Hot Tips for Internal Communicators

Communicating With Front Line Staff

“How do I engage front line staff as a highly productive and committed part of an organization?”
There is little doubt that customer service impacts a company's brand identity. There is also little doubt that happy, satisfied employees translates to happy, satisfied customers. Effective, two way employee communications is a key factor in ensuring that staff are motivated and effective. However, this sector of the workforce is usually remote from main offices and may experience higher staff turnover than other parts of the business. These factors can have several implications: · · · · Training is a constant and on-going challenge Staff don’t always know where to go for the right information Establishing effective feedback channels can be difficult Engagement is constantly being built from ‘the ground up’

To make the situation even more complicated, staff may be employed indirectly, for example via a franchise, and therefore even harder to reach.

Top tips to communicate with front line staff
1. Simplify the message read more 2. Reduce information overload read more 3. Find ways to ‘listen’ and gather feedback read more 4. Provide appropriate support channels read more 5. Find ways to achieve cut-through for urgent messages read more 6. Maintain levels of capability and knowledge read more 7. Make senior managers accessible read more 8. Engage staff by involving them read more

Please note) this article is targeted at organizations with ‘connected’ employees, i.e. staff who use computers from time to time during their working day.

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Hot Tips for Internal Communicators

Simplify the message
Use simple, easy-to-remember, messages. Make sure that there aren’t volumes of messages already ‘out there’ talking about the same concept, but expressing it in different ways. Boil down the key messages into a few key priorities. Think about: · · How can you sum this up in one sentence? What language do people typically use?

This can help focus thinking and simplify what you are trying to communicate. Tom Harvey, Head of Internal Communications at Nationwide, argues that the role of internal communications ‘is akin to the narrow part of an hour glass’ - there is a vast quantity of information that exists which could be communicated to staff, but only a small amount makes it through the ‘narrow part’ to be read. The trick is to make certain that the filtered information is that which is most likely to draw interest.

Try these Snap tools
Snap Ticker delivers information as an on-screen scrolling news feed to targeted employee groups. Simply write your own headlines, include a quick summary and add click-through hyperlinks to further information as required. As employees see a headline of interest, they can click-through to read the full message or article there and then, or make a mental note to review their news feed history at a later time (e.g. when they are less busy interfacing with customers). Headlines can be kept discrete if computers are located where customers may be able to see the screens. Employee’s can click to shrink a feed down to a discrete notification icon which can be clicked on later. Snap Alert is a desktop alert format that can highlight the latest updates or notify staff of breaking news. Concise alert messages can be read and digested in a matter of seconds. Click-through links to further information, allow staff to dig deeper as required. As with Snap Ticker, an initial alert notification can contain an appropriate message for customer facing computers.

Snap Alert example from Virgin Mobile

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Hot Tips for Internal Communicators

Reduce information overload
Staff can feel deluged by information and it can be a major source of workplace stress for them. In addition, an overload of information means staff may be unable to effectively identify and assimilate important information due to excessive background ‘noise’. As new forms of communication have grown, internally communicated messages have to compete with more and more traffic; if there is no appeal, internal communications will simply not be read.

Try these Snap tools
The Snap Mag tool is an email aggregation tool which significantly reduces information overload. For nice-to-know and non-urgent information, it allows you to collate such items into an electronic magazine. For example, rather than IT sending an email update about an outage, or marketing sending out product information updates and HR sending their staffing updates out via email, all of these messages can be consolidated into the same magazine by each department as quickly and easily as sending a group email. Magazines can also be themed with distinct branding. For example; product updates, pricing updates and process and service updates Snap Mag is pushed onto the computer instead of being delivered by email. Scrolling news feeds can notify staff that a new edition has been published or staff can access the magazine via a hyperlink.

