New Year: Digital trends for 2018

New Year, new challenges

The New Year is upon us and with the start of 2018, come new trends that will revolutionise how we engage with employees, reach out to customers and expand online visibility.

Through cloud technology, artificial intelligence and responsive channels, technology has already affected how companies utilise digital devices to communicate with internal and external audiences.

As we embrace the New Year, we look at what trends are set to further change your communications channels and how to prepare your workforce for the takeover.

Read about the top three digital trends:

Chatbots

Chatbots are virtual assistants animated by artificial intelligence intended to deliver real-time answers to customers. Global tech business, Oracle, found that 80% of brands expect to use them for customer interaction by 2020.  One such system which combines AI technology with data is IBM Watson.  A supercomputer with combined data storage of over 200 million pages of information processed against six million logic rules, the software can analyse the relevant information and make recommendations in real time.

In action: Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance in Japan replaced 30 employees with the AI system, believing it would increase productivity by 30% and see a return on its investment in less than two years.

Mass personalisation

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Mass personalisation is the act of creating campaigns or websites targeted to specific audience’s history.  It enables recipients to focus on what’s relevant to them at the time it matters.  For organisations, it allows them to micro-target individuals or groups; giving them relevant information that affects their specific role as and when needed.

In action: Last year Virgin Group introduced the next generation in engagement software.  Virgin Pulse Hub, a dynamic engagement and communication portal connects employees with relevant HR and benefits tools, programs and information.  It enables administrators to segment messages across a variety of factors, including age, location and health risk factors; delivering them in ways that resonate with employee populations.

Remote workforces

Remote workforces are when employees work outside the ‘traditional’ office environment.  With over 96 million workers using mobile devices to do their jobs, companies are fast discovering the overall benefits of employing staff remotely.

In action: Buffer, a social media schedule platform company has more than 80 employees working in several different countries.  ‘Courtney Seiter, Buffer’s Inclusivity Catalyst, shares that instead of having a hybrid remote and on-site environment, Buffer “does everything 100% remote first to create that feeling of inclusivity and equality across the board.”’

How to prepare your office for 2018

As we begin the new year, preparation can ensure a stress-free agenda.  Develop a plan for 2018 by encompassing tactics which can help improve and strengthen key elements of the business.  Utilise the five key areas when developing your strategy for the coming year, helping provide practical solutions in a short space of time:

Employer brand review

A great employer brand is one that both customers and staff will want to be a part of.  Review how it is currently perceived and how it can be improved forecasting key milestones to improve your employer brand.  Think about the attractiveness of the company, the core message and culture you have built.

Challenge preparation

Consider factors which may affect your business, staff and your customers.  Think about the up and coming digital trends; would they improve efficiency, increase online visibility or reduce costs? Use this time to research key events which may affect audiences such as GDPR or Brexit, helping address potential risks to your business.

Identify new opportunities

Use the New Year to explore new marketing tactics, thinking about mass personalisation, social channels and networking events. Consider new products or services or even reinventing how you package them up. Encourage staff to feed ideas for economic growth and provide incentives for internal contributions.

Financial downtime

Carry out a financial review of current costs and identify if you’re getting value for money or if costs could be better used elsewhere.  Do you have a bonus scheme in place for employees?  Assess how best to deliver these and what the bonuses are measured on including performance, sales or time of servitude.

Review and prepare a comms plan

A comms audit can help identify which channels work; identify common weaknesses and measure the overall effectiveness.  Assess who you are communicating with, internally and externally, how you could improve the comms channel and the best medium to adapt to deliver key messages.

Have your say and tweet us @ClearVoiceComms

At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on strategy preparation and internal communication, call or email us today and let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.

Guest blog: Speak with one voice

Internal and external communication as one

In a healthy organisation, the internal and external communications functions are close; it is a matter of basic coherence and integrity that strategic narratives to both audiences are broadly the same. The challenge is that in some organisations the internal communications function can lack status; whereas that of the external communications can prompt cynicism. For an organisation’s success it is vital that both speak with one voice.

There are matters of commercial confidentiality, but the organisation should express the same values. There should be clarity about who the company is, what it stands for, and what it’s doing, in the broader narratives. If different stories start to emerge externally, compared with practices and messages internally, this is a warning sign; an indicator of a disconnect between strategic planning and operational reality. Bringing internal and external communications together as part of strategy-setting, scenario planning and operations ensures that plans fulfil their potential.

The importance of honest and open communication

In an organisation with integrity, the marketing, personnel, research, production and senior executive departments are speaking consistently. They communicate with each other, around a shared objective of understanding the customer journey, and how well the company serves its customers when interacting with them.

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Honest and open communication is encouraged, and in both directions; such organisations treat an honest and reasonable complaint, from a customer or an employee, as a learning opportunity; as a chance to improve that customer journey and the employee’s experience.

You can test the honesty of your communications with surveys and with data. Your perception may be that you put the customer first, but have satisfaction ratings dipped in the past six months? If so, do you know why? What do your employees say about your organisation? Have your employee engagement levels dropped? And how has this affected your organisation’s performance?

How is feedback providing an opportunity?

Senior leaders, marketing, internal communications and HR should be inviting and actively seeking feedback from customers and employees at regular intervals. Annual surveys provide a broad insight into engagement and overall satisfaction; augment this with regular pulse surveys, focus groups, morning tea breaks or huddles.

Listening to feedback is the first step, acting upon it the second and arguably the more important step. Each feedback providing an opportunity to encourage interaction, engage in honest conversation and bring internal and external communication closer together by sharing success stories, acknowledging ideas for improvement, and celebrating progress.

The challenges of improving performance, boosting employee engagement, and bringing the internal and external communications together, are all closely linked activities. They are not separate departments, but distinct disciplines that form part of a collective endeavour to improve the experience for the customer and the employee with your organisation now and into the future.

Philip Whiteley is an author and journalist specialising in workplace culture and the link to organisation performance.

Have your say and tweet us @ClearVoiceComms

At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on how to use feedback from customer satisfaction and employee engagement surveys to improve your organisation’s performance, call or email us today and let us show you how communication can boost your organisation.