting point because there's so much of the business case for what happens with the employee app revolves around how it can help you be more competitive with talent, retaining talent, attracting new talent, um, and just across the board being a great place for people to work. Excellent. I think that's spot on. So what would be the next question, next question. Um, does the readership status, how is my readership status quo on important? So what I mean here is, um, as an organization you have some things that you need to communicate with everyone about and that could be your company's strategy. That could be, um, you recently have been going through a lot of change. Like you, you've recently had an acquisition or divestiture or something important happened at the company, change in leadership, change in strategy, and you want to get everyone in the same page about that.
Speaker 1:
3:30
And so the question that you, that you need to ask before going all in is, what's my, what's my readership like on such important messages? So if I have something, uh, let's say, uh, an employee, an employee survey for example, what's the participation like on that? Um, and if you see that the participation is not as high as you'd like it to be, if you see that the readership is not as high as you'd like it to be. A lot of organizations we work with, um, they're seeing 30% open rates are 30% readership on important messages over email, for example. Um, and they're not that, that's not a number that they can really be excited about. Um, comparing to the important things that they have to communicate out. Another important case is like in a crisis or an emergency situation, um, what percentage of your workforce are you able to reach in that type of situation? And you know, what kind of risks do you have that are associated with that? Um, if you're, if you're a business that's located in Florida, for example, um, hurricane season might have real impacts to your business and being able to communicate about that, um, may be really important. And so if you are in a situation like that and if your current sort of readership status quo isn't that great, um, then that could be a great reason to be all in on adding an employee APP.
Speaker 2:
4:57
Interesting. And just to dive in a little bit on that, it sounds like from our previous discussions about push notifications, about being able to, um, confirm through actionable choices or whether or not you've, uh, you've read something, um, yeah, there's, there's, there's opportunities for you to get some real solid metrics around that, which sounds really good. And I guess if they were doing mass mailings before maybe printed newsletters even, um, I would, I would assume that when you reach that discussion and that question is asked, it seems like an opportunity to actually flip that question around and say, well, how is readership today and how are you measuring it and are you satisfied?
Speaker 1:
5:44
Yeah. Yeah. I think that's, that's absolutely right. And, and the reason this is so important, like this point about how is the readership is if you think about the employee APP project, um, it's going to be most valuable. Where it, it, it makes the biggest change from what you're doing today. So if what you're doing today really is super effective and when you want to need to reach people in an emergency, like, you know, you can reach 90% of your people within an hour, then the employee app project, you know, being frank about it, it's not going to create as much value as it isn't an environment where your um, current status quo reaches somewhat lower. Um, and the thing that we see and it's like the change in the world that really made our company, uh, possible and makes the employee APP project possible is this smart phone that's and everyone wants pockets and it's this personal channel that you can then leverage to increase your reach.
Speaker 1:
6:47
So what we see is, you know, companies that have, um, not a lot of non desk workers, companies that have a lot of millennials, um, companies that are in these large distributed workforces. A lot of people traveling, a lot of people in the field, these are real hotspots where the status quo might not be that great for reaching people. And that's where you, you made then therefore see tremendous value out of a project like this one. Excellent. All right, so two down. What's the next one? Okay, two down. Um, third question. Are My current methods backfiring in any way? So this is a, another way of coming at this kind of what's your readership status quo or when you go to communicate things, um, you know, how many are you able to reach? This is the other side of that coin, you know, on the other hand with the current methods that I'm using, do I actually have any downsides with those methods that I might be able to, any pain on creating that I might be able to alleviate with a project like the employee APP project?
Speaker 1:
7:54
So what, what do I mean when I say backfiring? Yeah. Um, there's one, one simple way of looking at a disk. For example. Um, print media is notoriously expensive and so in a sense your print media as is backfiring in a couple ways. One is costing you a lot of money out of the gate and to, um, you have no idea of measuring, you know, how many people are actually reading your print media. Uh, you can take a guest, but you don't actually know. Um, and so, you know, you could, you could say that print media is backfiring in that way, but I'd say the chief, the chief offender, um, that we see from companies have a chance of an existing channel that's backfiring is email. And when we go to conferences, just last week, I was talking to a group of like 30 internal communicators and I asked this question of, you know, how many people for how many people in the room is email your primary digital communications channel?
Speaker 1:
8:50
And every single hand in the room went up. Okay. So, so email is a big thing. Um, and, and I'm not here saying that email is just as bad. It's, it's an important part of the mix. But when I say backfiring as what we're learning is for a lot of companies when they communicate over email, because email is like this primary channel where there's no prioritization of any kind. So everything comes into, you know, think of the old physical mailbox and the mailman just stuffing those letters into the box. Like you as, as the reader, you don't, you have no idea what's priority one, what's priority to what's priority three inside the mailbox you just know there's stuff in there. Um, and when you open it, you pull out the big stack and now you have to read through everything to understand what's important and what's not and you have to do the sorting on your own as a reader.