Snap Mag example from Virgin Mobile

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Hot Tips for Internal Communicators

Find ways to ‘listen’ and gather feedback
Listening is an essential part of good communication. Effective communication is not a top-down, oneway exercise, but involves listening and demonstrating an inclination to act in response. ‘Listening’ can be a real challenge in this sector. Staff suggestion schemes can encourage ideas and the best ideas can be singled out for praise in the staff newsletter or at an awards event. Small prizes can be offered to encourage participation. The scheme needs to be well publicized and managed for it to be effective, with evidence that staff contributions are being implemented. Other ways to listen include: attending local team meetings, formalized feedback sessions, open forums and opinion polls.

Try these Snap tools
Snap tools can be your ‘ear.’ They provide very effective ways to ‘listen’ and gather feedback. Snap Poll is different to other surveys in that it is pushed directly to the computer screen (and not delivered by email). The initial pop up can contain an appropriate customer facing message and staff can chose to defer responding until later. Options allow you to specify how frequently and how often the pop up will reappear as a reminder until the survey is completed. Snap Poll is quick and easy for staff to participate in and can cover everything from the effectiveness of operations and processes, to capturing employee’s views and customer perceptions. Snap Forum can provide a virtual meeting place where people can share their ideas, opinions, and feedback. Snap Forum allows people to post ideas anonymously, which, in some circumstances, can be a good means of finding out what staff really think. Snap discussion forums are highly secure and provide a range of moderation options that allow you to keep a close eye on the conversations taking place. Targeting options mean that you can set up specific secure forums targeted to specific staff interest groups. Snap Mag can then provide an effective way to advise staff of the actions being taken in response to their feedback. A section in Snap Mag titled ‘Acting on Your Feedback’ can contain short features over viewing measures being taken based on staff feedback. Closing the loop on staff feedback back can really help build employee commitment and engagement.

Snap Poll example from Virgin Mobile
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Hot Tips for Internal Communicators

Provide appropriate support channels
Staff who are working in remote locations, such as branch offices and stores, can often feel cut off from the wider organization. When they have questions or issues it can sometimes be hard to find quick and convenient support. Local supervisors and managers play a vital role in providing support to, and communicating with, their teams. They can also ensure that employees have a ‘line of sight’ between the organization’s vision and their jobs To ensure managers are effective in their role as communicators: · · · · · Help managers understand how effective communication contributes towards achieving business goals Clarify expectations with regard to communication Define desired behaviors Provide appropriate training tools and support Measure effectiveness and, if possible, make communication a key performance indicator

Try these Snap tools
The Snap Helpdesk tool allows staff, who are experiencing problems, to report an issue or ask a question in an online ‘helpdesk’ format. Moderators can be assigned to a particular ‘helpdesk’ and will receive instant desktop alert notifications when new questions are posted. Moderators can answer questions directly or provide direction (via a hyperlink to the intranet, network, or web) to where the correct answer can be found. Each specific question can be tagged and is searchable, meaning past questions and answers can be easily located in an evolving repository of knowledge. Snap Poll can act as an open ended survey template which staff can access at any time in order to provide feedback or just comment on issues or problems they face. Snap Poll also provides a means to measure the effectiveness of managers as communicators. Easy answer, multiple choice questions such as… · · · · My supervisor / manager effectively explains how company initiatives will affect our departments My supervisor/ manager is good at speaking in front of groups Who did you hear about XXX from? Do you understand how your team /role’s activities can contribute to XYZ initiative?

…can help you assess how effective managers are at communicating key messages. Benchmarking this capability allows you to set standards, reward good behavior and provide training to those managers who are not performing well.

Example: Snap Poll to measure manager communications effectiveness

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Hot Tips for Internal Communicators

Example: Snap Interactive used as a staff helpdesk

Find ways to achieve cut through for urgent messages
It’s getting harder and harder to achieve message penetration with so much “noise.” This is particularly an issue for busy, customer facing, staff who use computers only intermittently during the day. For important updates, such as pricing changes, notification of system outages or major business announcements, message cut-through can be a priority.

