We are a fan of James Robertson’s book, Designing Intranets, and of his blog in general. We recently blogged about the book Designing Intranets. We like it so much that we sent it out to over 30 customers, who are product champions and reference clients for our intranet software.

I had our client services reps (who deal with prospects) and our customer support team read Designing Intranets, because the principles of the book fall in line with our core values. I had hoped that one day James’ advice would help one of our customers.

Here is a transcript of how a little bit of coaching with front line staff can boost your business and help a customer. It’s going the extra mile, and the great feeling you get when you can make a difference.

[Customer]

Thank you for the instructions to remove data. I will give it a try.

From this point forward, I thought I’d give you a high level plan of what my intentions are in the hopes that you can provide me any information or suggestions:

  1. I plan to hold separate meetings with each department to:

    a. Get buy in and get help to encourage the use of our new intranet

    b. Discuss advantages to having a department site

    c. Get requirements on how they want their department site to be set up

  2. At the same time, develop all corporate areas of the intranet

    a. Gather groups of people to provide input and assistance in preparing the corporate side

    b. Prepare for training by departments to help establish regular usage

    c. Make it fun and interactive

[Client Services]

Your plan sounds good. The only caveat would be not to get caught into the trap of talking about rather than doing. For example, you can hold 10 meetings regarding how to set up the intranet site, and you end up going in circles. Everyone is busy with their own jobs, and not 100% clear on how the intranet can be used to really help the organization. Sometimes you need to come up with ideas, implement them on the site to present them to departments, get the ok – or the nay – and keep trucking. Here are some ideas:

  1. Ask your departments for a description on what their employees DO each day
  2. Ask what type of documents to the employees need to do their jobs
  3. What processes or procedures do they handle each week
  4. How many times a day do they need to look up someone’s phone number

Write down three to five really good questions for employees – the people on the front lines, customer service people, HR clerks, the guys on your IT help desk. Drop in on these employees, ask the questions, and write down the answers. Look for opportunities in the answers to use the intranet to make their lives easier. If you go into the meetings asking “what do you want on the intranet”, there is a good chance they will have no idea.

We have a client, DNV, and their IT Director wrote a blog post for us on the success of their intranet site – 10+ years old and still an enterprise tool used every single day by employees. You might find his advice useful.

/blog/six-steps-to-intranet-success

[Customer]

WOW, that’s great advice and definitely worth doing. You just saved me a ton of time, thanks.

The tone of our response was fairly casual – we had worked closely with this customer during their evaluation phase and built a relationship with them. They had just purchased our intranet software and were looking for advice on getting started.

In our weekly CS Team meeting, I asked what prompted them to send this correspondence to me for posting on the blog. The consensus was that if this customer thought it was good advice and helpful, perhaps other companies facing an intranet launch might find it valuable as well.

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