Enterprise Social Networks really do increase User Satisfaction when deploying new Information System programs

I have always promoted the use of collaborative sites among my teams and my peers to share information and foster collaboration. However, I never quite understood the power of a Corporate Social Network when you’re rolling out new applications, new systems, or new tools. Until now.

Among the many application and infrastructure projects – 125 at last count – that my teams are delivering as part of the carve-out from Alcatel-Lucent, there are several where our Enterprise Social Network has made a significant difference in that projects success.

Take Office 365 as an example: the benefits it delivers in simplifying communications and the daily work process should make users excited about the new possibilities, and one hopes they would embrace it at once! In fact, some did realize its true outcome: my office suite is anywhere and on any device! There’s no longer a need to create a virtual private network (VPN) to access corporate email, for example. For the majority of the users who do not recognize this – let’s be optimistic and add yet! – it is all about change. So beyond whatever benefits IT/IS provides with these new tools, managing the change is key to success.

Let’s look at the various steps the IT/IS teams and the digital user community went through. For the sake of being comprehensive, the Enterprise Social Network we use at ALE is Yammer.

  1. Our first decision was to appoint a Moderator/Editor that would supervise all communications threads. We chose to enroll someone who had great and extensive experience in driving user communities on a corporate social network.
  2. Then Groups were created for each rollout domain – for example, Office 365/Yammer Support.
  3. Manuals and procedures were posted to prepare the user community for their migration work.
  4. Users were requested to perform the migration of their Exchange mailbox including inbox, calendar and contacts in two steps within a very short period of time (2-3 days).
  5. Users were able to report issues or request support through a dedicated email address – unfortunately our new helpdesk was not yet deployed at that stage.
  6. Additionally, employees could also post issues on Yammer where our Moderator, backed by the IS subject matter experts, proposed real time support. This was key for users to feel they were heard and their issues addressed.

Users also volunteered tips and tricks to improve other users’ experience. This was a true example of community engagement.  And bingo, we won! Step 6 helped the user community be a successful part of the roll out.

We also managed to improve user’s perceptions and feelings about the roll out and IT/IS support. One user who was very vocal was complaining that he would miss his quarter sales quota with all these changes. Fortunately within days, he managed to see the benefits and he now holds a record for having O365 deployed and used on several devices.

For the non digital natives, and we have a few, it was a different experience. Their expectation was more along traditional modes of support: a hotline and even to some extent on-site support, which was not available for cost reasons. Post go-live support can be very expensive when you are geographically spread across many time zones on five continents, with many languages. They are also adverse to the use of threads and FAQs, or fail to find posted/shared information. Sometimes I wonder whether there is a barrier they can’t overcome to asking questions openly, but I won’t go into that territory.

In the end we had less than 12% of ALE employees logging incidents or requests thru the support mailbox, which took the organization a couple of weeks to clear. The main topics were user ID and password resets, or requests for creating generic mailboxes. On Yammer we had posts from the user community in the first few days of deployment covering at least 30 unique topics, much broader than the support email received. The response time on a Yammer thread was no more than 1-2 days. Even now, dialogue continues as employees continue to share new tips with their peers.

No doubt we will be relying on Yammer for the next program to be rolled out.

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