Try these Snap tools
Snap Alert is a powerful way to achieve message cut through. It is a targetable desktop alert that ‘pops up’ on employee’s computer screens. Initial pop-up notifications can contain discreet messages if computers are customer facing. However, the employee eventually has to open or respond to the alert to remove it from their computer (unless an expiry date or maximum reoccurrence option has been specified) Reporting options mean you can report on who has / has not opened the full message and/or clicked links contained in the message. This can be great for compliance requirements such as health and safety and code of conduct messages.

Snap Alert example from Virgin Mobile

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Hot Tips for Internal Communicators

Maintain levels of capability and knowledge
A good knowledge and understanding of products, services and key business processes is essential to developing effective, satisfied staff and delivering good customer service. The next time you roll out a training program, remember, in 30 days people typically forget 80% of what they have learnt if it is not reinforced…

Try these Snap tools
Any easy way to reinforce training and measure and raise capability is to use Snap Quiz. The Snap Quiz tool was developed for this purpose. With Snap Quiz you can: · · · · · · · Reinforce training. Enhance knowledge (e.g. around key processes) Benchmark and set standards Influence attitudes with 'scenario' quizzes (e.g. “In situation A do you….?” Create competition. Inspire staff to reach high standards Engage in fun initiatives. Motivate staff with fun competitions and prizes (e.g. include a silly answer in multi-choice questions to make people smile) Measure effectiveness of training (e.g. 6 months after attending training, have behaviors changed?)

Snap Quiz is quick to set up, easily targeted to specific groups and is really easy for people to answer. It ‘pops up’ on the employee’s computer and provides options to complete now or defer until later. You can specify how frequently and how often the quiz will reappear until it is completed. ‘Silent Quizzes’ that staff can opt into via a hyperlink can also be set up. Embedded hyperlinks allow answers to be researched on the intranet and an optional display of the correct answers and scoring can provide further reinforcement of learning.

Example: Snap Poll to test and reinforce product knowledge

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Hot Tips for Internal Communicators

Make senior managers accessible
Research consistently shows that confidence and trust in leadership is a top driver of employee engagement. It is important that employees believe in and relate to senior managers and see how their role fits within and contributes to the wider organization. Find ways to make senior managers more accessible to staff.

Try these Snap tool
Snap Blog enables key managers to blog about various aspects of the business. Encourage staff to ask questions and seek clarification. Snap Blog can help staff relate to the human side of managers and build engagement and commitment. Snap Blog also allows you to enlist the people that staff respect to write blogs, answer questions and provide a credible source of context covering a variety of topics and issues. One example could be to have a successful sales performer blog about “The Secrets of My Success” and a customer service champion to blog about “The Road to Customer Service Excellence”. Snap Video is a desktop alert format that delivers video to targeted employee desktops. If face to face opportunities with the CEO are limited, Snap Video can provide an alternative. Staff can still see the commitment and intent in the CEO’s eyes and hear the passion/empathy in their voice.

Example: CEO blog on the Snap Interactive channel

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Hot Tips for Internal Communicators

Engage staff by involving them
Involvement is an important aspect of engagement and commitment to an organization. Find ways to involve staff and allow them to influence some aspects of the business operations. Ensure a process exists for submitting ideas and suggestions, consider company volunteer programs which relate to the business, allow employees to contribute to projects and initiatives being run by the wider organization and provide sufficient and equitable opportunities for staff to become involved in new projects and opportunities.

Try these Snap tools
Snap Forum: This is a powerful way of holding virtual meetings. Staff don’t need to be in the same location and they don’t even have to say who they are. You can involve people and receive timely and honest feedback. Snap Forum is also exceptionally useful as a brainstorming canvas for focus groups. Get staff involved and keep them engaged

About Snap Comms
Snap Comms provide innovative employee communications tools and solutions to a wide range of business sectors including; retail, healthcare, technology, banking, media, education and government. Virgin Mobile is an example of one of Snap clients who use the Snap channels to communicate to distributed retail store staff. One of the key benefits of the Snap Comms solution is that it doesn’t require complicated or expensive infrastructure to make its innovative secure channels available to multiple geographic locations.