Speaker 1:
9:40
And this is like the primary way that we hear about email backfiring is a loss of productivity that people are getting interrupted because they're bombarded with so many emails that got emails from their team that are important, that urgent about projects at the dealing with. But then emails of all kinds coming from different groups. And there's no way to differentiate between let's say an email from your business resource group that might not be as urgent. Like there's a, a veterans group, um, you know, picnic, uh, next month. Um, that email is coming into your inbox and taking space in the same exact way that, that important announcement from the CEO is right. And, and as a result, people are just overwhelmed and they're, they're reading nothing or they're reading them as they come in and like interrupting the work that they should be doing. It should, should have like a clear focus on, um, in the process. So there's this question about, are your current methods backfiring is really meant to get at this? Are you doing the best you can to have your communications reach people, but also stay out of their way when they're doing important work? Um, and only really, you know, go and grab their attention when it really matters. Um, so that they can be as productive as possible
Speaker 2:
10:58
enjoying the podcast. I hope so. If you'd like to learn more about staff days, go to [inaudible] dot com you can click on schedule a demo. And now back to the show with this goes right into our conversation that we had last time about just the governance of, you know, push notifications and things of that nature. Because taking a a, rewinding a little bit and talking about that, is it backfiring? Is it overwhelming? There are so many channels of communication right now. You know, we're talking about a branded employee application that is living on your personal device, that has email, that has text messaging that probably has something like slack, it'd be whatsapp. Then there's also the feeds you're getting from also other social media is such as messenger and Twitter and other parts of Instagram, Instagram, and all of these have these different ways of communicating. Whereas if your organization is, is communicating on all these different mediums versus one that is very carefully, carefully monitored and administered and chosen wisely, that's where those barbecue recommendations versus the stakeholder or housemates don't become, uh, I guess you would say stagnant within the same or a grouping.
Speaker 1:
12:10
Yeah. Yeah. And then what we, what we see is that customers who have been with us for a long time who are thoughtful about how they govern those push notifications, they sort of trained people in the organization that I know for example, if I work at Tradewinds, that's one of our customers in, in Florida. Yeah. And I get a push notification from the APP. I know that that's going to be about, um, some kind of a weather issue or an office closer, close your issue or it's going to be about a contest where I could win something that's worth some money. That's great. I know it's going to be one of those things. So when I see the push notification I go, okay, all right. That's important. Right. Um, and, and, and I've been kind of conditioned that I'm going to pay attention to that.
Speaker 1:
12:52
Um, whereas if they didn't have that governance and it was the barbecue notification alongside the weather or, yes. Then over time people would be con become conditioned that hey, it's not always important. So, I'm either not going to look at it right now or I'm going to look at it, but it's not that important and it's interrupting me in what I'm doing. Right. That's great. Well, let's move on. Let's talk about the next one. Okay. So three down. Um, the fourth question I would ask is, um, our, my communications needs unique and the reason, um, I guess in a way like the answer to this, you know, if the answer to the other questions is such that, that it says you should be all in on the employee APP. Um, this question is kind of special in that you might still be all in on an employee APP.
Speaker 1:
13:46
Either way, whether the answer that is yes, that my needs are unique or whether it's know that my needs are not unique, but what this question is about is understanding should I go with a standard platform, like a staff base for example, which has a lot of customization, but it's essentially meant to serve a large market of customers who have broadly similar communications needs that can then be customized to fit each. But then broadly what the product is doing is similar or is it going to make more sense for me to go with some kind of a custom solution and work with a provider who helps me build something, you know, more from scratch that's unique to my organization. You mean completely by a scratch? Yes. And I mean completely by scratch. And this is an important question for a lot of organizations. Um, and when, when I say like are the communications needs unique, um, I think you should think about like things like other large distributed organizations broadly.
Speaker 1:
14:47
We see the needs are, can we do targeting, can we do governance? Can we do we have great admin permissions so that we can allow this person to monitor just this one piece of content or as this person has broad freedom, um, to offer for an entire audience, whereas this person on just a user basis is able to do whatever they need to do as an administrator. Um, if your communications needs line up with that line up with your peers and competitors and other industry players, then there may be a huge advantage to going with and out of the box solution, a standard platform at a company like staffbase. Today we have around 60 people in our product organization and they're working all the time, you know, throughout the year. Um, just on solving this, uh, set of problems that's shared across the companies that we work with, right?
