A customer came into a Bankwest branch to open a credit card account but, sensing something was amiss, the teller asked a few questions and quickly found out the customer was a victim of an attempted scam.
Thankfully, the teller’s questioning protected the customer from any losses and importantly the branch manager posted the details of the encounter on Bankwest’s Yammer network to alert all branch colleagues across the country to the latest scam.
“Because they shared that story on Yammer, colleagues at other branches started to comment saying they’d seen similar instances in their branches,” said Bankwest’s Senior Manager Digital Channels, Matt Dodd.
“There’s a real sense that we want to protect and look after our customers and that’s coming through the way they share these stories.”
It was a natural step for the incident to be posted on Yammer, Bankwest’s enterprise social network, as a culture of sharing and helping has been fostered at Bankwest, an Australian bank headquartered in Perth, Western Australia.
It’s taken years to get to the point where employees will naturally post on Yammer, but Matt says it is now the normal place where conversations happen and people engage. Data from SWOOP Analytics shows engagement with frontline, customer-facing employees is strong, as well as from senior leaders.
“We’ve been actively encouraging our frontline colleagues, those people in branches and branch managers, to use Yammer,” Matt said.
“We want to know what they’ve got to say and we’ve got some great examples of how people have dealt with customer issues – they’re sharing their own best practice.”
Founded in 1895, Bankwest is a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the largest listed company on the Australian stock exchange, with branches across Western Australia (one of the most remote regions in the world), as well as in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney.
The bank began using Yammer in 2012 but engagement rates began to rise in 2013 when Matt joined the organisation, encouraging staff to celebrate birthdays on Yammer, share pet photos and engage in any way. The network soon grew from 500 users to today’s 4,500 active users – 98 per cent of the Bankwest workforce.
Matt says Yammer is now “part of the furniture” at Bankwest. It’s become part of the company culture – a place to test new ideas and products and to share news and information.
How to keep employees engaged year after year
Bankwest has consistently been among the top performers in SWOOP’s annual global benchmarking of Yammer networks. How are those engagement levels maintained year after year?
Matt said it’s a combination of things, starting with making Yammer “as normal as possible.”
“We’re in a position where we don’t do Yammer campaigns, we do communication campaigns involving Yammer. We look at it as more of an engagement activity as opposed to a broadcast channel,” Matt said.
“It’s very much around making sure that we’re listening and we’re getting engagement as part of the way we design the campaigns. That’s been really key for us.”
Maintaining engagement with SWOOP
Secondly, Matt says engagement is maintained by using SWOOP to report to senior executives.
“Since we’ve had SWOOP, we’ve been pushing it into our exec team as part of their weekly get-togethers as a proxy for colleagues’ sentiment and just to give an idea of what’s resonating around the organisation,” he said.
Just weeks ahead of the launch of SWOOP’s 2019 benchmarking report of Yammer networks, Bankwest’s managing director Rowan Munchenberg stepped down, replaced by the bank’s first female head and former general manager of personal and business banking, Sinead Taylor.
Matt said Sinead wants to tap into what colleagues are saying and SWOOP allows that to happen.
“Reporting with SWOOP has been really important to us because it gives that visibility and it gives that credence to the Yammer network, which in turn then builds on the fact that our leaders are interested in what’s in that network,” Matt said.
“That visibility then helps that whole thing around keeping the adoption and keeping it interesting.”
Bankwest uses SWOOP to report on the most popular hashtags, most engaging posts, most influential people – similarly to how they report on external social media.
“That’s certainly an advantage that we’ve got with SWOOP – our senior leaders understand that this is the opportunity to listen to the organisation,” Matt said.
“It’s also a way to engage.”
Bankwest holds monthly Q&As with senior leaders on Yammer, usually with a theme or topic, allowing everyone in the organization to ask questions.
The Q&As have helped engage frontline staff on Yammer and Matt says the engagement within branches has strengthened over the past 12 months, since SWOOP’s 2018 global benchmarking of Yammer networks.
“That really started with us just doing things like celebrating people’s birthdays in branches or celebrating length of service, just to build that community and that’s the natural thing,” he said.
“There’s a real sense of community between these branches because they all work in very similar ways. A lot of them are part of their own individual community because they are a branch in a country town somewhere but Yammer has allowed those people to connect and share and they understand that they’re all in similar positions.
“That’s been really powerful for us.”
The case of the teller alerting other branches to the latest internet scam is a perfect example. At the end of the day, it’s Bankwest customers who are benefiting from sharing this information on Yammer.
Matt said the executive heading the branch network regularly highlights successes on Yammer.
“It gives a real sense of that connection from a head office point of view to those people in the front line, that helps us connect,” he said.
Keep Yammer open
Matt says another key to Bankwest’s success is its “intent to be open”.
“It’s a place where people can talk, it’s a place where they can ask those questions,” he said.
A new initiative in the past 12 months has been Live events on Yammer. When there are quarterly updates or monthly forums, they are live-streamed on Yammer.
Matt said the idea is not to make everyone watch them, but to give every person in the organisation the opportunity to watch them.
“It’s more about recognising that if we run something in head office, we don’t want it just to be for people in head office,” he said.
“We don’t want those things to be seen as hiding anything. For us it’s about that transparency, it’s being open. It helps them to feel part of that broader community and stops that isolation.
“You can only get diversity if you build the inclusion so we want to make people feel included.”
Allowing executives to be themselves on Yammer
One way Bankwest ensures executives and senior leaders can be themselves on Yammer is to have a generic profile for announcements on Yammer. For example, there is a “Bankwest News” Yammer profile which is used for announcements, to moderate on Q&As and to broadcast communications.
Staff immediately know this is something official and not an internal communications post published under an executive’s profile.
“It really does then mean that people see the executive posts as being from the executive,” Matt said.
“It helps build that trust, whereas if we kept taking over the executive’s feed all the time, people can see that, they get a sense that it’s actually being managed.”
Bankwest has always encouraged employees to be open on Yammer, to bring their whole selves to work. In six years, Matt has had to remove only two posts from the network.
“That’s because we trust people to do the right thing,” he said.
“By trying to create that safe space for these things to happen we have a lot more visibility.”
If people have an issue they air on Yammer, this safe space gives leaders the ability to address that concern.
“We can listen, we can see, we can do something about it,” Matt said.
“Having our execs on really helps in terms of Yammer being seen as something official.
“I think it helps in terms of the moderation. People tend to behave themselves because they know that ultimately senior leaders can see this stuff.”
Matt said Yammer at Bankwest is a place where anyone can get an answer to a question.
“People will always be willing to answer a question and that’s something that keeps perpetuating,” he said.
“If people don’t know the answer, they’ll ask on Yammer. That’s where having that critical mass of people is really important. That’s where all the social groups become really important because that’s what gives you that body of people who then answer business questions.
“It’s been important for us to push all of these social groups and we encourage that. The philosophy is at Bankwest, we want people to come in and be themselves, bring your whole self to work.
“The Yammer network has to reflect that.”
Learn more about Bankwest’s Yammer journey.