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Hot Tips for Internal Communicators

Snap tools overview
The Snap tools provide innovative channels to communication and interact with staff · · · At times that suit their work flow / they are more receptive All tools have click-through link capability to drive social media participation All are able to be easily targeted to different groups of staff as appropriate

Snap is a cost effective, hosted, fully managed solution. In house versions are also available.

Snap Shots Screen savers – Digital Signage on the Screen saver
When we have staff suffering from information overload it can be a real challenge to communicate with them. This is especially true if our messages are not considered urgent or immediately important to staff. A great way to build awareness of key messages without being intrusive or adding to the email burden is to use screensavers which can act as dynamic billboards around the business. Snap Shots work just like standard screensavers do.....the difference is: · · · · · · · They can be quickly and easily changed Target-able so different groups can receive different content Can communicate passively or solicit a response from staff Staff are able to upload one personal image as their own screensaver (optional) Delivers messages at a time when staff are often most receptive (i.e. not right in the middle of their work flow) Can tempt staff to find out more via click through links Brighten up office areas making them more dynamic and engaging. Like changing bill boards around the business.

Screen savers are a great way to build awareness without being intrusive or causing annoyance. Options include: · · · · Sequencing images with text Countdown clocks Flash animated screensavers Html screensavers

It is also possible to upload power-point slides or complete animated power-point sequences . Most screensavers can typically be designed internally in less than half an hour. Web sites like www.bigstockphotos.com make it really easy to find appropriate images. You can also develop templates, e.g. in Power Point, Photoshop or any other similar application for updates such as events, invitations and breaking news which can be updated in a couple of minutes.

Snap Quiz – Staff Quiz Tool
In 30 days people typically forget 80% of what they have learnt if it is not reinforced. This applies to key training and also to important messages. One answer is to reinforce such information via a quiz. The Snap Quiz tool was developed for this purpose and has the added bonus that it can be fun for staff and build moral. Snap Quiz is quick to set up, easy to target to specific groups and it’s really easy for people to answer. It ‘pops up’ on the employee’s computer and provides options to complete now or defer until later. The Snap Administrator can specify how frequently and how often the quiz reappears until completed. ‘Silent Quizzes’ that staff can opt into via a hyperlink can also be set up.
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Hot Tips for Internal Communicators

A ‘sixty second’ quiz can be short, punchy and really effective, especially if there’s a prize incentive attached. When quizzes are set up in this way, very high participation rates are easily achieved. Like all of the Snap tools, Snap Quiz is targetable to different groups of employees. You can theme quizzes with a logo or image and automated reminders can be set up, so it will continue to reappear and remind staff to participate. Reporting via the Snap Content Manager is automatic and updated every minute, making it really easy to manage. Upon submission of the answers, an optional personal pop up display showing the employee’s individual score and the correct answers can to help reinforce learning.