Speaker 1:
15:46
So you can imagine the cost of developers like hiring 60 people is, is no, uh, is, is no joke. Um, and you're not going to get 60. When you go to do your custom project, right? You're going to have comparatively less firepower, comparatively less focus on the problem. The other thing that, that you benefit from, from a standard platform is that a company that that's a standard platform is working with all of these other companies like you and different kinds of needs and opportunities for product development are going to arise across that customer set. So says a cross pollination effect where you may benefit from an idea that somebody else in the same customer set has, um, with, with new features that show up inside of your standard platform. So I think in general there, there are a lot of, of sort of scale and cross pollination arguments that Augie in favor of going with a standard platform so long as your communications needs are broadly similar to other companies.
Speaker 1:
16:54
Of course, if they're truly unique, then you're going to end up finding that that standard platform for one reason or another comes up short for some special thing that you need, um, based on your industry or the unique way that your company operates. In which case it, it, it, uh, the trade off becomes better. Um, okay, we'll have less developers, we will have less of this cross pollination and innovation, but we will get to nail this like unique problem that we have that the others don't. So that would be the fourth important question. Are My communications needs unique? That's interesting. And just, I think one part of what you just touched on though is even if the specific opportunity is very unique, I would, I would imagine that through the capabilities of customization and just by adopting
Speaker 2:
17:51
a framework that is based upon many, many, many different organizations, you come down to maybe two decisions is one, can I use this framework and customize it to fit that need? Or two, is this need so unique that it's actually distracting me from this decision making process. Whereas like in our conversation we had about what is an intranet and all the different departments that fall in all the buckets that fall into that perhaps there's an, perhaps there's a distractor and you're, you know, this, this need is so unique and so, uh, so much of an obstacle that you could pull that need out and then focus on this framework to get the general, uh, goal accomplished.
Speaker 1:
18:34
Yeah, that, that's a really good point. And the way this comes up is really common is that, um, uh, companies will come to us and they all have actually two concerns, not just one. They'll have a communications concern. And then, uh, alongside it, they'll have usually some kind of what seems like a communications concern, but is more of what I would describe as an operational concern. Okay. And exactly what you're describing is, is, uh, often like the best way to tackle this in the end is that you untangle that there's actually, there's an operational problem over here. Um, and then there's the, the communications problem set, which is broadly similar to other companies over there. And by pulling out, um, that, that, um, unique problem and realizing that that actually, that's not, it's not the broad communications problem that's unique. It's just this point problem.
Speaker 1:
19:30
It's more of an operational concern. You could save yourself a lot of heartache, but by, by using best of breed solutions in both areas and having them work together. Right. And that's what a lot of what a well thought out. Um, platform communications platform should be able to work really well with other point solutions. So if you have this operational concern that you know is unique, um, that seems like a communication's concern, but actually you can kind of tease it apart from the broader calms you need to do. Um, then in the end, like, like you're, you're kind of intimating did the path for you could be, you get a standard platform for the comms needs where you have the 60 people in the product organization and growing and you have the, the cross pollination effects all to your benefit and a lot of the risk, um, th the, the speed that you can get the project stood up, the cost in the long run can be lower, um, and the risks come out and then you, you go out and find in the market some kind of a specialist software that can really address that point operational concern that you have and then integrate this together with your communications platform.
Speaker 1:
20:46
So you have that vision you are looking for without having to make big trade offs, um, in either direction, you know, losing out on solving the operational concern or on the other hand, losing out on all the upside of having that huge product organization crosspollination and risks pulled out from getting to work with a standard communications platform provider.
Speaker 2:
21:07
Great. I'm glad we expanded on that cause I was really curious what your thoughts were on understanding that unique aspect of it enjoying the podcast. I hope so. If you'd like to learn more about staff base, go to staff based.com you can click on schedule a demo and now back to the show. Okay. So we've gone through four so far. What's the, what's the whammy? What's the last one? Where, what, what am I going to ask? I ask
Speaker 1:
21:30
you here. Okay. The last one is, it's kind of the clincher, um, because it, it's not only, you know, in life you have like things that you work on just for the goal of, of being able to obtain that thing. And then you have like this idea of things that are more of enablers that enable continuous improvement. And so this, this question falls along that kind of, it's not just setting me up to, to reach an objective, but it's setting me up for a process where I can continuously improve. And that question is, um, can I measure what I'm doing so as to continuously improve? Because so much of what you are trying to do as a company in your communications isn't, it's not just about like having that, that I know this platform is better than that platform. It's being able to pinpoint that I have a communications problem at this plant and not that plant.
Speaker 1:
22:33
And so now I can focus my attention on this planet where the problem is and, and diagnose and learn more about what's going on there so that I can, you know, get that up to my, my benchmark at that up to par, get that up to where I want it to be. So this question of can I measure what I'm doing? It's kind of the mother of all questions. Cause if you can't measure what you're doing, you, you, who knows how much improvement you might be missing out on in any aspect of your communications. Um, and so, you know, we hear from companies that they can measure sometimes, but in a lot of cases the measurement is limited. And this, one of the great things about being in a digital medium, like with an employee app project is that you can really measure everything that happens.
