A big bank shows how a social network drives business value

How do you prove an enterprise social network drives business value and ultimately boosts the company’s bottom line?

National Australia Bank (NAB), one of the country’s “big four” banks, has learned the value of using an internal social network to connect staff, build relationships, share ideas, reduce clutter, innovate and to make money.

The NAB boasts one of the world’s more mature enterprise social networks, having introduced Microsoft’s Yammer more than 10 years ago.

It grew organically within the bank, starting in the IT department with a handful of employees.

Before long, hundreds of NAB staff were using it, then thousands, then Yam Jams started – a live Q&A or Town Hall-type event held within Yammer in which panellists answer and discuss users’ questions – then executives got on board and the network grew from 11,000 to 15,000 to today’s 25,000+ network.

NAB’s Senior Manager, Digital and Creative, Alistair Reid

NAB’s Senior Manager, Digital and Creative, Alistair Reid says the whole purpose of having the Yammer network is to “help employees help customers”.

He tells the story of a successful pub in Melbourne where the pub owner was frustrated with the in-house credit and debit card terminal, known as the EFTPOS machine.

Customers at the pub were complaining about the slow terminals and the pub owner was so fed up, he was about to switch banks.

James Galbraith, from NAB’s Technology Team, was speaking with the pub owner, listening to his issues and immediately used Yammer to connect with the right department and find answers.

A few hours later, thanks to conversations on Yammer, the correct NAB team had addressed the issue, the problem was solved, a new terminal was in place and a customer who was about to switch banks was now happy.

“It’s taken so long to get traction from other measures and you can solve it really quickly,” Reid said of using Yammer.

“Why is that possible? That was working out loud, collaboration, Yammer.

“The customer is happy – so happy, he brought over other banking as well – increasing revenue, increasing the deepening customer relationship.”

It comes back to using Yammer to help employees help customers.

Like many big businesses introducing a social network, NAB faced the challenge – Is it social or is it work?

“There’s a bit of both because we are social beings,” said Reid, who was speaking at Microsoft Ignite, the software giant’s annual conference for developers and IT professionals.

“You cannot just exist outside of connections with people … to then drive your business outcomes.

“You can’t exist in a bubble.”

Reid says it’s important to show the benefits of orientating the business to do work in Yammer – to work out loud.

“Don’t just add more work,” he said.

“Take what you’re doing in another channel and put it into Yammer. Don’t add but replace.”

Examples of Yammer posts on the NAB network

By doing so, all 25,000+ users can access the knowledge, find answers, share ideas and stories and ultimately help customers.

“Educate, engage and inspire people, centred round customers,” Reid said.

With such a big network, Reid says it’s vital to have data.

He said the relationship to business performance and engagement is about connectedness, so evidence is needed to ensure people are connecting and dynamic work is happening.

And besides, bankers love data. Enter SWOOP Analytics.

SWOOP shows who is connecting with whom, which teams and departments are collaborating, it shows every employee’s online behaviour, identifies influencers, assesses the levels of engagement between executives and frontline staff.

SWOOP will track sentiment in the network, tell you when people are posting, find the hot topics, show the health of the network, the most engaging posts and give every employee tips on how to improve their online collaboration.

A screenshot of the SWOOP dashboard showing NAB’s cross-team collaboration

The image to the right is NAB’s enterprise network map on SWOOP, showing which departments are connecting.

“There is so much activity and noise, we’ve got to make sense of it,” Reid said of his network.

“We’ve got SWOOP and that’s helping us deal with that. It’s allowing more meaningful conversations, especially with senior leaders and executives. It allows more competition.”

Even though many of NAB’s executives are regular Yammer users, more are needed to draw shopfront staff into the network and help move even more work onto Yammer.

Reid said SWOOP is helping to get executives using Yammer because it gives them the data and evidence to show why it is important.

Without executive engagement on any social network, it really is an uphill battle, Reid believes.

“Leaders help drive engagement,” he said, adding a few tips for executives.

“Be interested, not interesting.

“To broadcast your knowledge and to pop it out there and just leave it is not the best way to engage in what we’re doing.

“But be interested in what others are doing, to connect with them, to like, to reply, to share. To say; ‘That’s interesting, I appreciate your work, have you thought about this? Why don’t you speak to that person?’

“It’s a big impact and a small effort for leaders. It really makes a big difference.

“Be authentic. Having comms people post is not ideal. I think you need to be yourself. It’s not that hard, it doesn’t take long, it’s best to do it yourself.”

NAB’s SWOOP dashboard

Reid said using Yammer at NAB had allowed employees to solve many issues themselves by finding the answer in a group or connecting directly with the person in the know.

For example, there’s a help desk within Yammer. This alone saves the bank bucks because employees can often get their answer from Yammer and they’re no longer wasting time or money waiting on hold for a call centre to answer questions.

“Rather than wasting customers’ and bankers’ time, they can solve it,” Reid said.

There’s also lots of sharing across the country. Reid told of a situation where a banker dealt with an issue in Queensland and shared the solution with his colleagues in Victoria before it became an issue there.

Reid said NAB’s top 10 Yammer groups, from a network of 2,300 groups, have more than 60 per cent active members but he wants every group in the network to reach these levels.

To do so, Reid hopes to have every employee regularly using SWOOP to check their personal behaviours.

“There’s nothing like a bit of healthy competition to drive better practice and to push yourself further,” he said.

As for a return on investment, Reid says SWOOP shows the proof.

“(With SWOOP) we start to drive conversations that are backed by useful data as opposed to ‘Well, I saw this and that got lots of likes, I think that might help’.

A NAB “Smart Store” in Waurn Ponds, suburban Victoria.

“It’s actually showing where people are making a difference and how.

“Then you can quantify that by saying, ‘Well, here’s about 10 things that have saved money through not reworking or creating new processes, or not having to add more complexity into the system, because the answer already existed, someone else was already doing it or it happened much faster than it would have otherwise.

“You can start building examples of how to save time and money and therefore returned your investment back to the organisation.”

Hear more about NAB’s Yammer journey with SWOOP at

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