Snap Ticker – Scrolling News Tickers
With the growth of the internet and other technologies, there has been an explosion in the information available to us. The challenge is to find the correct, most up to date information without having to spend lots of time ‘wading through treacle’. Snap Ticker leverages the power of RSS, which you may be aware of, but has additional flexibility and can be easily customised. Staff can be working away, and along the bottom of the screen appears a scrolling new feed. If they are deep in thought they may ignore it and it won’t interrupt their flow. If they are ready for an interruption they’ll have a scan. Alternatively, when an appropriate break in the work flow comes they may click through to find out more. Snap Ticker allows you to leverage external information sources as it can push out information updates from any source that is RSS enabled (without requiring staff to opt in, although this is an option). This helps keep to staff informed and be more effective in their roles. However, the most powerful feature of Snap Ticker is that the Administrators can write their own feeds and push them out to target staff groups. This means that you can quickly send out any news update with a link to further information, simply by typing in a headline, inputting link details and setting the target groups. This format is ideal for the call centre environment as it can keep people informed of the latest updates without interrupting their workflow. Snap Tickers are a great way to provide information updates and transport staff directly to the information they need…..anything from a specific intranet page, to a website to a document on the shared network Because communications are targetable, and you can have more than one Administrator, you can nominate selected staff from different departments (e.g. the sales team or engineering department) to manage the Snap Ticker for their audiences…..as an overall Administrator, you have complete visibility of all messages It is also possible to run standard RSS feeds through Snap Ticker, so if you have an RSS enabled intranet, you can run this in addition to customising other feeds. Another feature is the option to set up the ticker to continue scrolling on-screen until clicked upon. This means that you can guarantee that staff have viewed important content.

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Hot Tips for Internal Communicators

Snap Poll – Staff Survey Tool
Involving staff is one of the key ways we can build engagement. It’s also really important to measure communications effectiveness so we know what’s hitting the mark and identify which areas need to improve. This also allows us to demonstrate business value to senior managers. A Snap Poll or Survey is a tool which can be used to achieve these goals. Snap Poll is different to other surveys in that it isn’t too complicated and it’s pushed directly to the desktop (and not delivered by email). It ‘pops up’ on the employee’s computer and provides an option to complete now or defer until later. The Snap Administrator can specify how frequently and how often the pop up reappears until the survey is completed. ‘Silent Surveys’ that staff can opt into via a hyperlink can also be set up. Snap Poll is quick to set up and works best if it’s short and punchy (no more than 10 questions – multi-choice if possible, although various other answer options are also available). A prize incentive can help, so does the automated reminder meaning high response rates. It works best as a benchmarking tool, a temperature check, or as initial research prior to the launch of a more comprehensive (and time consuming) survey. Results can be grouped by unit – which means that you can measure effectiveness of managers in areas such as information cascade, or engagement – since direct supervisors have such an influence on engagement, this can be an important. Polls can be set up to allow confidential responses, which can be valuable in times of change and uncertainty.

Snap Alert – Desktop Alerts
When we have some breaking news – such as a security alert or important update, Snap Alert becomes a really powerful tool. It is a targetable Desktop Alert that ‘pops up’ on the targeted employee’s computer screen. Snap Alert is persistent – the message will not go away until it has been viewed and acted upon (if specified by administrator). ‘Read Now’ or ‘Read Later’ options are available or immediate full display of the message can be specified by the administrator. The size, position and prominence of the Desktop Alert window can also be preset for each message. The user eventually has to open or respond to the message to remove it from their screen (unless an expiry date or maximum reoccurrence option has been specified) Reporting options mean you can report on who has / has not opened the full message and/or clicked links contained in the message. This can be great for compliance applications.

Snap RSVP – RSVP Alert Tool
Snap RSVP is a meeting request or invite that behaves like a Desktop Alert. This tool is ideal for maximising the impact of events such as change management briefing sessions or CEO road shows. You can include explanatory text and ask employees to select which session or meeting they want to attend. Once responded to, Snap RSVP will automatically populate the employee’s Outlook calendar with the appointment. Reporting tools in the content manager make it easy to see which staff are attending which sessions. You can plan room sizes, catering etc. and close off specific time slots as rooms become filled.

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Hot Tips for Internal Communicators

This is a great tool to use in times of change or crisis management. One of the key rules around managing change is to ‘communicate, communicate, communicate’. It is really important to have face to face time and provide opportunities for staff to ask questions and express their views. However, it can be tricky to get everyone in a room at the same time as staff still have jobs to do and can be very busy. Snap RSVP can help.