Speaker 1:
23:21
And because there's more of a complex, um, thoughtful governance structure and way of organizing the communications on such a project, you can measure that and measure how is this group engaging compared to that group? You know, what's the adoption like among these type of users or this job family versus that job family. Um, and that can change the game for your internal communications and improve not just, you know right now, but improve this year, next year and on and on. Always getting better and better from measuring and continuously diagnosing and then tackling your, your, uh, opportunities to improve.
Speaker 2:
24:00
Do you ever find that, uh, the enterprise is that you work with that they actually up until this project or part of why the project even was created was because they did not have much, if any way to measure success through internal communications already apart from maybe open rates and he met the last emails and things of that nature.
Speaker 1:
24:23
Yeah, it's really typical. I mean if, uh, like a lot of companies that we talked to, we speak to a lot of internal communications folks and they, they, they say like, oh, it's really, it's really sad. Like we feel like our company is like, ages behind the car, you know, is way behind the curve. Yeah. And like the truth is like, it's not like in most cases like, um, where most companies are today is email is their digital channel and a lot of them maybe most don't even have analytics on their email, so they didn't even know what their email open rates are. Um, let alone other common channels that we see. Things like if you're putting something up on bulletin boards or digital signage or your, do, you know, doing a print newsletter or things like this, um, the tracking on that is really not great.
Speaker 1:
25:17
So the status, the basically the, the sort of industry average that we find is not super high for measurability. Um, so, you know, it's kind of, uh, uh, not to, not to say it's a straw man question in a way, but like really it's worth asking, even though for most organizations the answer is going to be that we're not measuring very well. Um, it's just so important that you can measure, um, because if you can then you can improve today, you can improve tomorrow and on and on. And if you can't measure, then how are you going to get better?
Speaker 2:
25:54
Excellent. Um, it's, it's so interesting what you're talking about here in terms of this measurement and it's, I think it actually uncovers a part of why during this journey of finding a, an employee application or in our case of branded employee application, the, the folks that are looking our PR, our marketing, our internal communications, and they all share this similar acknowledgement of how do I understand what, uh, this engagement is and how do I measure it and how do I improve upon it? And so they, so internal comms becomes a marketer becomes, you know, starts thinking about the s e o within an organization, right? So a really interesting, uh, hurdle that, eh, that that takes some time to leap over. But I can see now with that very last question that I mean that that to me is saying, well, this is how we as an organization are going to crack that nut. Whether it's, whether that it never existed in the first place or whether it does and you know, that it's just not great. The opportunity to be able to go from measuring one or two things to literally anything. As long as it is integrated within the application, you're able to measure it and you can tweak, you can change, you can fail, you can succeed. That's wonderful.
Speaker 1:
27:22
Yeah. And ultimately it's, you know, keep in mind, it's not just the abstraction of we know where our numbers are, right. You know, it's, it's real world thing is, it's, it's when you have an emergency, um, do you, are you able to communicate and help get your people out, get your people to safety, um, when, when, you know something is happening that could impact your productivity or you could save your employee's time and energy of, you know, not showing up to an office that's close today. Yeah. Um, these things have real impacts, a real business outcomes. Um, and so ultimately measurability is all about those downstream effects. Um, can, are we getting everyone on the same page about our strategy? Um, do people identify with our new brand and our new leadership? Um, and ultimately that's where the value is.
Speaker 2:
28:16
Excellent. Peter, I really thank you so much for your time. Um, now I'm going to do a little review of the five things that we discussed, the five questions that every decision maker has to ask before going all in with a brand and employee application. Peter, thank you again for your time. I really appreciate it. Yeah. Thanks so much. Take care. Okay. Let's recap what we learned today. Question One, am I in a competitive market for talent? Is the organization that I have facing challenges when it comes to looking for people? Is it turnover? Is it churn? Is it looking for new staff? Where are we with this question too? What's my current readership like today? Are we measuring it? What does that look like? Is it low? Is it high? How do we take this to the next level? Where can we learn from to make this a better experience going forward?
Speaker 2:
29:07
Question three, what am I doing today that's currently backfiring? I need to understand where I'm at with my organization before we deploy the that we can already start adopting and planning for future success. Yes. Question Four, are my communication needs unique? If so, is it something that can be compartmentalized and looked at as a separate project, or is it a deal breaker? Question Five, how do I measure success? If we're going to deploy a branded employee application, we must be able understand the key metrics in order for us to evolve and expand and improve upon on an ongoing basis. Thank you very much for joining today's episode. Next time we're going to talk with Heather who was in customer success and we're going to uncover what are the day one must have needs when deploying a branded employee application.
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