Amy Schade is the User Experience Director at the Norman Nielsen Group. Each year they hold their Annual Intranet Design awards, showcasing the year’s 10 best intranets.

IBF Live is a monthly broadcast sharing the very best of intranets with their membership (click here to learn more).

This month the two got together to showcase the winner of NNG’s top award for 2012.

“The Garden” is the heart of Scotts Miracle Gro, a company dedicated to industry-leading lawn, garden and outdoor living products and services. Their drive to improve the consumer experience is everywhere on their intranet. It is an excellent example of aligning your intranet to company goals and culture.

The Garden exists to serve employees and it supports the initiative of improving customer service, educating employees about the consumer and ensuring they understand the business and the importance of the customer.

Inside The Garden

The intranet tools are common: news, about us, media center, policies, and training. It’s how they use these tools that create an atmosphere of community and culture to foster their goal. News articles are about the customer, their industry, and the people of the company. They share employee stories, feel-good stories about success with comments of encouragement and kudos.

The Garden is used to promote new products, new marketing strategies, and they use embedded media such as videos and podcasts to carry the message. The intranet reinforces the company mission to bring the importance of the customer into the work that employees do every day.

One innovative example of this is the posting of call center conversations onto the intranet. The Garden has an area called “Consumer Calls” where short clips of telephone calls from customers to the call center staff are shared. Discussions surrounding these calls are encouraged through comments.

In October they launched a new social networking platform that they called “The Vine” which facilitates conversation through message walls. 1,000 associates are actively participating in this community, posting about what they are working on, sharing images of what is happening at manufacturing facilities and broadcasting live updates from events and conferences. Senior leaders use the Vine to blog and communicate to associates about what is happening in their various areas of the company.

Due to the confidential nature intranets we are unable to share a screen snap of what the Garden looks like. It is a modern, clean design with a white background, understated gray text with green links. The top masthead of the site has a horizontal navigation with a header image that rotates, displaying various images of their business and industry. Content pages share titles with short snippets of information and you click through to read more.  The Garden seems to have mastered the idea of “bite-size” content which is brilliant on an intranet. The more you can simplify the views of content utilizing this method, the better.

When you comment on an article or piece of content, the comment box is titled “Share your thoughts here”. Simple wording that is a call-to-action, encouraging and promoting feedback.

Outside the Garden

Scotts Miracle Gro empowers their employees internally with their intranet but they are also taking employees outside The Garden. They provide links to their public social media efforts like the @scottslawncare twitter account, encouraging employees to hear the voice of the consumer through these social media channels and engage as ambassadors of the brand. That is true trust and commitment to their end-goal of better serving their customers.

A shout out to Paul Miller, CEO of the Intranet Benchmark Forum, and their IBF Live Intranet Tours. Follow them on Twitter @ibf. Thank you for allowing us to participate and learn from the best!

For more intranet tweets and tips follow our @IntranetTips on Twitter or connect with me @carolyndouglas

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