Editor’s note: This story is taken from Ragan Communications’ distance-learning portal, Ragan Training. The site contains hundreds of hours of case studies, video presentations and interactive courses.
Not long ago, bosses at Blinds.com gave Brad Parler a challenge: Build a digital experience that displays customers’ voices in an engaging way.
Parler, the digital communications administrator, came up with solution: Play it all up big—very big. He used four 75-inch displays that created a 14-foot-wide, 6½ -foot-tall “monolith of customer feedback.”
“This is an unfiltered view of what our customers are saying about us,” Parler says. “We’re showing the good and the bad—and sometimes the ugly.”
In a Ragan Training session, “Lessons learned: A rebel’s guide to digital signage,” Parler explains how digital signs can be more than just a screen showing stock prices and company messages. They can foster engagement, a prime driver of productivity.
“Research shows that the more engaged your employees are, the more productive they’re going to be,” says Parler, who has sole responsibility for digital signs within a five-person PR and marketing team.
Blinds.com, an online window covering store recently acquired by The Home Depot, makes boosting engagement a major goal. Whereas most call centers have an employee turnover rate of about 25 percent, at Blinds.com the rate is just 11 percent, Parler says.
Here are a few of his tips:
1. Let it all hang out.
Want to reward motivated employees and give the slackers a billboard-size motivational boost? Blinds.com did that through the digital sign displaying customer feedback from social media. Customer service reps are thrilled when they get a pat on the back, but the reactions can sting, as well.
One customer wrote: “Just placed my first order, Yolanda was very helpful and informative. Cant [sic] wait to get my new blinds!! Thank you for making it easy and very cost effective.”
An unhappy camper, however, grumbled, “The worst customer service I have ever come in contact with and won’t be recommending such a terrible company to anyone.” The post went downhill from there, and it was reproduced in huge letters for all to see.
Once, Parler watched a design consultant from sales stare at a customer’s words from Facebook. The design consultant looked as if a light bulb had gone off in her head.
She told Parler, “If that customer just knew about our satisfaction guarantee, it would relieve all the fears in their buying process.”
Parler challenged her: “So what are you going to do about it?”
She said the company had to make sure every customer knew about that guarantee. The sign sparked engagement that changed behavior.
2. Use hashtags to create unity.
You ought to see the wacky things that go on at #BlindsDotComLife. A guy dressed up as The Incredible Hulk. Creepy cubicle graveyard decor sprouting before Halloween. Men and women alike sporting fake beards on World Beard Day.
The company’s digital signs then rotate a collage that shows what people are posting in their channels.
“The thing that is amazing is that we’re getting engagement,” Parler says, “and when people take time to post, I watch the smiles fill their face when they see their image posted.”
3. Use sports-style leaderboards.
Golf aficionados and other sports fans are familiar with the leaderboards that show multiple competitors’ standings. Blinds.com tried that approach for employees. It plays upon people’s competitive nature, especially in sales, Parler says.
The leaderboard shows the top sellers among those competing in “The Big Leagues” and those relegated to “The Minor Leagues,” i.e., sales trainees. At the top of one list was a guy who’d chalked up nearly $200,000 in sales.
“It’s important for people to take pride and know that they’re being celebrated,” Parler says.
One featured staffer wrote, “I remember walking in to the office, and you had warned me, but I had no idea the magnitude this was-knowing that the entire business was seeing me rocking out on screen.”
4. Encourage feedback.
Blinds.com offers live polling that drives engagement. The polls can be as simple as, “How are you feeling right now?” or as highbrow as, “What are you reading?”
One poll asked, “What’s something you want to ask our CEO?” while another just wanted to know, “Would you rather be liked or be right?” Turned out a quarter of the staff would rather be wrong but popular.
Why go to the trouble?
“The power of polls for our employees,” Parler says, “is them knowing that they’ve been heard.”