Social media and internal comms: How O2 uses Yammer
Social media is not just for external communication. Organisations of all sizes are finding social media vastly improves internal communications, too. One such company is network operator O2, which uses a tool called Yammer to communicate internally. New Media Knowledge wanted to learn more. By Chris Lee.
By Chris Lee
Communications network operator O2 is one of the largest providers of mobile and internet services in the UK. As a complex organisation of more than 11,000 staff and 450 retail stores, internal communication has always been a key concern.
O2 uses a system called Yammer. Yammer describes itself as service “that lets employees share and connect with co-workers in a private, secure enterprise social network. Collaborate in teams, see what your colleagues are working on, share ideas and get feedback, create and edit content, and receive updates from other enterprise applications - all in one place.”
O2 started using Yammer in 2009, but previously it had operated a “traditional” internal communications system based on email, phone and a company-wide intranet, which also incorporated a basic blogging tool. Company-wide communication was generally top down, taking the form of emails from the communications team and blog posts from executives. The need for a tool to allow employees to share thoughts across the company in real time became increasingly clear, the company said.
A member of O2’s IT team discovered Yammer during June of 2009 and began Yammering with a few colleagues in his organization. With no promotion from the communications team, the network has grown completely organically across departments to 5,500 members, half of O2’s staff.
By using Yammer, O2 says its customer service representatives are able to provide faster, more accurate customer service because Yammer has helped streamline O2’s internal customer service processes. Many customer service team leaders are on Yammer, so when customer service reps come up against new and complicated problems, they can alert their team leads, who post the questions to O2’s Yammer network. Within minutes, the team leads get weigh-in from other customer service team leads, the Networks Team, the Devices Team, and the IT organisation. With each relevant party represented on these Yammer threads, a solution or plan of action is regularly delivered within an hour of collaborating together. When a solution is reached, customer service team leads disperse the information.
Derek McManus, chief operations officer at O2, said: “Yammer has been a great way for our teams to share ideas and solve problems across the business. By giving our people a platform to have open conversations, we've seen more ideas being suggested and problems solved faster.”
For example, O2 uses an idea suggestions tool called O2 Crowd that lets people from around the business submit their ideas to help solve company challenges. When support reps began getting thousands of tickets about a specific Blackberry feature, one of the reps posted her idea to help resolve the issue to O2 Crowd. Rather than waiting a week or so for the idea to go through the normal vetting process, she posted to Yammer “I just submitted this idea to O2 Crowd – what do you think?” Within a day, O2 says she had the Network, Devices and IT teams collaborating to realise her idea. As a result, her idea of texting helpful instructions to Blackberry users on how to solve the problem was implemented within a day, and the support team saved themselves thousands of help tickets from Blackberry owners.
Garry Prior, O2’s head of content delivery, is charged with ensuring that O2’s branded applications are consistent across platforms, giving customers a consistent brand experience. He found Yammer hugely helpful for identifying applications he might never have come across: “I recently sent out a message on Yammer to find out about all of the people in O2 who were building O2-branded apps. Within a day or so I found out about three or four projects I didn’t know about previously and I was able to engage with those teams and make sure we delivered a great customer experience.”
Yammer provided a “Customer Success Manager” to help O2 get the most out of the system, who offered training and best practice. The system is also highly secure.
O2’s head of innovation, Shomila Malik, concluded: “Yammer leads to more innovation. It can lead to huge savings and create similarly huge increases in revenue because ideas can be grown collaboratively on Yammer that might not otherwise have been cultivated. Innovation is about connecting dots, and that's exactly what Yammer does.”