In my last blog, “The promising promises of social business” I discussed some of the benefits that can be achieved from social business; more brand exposure via social media, greater customer engagement, better employee engagement and collaboration, better idea generation and product development, enhanced supply chains. I would say there would be very few companies who don’t want to make improvements in these areas. But how do you begin to transform your business into a social business?
You must build social into your strategic plan
We’ve recently been going through our strategy planning process at Olympic. We have formulated a vision of how we want our organisation to look in two years’ time (a very long time in the technology field) and along with revenue targets, we have also created a vision for how we want to be seen by our customers and our staff, how we want to have internal processes that optimise the way our people are working and how we’d like to improve our sales and marketing. Social business tactics can be used in each of these areas.
How can you use social tactics in key areas of your business?
At its core social business is about human to human interaction. So any tactics that are employed must be geared toward facilitating and optimising this human to human interaction in every area of the business. Each of the following areas are a blog in their own right, but for now here’s a summary.
1. When working with customers – find ways to improve customer engagement
- Engage more with clients pre-, during- and post- project – Assist clients with their research pre-project, seek feedback during the project, and formalise an official post-project engagement process
- Assess and revise your customer support process – are clients getting access to the help they need when they need it, can you improve the self-help process so that clients have the opportunity of finding the answers themselves
- Seek ways to improve the client management process – give customers a simple way of connecting to your organisation, not only to the project team but also to management or a customer experience specialist so they feel comfortable expressing their concerns to ensure issues are resolved quickly
- Seek ways to create more personalised experiences for customers
2. When thinking about your people – how can you improve employee engagement and collaboration?
- As Peter Drucker said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Success with social business is reliant on the right organisational culture.
- Evaluate ways to encourage a culture of sharing, cooperation and collaboration at every opportunity inside your organisation. Staff must be encouraged to share, ask for help, ask questions and rewarded for cooperating. You must also discourage staff who are unwilling to share, collaborate or cooperate. Assess whether your workspaces aid or hinder collaboration in the office. Look at ways you can include employees who work remotely more.
- Staff are communicated with regularly; individually, as a team and as an organisation
- Staff have access to the information they need, they are empowered to make the decisions they need
- Make staff aware that it’s okay to make mistakes, staff must learn from their mistakes and not be punished for making them
- Create incentive and reward systems that encourage sharing and collaboration
- Celebrate success – by celebrating success you’ll reward staff for their hard work and make them feel appreciated by the organisation. Happy staff are more productive staff.
3. Organisational processes – improve how knowledge flows in the organisation
- Seek ways to optimise the way that communication flows in your organisation, from individual to individual communication, group communication and organisation-wide communication
- Give staff simple access to the knowledge and information they need – Where is this knowledge and information held? Does your intranet need to be updated? Your intranet should be optimised to make access to knowledge and information simple.
- Assess whether you need a system for collaboration – Enabling employees to have group conversations online and exposing these conversations to the entire organisation can be powerful. This is an excellent place for idea generation, problem solving, and product development. You must have one system for collaboration and encourage use of it across your entire staff.
4. Sales and marketing – improve collaboration in your sales team and increase your focus on inbound marketing
- Actively encourage better collaboration in your sales team to increase cross selling, leverage expertise and make use of existing resources. You can accelerate this improved collaboration by ensuring your incentive structures are aligned with your social objectives.
- Create a social media plan for each of your product groups to include blogs, tweets, FB, LinkedIn, SlideShare, Google+.
- Make participation in social media a company-wide objective – allow all your employees to take part in your social media channels, put in place a social media policy but ensure that all employees are actively encouraged to take part.
- Assign subject matter experts and focus on sharing good content, it’s not about spamming your audience, it’s about giving your customers access to the information that is of interest and can benefit them in their own roles.
5. Optimise your organisational structure for social business
- You must also ensure that your organisational structure helps to optimise your social business objectives. The key here is to break down unneccessary hierarchy so that all employees are able to contribute to conversations, not just via their line of command.
At Olympic, we’re at the start of our social business journey. Over the next year I’ll be working out ways for us to become more social. Join me along the way to find out how we’re doing.
Tara Wrigley is a Consultant at Olympic Software NZ Ltd. Tara has a degree in Electronic Commerce from The University of Waikato and is currently working towards her Masters. Her field of interest is Social Business and understanding how to increase engagement with customers and staff to improve business outcomes. Tara works with the management team at Olympic to develop new Social Business strategies and initiatives. Follow her progress on Twitter @tswrigley, connect with her on LinkedIn, read about her social business journey in her blog articles or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.