Please welcome Kyla Shea, global communications strategist at CSG, to today’s latest Culture, Comms & Cocktails podcast episode.
CSG offers software solutions (including digital billing, customer interactions, and payments services) that help companies around the world monetize and digitally enable a seamless customer experience. Operating across more than 120 countries worldwide, CSG manages billions of critical customer interactions annually and is the trusted partner driving digital innovation for hundreds of leading global brands, including AT&T, Charter Communications, Comcast, Formula One, and Telstra.
Kyla has worked as global communications strategist at CSG for a little over three years; she and I will chat about CSG’s culture of feedback, reaching employees that are always on the move, and the impact of creative content.
“As part as an evolving communication strategy, we really liked that the SocialChorus platform could integrate with the current channels we were already serving up to employees. For instance, the intranet, we’re able to easily integrate that, so that way we are consistently giving the same message and using the tools that we already had to make an integrated approach. The mobile experience, the always connected experience has become expected. And I think what we didn’t have before is we didn’t have a way for employees to engage back with the messaging that we were providing… People are able to like and comment, but they’re also able to share things outside the organization.”
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Culture, Comms, & Cocktails Episode #17 Transcript
This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and readability.
Chuck Gose: Is there anything that CSG doesn’t do? Because it sounded like quite a bit.
Kyla Shea: I know, right? There’s some stuff we don’t do, but I think we do a lot.
Chuck Gose: Absolutely.
Kyla Shea: And we’re definitely a growing dynamic company. Our sweet spots for years have been communication service providers, but we’re definitely moving into other industries like government, utilities, healthcare. So, yeah. It’s an exciting time to be a part of CSG.
Chuck Gose: And talk about where the company is located or where are the people who work at CSG?
Kyla Shea: So, that’s a great question. Our corporate headquarters are in Denver, Colorado. I’m located in Omaha, Nebraska, which is one of our largest employee base actually. But we are geo dispersed across the world. You know, we have a location on every continent, except for Antarctica. So, yeah. We are, and like I said, a growing company with a growing workforce.
Chuck Gose: You guys couldn’t just get one person stationed there?
Kyla Shea: No. Sorry.
Chuck Gose: Now, from what I’ve heard, a lot of CSG’s culture is driven by feedback, and also not being afraid of what that feedback might tell you. And at a lot of companies, that makes them a little nervous. What did you learn from employees when you asked them how they want to be communicated with or what do they want to hear from the company?
Kyla Shea: Ironically we are going through a survey right now about culture. So, I think it’s good that leadership really values the feedback from employees, because employees are the ones helping grow the business. And so, employees like myself are definitely large stakeholders within the organization. As a communications team the feedback that we received [is] our employees are inundated with so many messages, whether it’s email or IM, or outside people emailing them. They’re just inundated with all the communications they’re receiving, and that can kind of dilute the key messaging that we want to resonate throughout the organization.
The other feedback that we received was that people were receiving communications not only too much, but some of them that didn’t resonate with them or wasn’t relevant to how they fit within the organization.
Chuck Gose: What did you do with that feedback? So, everybody told you that we’re being inundated or there’s so much coming in, what did you guys do to solve that? Or at least take steps to begin solving that.
Kyla Shea: We knew that the current technology tools that we had implemented as a communications team weren’t going to solve those issues. So, after some research and talking to other communicators through different organizations that we’re a part of, we found that an employee mobile app—SocialChorus being the provider of that app—was going to help reach some of the goals and solve some of the issues that employees were sharing with us.
Chuck Gose: And the name of that new platform is?
Kyla Shea: The Buzz.
Chuck Gose: Where did that come from?
Kyla Shea: We actually wanted to let employees chime in on what we were going to call our app. And The Buzz really seemed to resonate, and it really gave the theme of what we were trying to do with this app, which is serve up fresh, dynamic content
Chuck Gose: And to build up some buzz for The Buzz, you started with a pilot, which some companies do, some companies don’t. So, how was this helpful for you as a communicator? Using the pilot?
Kyla Shea: We really wanted to engage our other partners throughout the organization who were communicating and had a lot to communicate besides our corporate communications team. So, that would include our IT and security folks, of course HR, the executive team, anything from the technology and product organization, so on and so forth. So, I think one of the main goals of the pilot was to get those, what we call channel partners, on board and invested in the success of The Buzz. We said “This is your opportunity to share the type of content that you want to, and it’s another way to reach employees instead of always sending email, to let them digest it as they need to.”
But I think what also was important was for us to just test the overall functionality of the app as well as see how campaigns, for instance, work. If push notifications were effective. Again, feedback is important in our culture. And so, we wanted those users as part of the pilot to also provide feedback on what they thought was valuable so it would drive the strategic plan of The Buzz going forward. And the changes that we wanted to make before we actually launched enterprise-wide, gain buy in from other people within the organization. So, we directly invited different people in different roles, different levels within the organizations, everybody from different countries. So, we tried to build that organic growth before we launched enterprise-wide.
Chuck Gose: Now The Buzz launched in January of this past year.
Kyla Shea: It was in the spirit of starting fresh. We wanted to launch The Buzz right after the new year.
Chuck Gose: What were some of the goals and which of those goals have you already accomplished?
Kyla Shea: I think the goals and objectives that we have set out have really lined up with what we’ve been able to accomplish so far. I still think we’re growing and changing based on the feedback we received from users and non users.