Snap Video – Video Alert Tool
Snap Video is a Desktop Alert format that delivers video to targeted employee desktops: So your CEO can’t be at the meeting? No problem. Use Snap Video and staff can see the commitment and intent in the CEO’s eyes and hear the passion/empathy in their voice. Snap Video’s targeting features mean that you can stagger delivery of the video alert to different employee groups as required.

Snap Mag – Electronic Staff Magazine…with an important difference
Did you know that research show that the average office worker is interrupted 11 times per hour with messages that have nothing to do with the task he or she is performing at that time? Each interrupt has a cost. It takes time for the employee to refocus back into their work. Most emails, particularly those that are targeted to ‘all staff’ contain generic information that does not have to be read there and then. Snap Mag allows anyone in the business to input these generic information updates into a one stop magazine format. An ‘editor’ can quickly approve articles prior to their publication into the magazine. In addition to ‘user generated content’, Snap Mag isn’t delivered by email, it has much more visibility. Each time Snap Mag is published, staff members will see a ticker-bar appear which scrolls three times at the bottom of their screens. They can click-to-read there and then, or alternatively they can go to their message history to read the latest publication of Snap Mag at a time that suits them better Snap Mag is designed to be scan-able with ‘read more’ links allowing people to find out more on the intranet or find documents on the network. Snap can report on these links so you can see just how popular a particular article was and include more of these types of articles to ensure high readership Embedded email links allow readers to respond / reply directly to the author…..depending on response levels, the author can call a discussion group, summarise comments in the next edition or maybe set up a Snap Blog or Forum for further debate. There is also an option to display the magazine as a logon screen which is great because most people like to read something to warm into the day. Readership rates increase significantly when this option is enabled. It means that, instead of 11 interrupts per hour, our staff can focus on their specific roles and then chose to read all of the ‘general news and updates’ in a one-stop format at a time they choose. They are expecting these types of messages and hence are more receptive. SnapMag is targetable to different user groups so individual departments can have their own version of the magazine. Snap Mag is not only a way to cut down all staff emails. You can also use it as a way to allow staff to communicate with each other and to build engagement. Because any member of staff can participate in this magazine (assuming this option is enabled), it is a great way for staff to become more involved, feel part of the community and hence build their engagement. Your company culture and demographic may mean that tools like blogs and forums are simply not appropriate or acceptable to senior managers. There may be fears around loss of control or the impact

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Hot Tips for Internal Communicators

of disengaged staff. Under these circumstances, Snap Mag can be a great alternative. Snap Mag enables you to distribute ‘safe discussion’ directly to the employee’s computer screen.

Snap Interactive –Blogs, Forums, Helpdesks and Q&A Spots
If your company culture and demographics suit the use of social media tools consider Snap Interactive. The Snap Interactive tools have the following unique features: · · · · · · · Specifically developed for employee communication Cost effective and easy to implement Secure, hosted solution authenticated to each employees computer (or log on profile) Easy to use, ‘scan-able’ for busy people Tools to search for key information Promotional tools to drive usage and value Unique reporting tools to measure value and ROI

There is no IT involvement required to set these tools. The Snap Interactive tools are strategic communications tools and specifically designed to be easily managed and operated by the Communications team and not become an IT ‘project’ each time a new forum is to be set up or a change needs to be made. This permits you to quickly and easily try concepts out. For example, you want to implement a discussion forum around the launch of a new product …but there is some debate around whether this will provide value or whether people will participate….. These tools allow you to test uptake and evolve the use of such tools without the need for ‘big project’ budget, business cases or resource. Administrators can quickly and easily set up new forums or blogs and specify which employee groups have authoring, commenting, and read rights. The Snap Interactive tools are also user friendly. Automatic user authentication means that the network is fully secure and does not require the use of user names and passwords. Extensive reporting options such as the total time spent by individual staff, ‘rank this forum’ polls, and user demographics as well as more traditional site traffic statistics mean that it is easy to measure value and demonstrate ROI.

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