But kind of the highlight of our goals are to be able to deliver that content and messaging via the mobile experience, because we do have a geo dispersed workforce. We have sales teams that are traveling constantly and aren’t always sitting at a computer. We also have nearly 400 production workers who are never checking email or even signing onto a computer on a consistent basis. But we just want to keep things fresh and constantly deliver relevant, personalized content I think is the important word as we heard from employees that some of the messaging that they were receiving wasn’t relevant to how they fit in with the organization.
And then as part of an evolving communication strategy, we really liked that the SocialChorus platform in the app could integrate with the current channels we were already serving up to employees. For instance, the intranet, we’re able to easily integrate that, so that way we are consistently giving the same message and using the tools that we already had to make an integrated approach. The mobile experience, the always-connected experience has become expected. Before, we didn’t have a way for employees to engage back with the messaging that we were providing. And so, this has really enabled those social and advocacy capabilities. People are able to like and comment, but they’re also able to share things outside the organization.
And then one really important thing which is helping us measure success but also plan out what we want to do next with The Buzz, is that rich, consistent data that was all over the place before, and now it’s all in one consolidated easy to access place. That’s really important for us.
Chuck Gose: And as a communicator, what does it mean to be able to publish in one place and have it go, whether it is to the app itself or out to the intranet? How has that helped your life there as the communicator?
Kyla Shea: What I think of immediately is working smarter, not harder. At CSG we try to provide seamless experience, so internally we should be providing that seamless experience as well to our employees.
Chuck Gose: One of the channels you have in The Buzz is called Life at CSG, and it encourages employees to share a bit about themselves, which in the past has been kind of tough for some employees to do. What has the response been to this ask of getting your employees to share a bit of themselves with the rest of the company?
Kyla Shea: We talked about having that geo dispersed workforce. So, someone in the United States may never meet someone in Bangalore, India, or Australia. User feedback [indicates] it’s really just helping connect people across the organization. I’ll say that our Life at CSG channel has the most followers. So not only our people watching that channel, but it’s one of our most active channels as well. And it’s just really great to, not even put faces with names, but just to see cultures in different offices, holidays that you didn’t know are happening. So, I really think that that channel has gone over well, and along with our leadership and strategy channel, that’s one of our most active channels.
Chuck Gose: And then after launch, you conducted a survey and asked employees what’s working, what’s not working. What did they tell you? And then what did you do with this feedback? How long after launch did you ask them this?
Kyla Shea: We waited a quarter. So, at the beginning of April we decided to send out a user survey, which was easy. But we also wanted to tap into our untapped market, which is non-users, right? So, we sent surveys out to both, but from our users we heard some great things, including “love the content, love to be able to connect to the organization, love the personalized experience.”
From the users, what we heard that could use the most room for improvement was the channel strategy within the app. So, it was a little confusing. And so, of course we took that to heart. And we are currently in the process of redefining and revamping our channels, because when we were marketing this app from the beginning, we said, you’re going to be able to personalize the content you received. And when we looked at it, we saw some of the content was being cross-posted to numerous channels. So, we found a way to tighten that up and make it easier for employees to find the content that they really wanted to see.
So, I think from the non-users, what we discover there was kind of what we already knew and that was, “I don’t necessarily want a mobile app on my personal device.” We have now been communicating and we try to reiterate that, “Hey, there’s also a desktop version of this app.” So, if you prefer to access it, you can go to Inside CSG, that integrated channel strategy and link directly out to The Buzz, and you won’t be missing any of the content and you’ll get the same type of experience.
Chuck Gose: It’s pretty common when you go for a launch, there are some educated guesses you have to make when it comes to content strategy and channel strategy. And sometimes you get some things right, sometimes you get things wrong and that’s okay. And I think it’s great that you guys went out and asked your coworkers what’s working, what’s not. And then what I think is great, you’re creating this closed loop of feedback where they’re telling you you’re making changes. So, the next time you go out and ask for feedback whether it’s related to the buzz or something else, there’s a little bit more confidence built in. That, okay, this feedback isn’t just information. They’re going to take action off of that feedback. And it sounds like that’s a big part of the culture there at CSG.
Kyla Shea: And like I talked about redefining the channels within The Buzz, one of the things that we are communicating is going to be, “Hey, we heard you. We’re getting to improve your experience within The Buzz and that’s because we received feedback from you.”
Chuck Gose: I’ve only heard great things about the organization, the work you guys have done. And maybe one day employees will want the app on their personal devices. If not, they can get it through the intranet, or through the web experience. So, kudos to you and everyone else there at CSG who worked really hard on getting The Buzz launched and continue to maintain and grow it.
Kyla Shea: Thank you. Appreciate that.
Chuck Gose: So, we talked about the Culture and Comms activities there at CSG. Now to the fun, more fun part, not just the fun. The more fun part maybe of the podcast is, Kyla, what is your favorite cocktail?
Kyla Shea: So, mine would be a dirty martini. Because I’m always a little extra. I have to have the blue cheese olives with it.
Chuck Gose: And what is your, what is your preferred liquor inside your martini? Are you a vodka, are you a gin?
Kyla Shea: Vodka.
Chuck Gose: So dirty vodka martini.
Kyla Shea: With blue cheese-stuffed olives.
Chuck Gose: There you go. Kyla, thanks for being a great guest here on Culture, Comms & Cocktails.
Kyla Shea: Yep. Thank you. It was really exciting to be here.
Chuck Gose: And continue the great work.
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