From Zero to Chatter in 30 Days

Chatter TeethYou won’t hear this from anyone at Agility Communications Group: “Our sales team won’t use Chatter.” But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, Agility previously existed as one of the many organizations that invest in only to struggle in getting their team to adopt it. Then the Texas-based communication solutions provider began running competitions aimed at Chatter adoption – and turned its employees’ daily use of Chatter into a long-term habit.

When Agility added LevelEleven’s Salesforce gamification app in August, it had one active Chatter user. Yes, you read that correctly – one. This was clearly a problem. The team had no comprehensive communication location; anyone in need of a sales update, for example, spent valuable work time searching for it – whether that meant vetting through data and reports in or tracking down employees for verbal status updates.

Marnee Lott, Agility’s Chief Marketing Officer was one of the people directly affected. “I needed one place where everybody was putting their information – instead, they might have one sticky note on their desk, another note in Outlook, something in their hard drive…” she said.

So the team created its first LevelEleven competition around Chatter. “We saw this as a wonderful opportunity to make it a focus and increase the adoption of the tool,” Marnee said. And just like that, the “Chatter it up” contest was born. The prize? A “Chatter it up” plaque and for fun, a wind-up chatter teeth toy. And the contest was simple – every Chatter post earned a point, which is extremely easy to build within LevelEleven’s Compete app.

Upon starting the competition, Marnee said: “I was thinking we’d get a couple hundred posts, and we’d build from there.” She was also a little worried that since it was a contest, people might post useless information just to get points. But much to her surprise, over the month it occurred, she found 1,674 new posts. Each of them contained valuable updates.

Marnee attributes the competition’s success to the fact that once her team started using Chatter, they found out they could gain more than a win; they could get organized and in turn, better manage their accounts.

After the first LevelEleven competition, in the absence of daily reminders and leaderboard updates, the team still used Chatter. But within two weeks, its number of posts dropped by nearly 50%. Marnee and her team decided to give the competition another go. They cloned the first one, renamed it and secured bragging rights as a prize. This time, their goal wasn’t to introduce Chatter’s benefits – it was to turn the activity into a habit.

Seven weeks later, the second contest ended with 879 new posts. (It’s worth noting that this time period included the holidays.) Even though numbers weren’t as high as the initial competition, Marnee said they were high enough: “We felt they were starting to make it a habit.”

Today, in the presence of another competition – this one with Chatter usage rolled in – Marnee can confirm that feeling. She found her evidence when comparing the average number of posts for all contests, as is it here:

  • Contest 1: Leader – 9 posts/day, All other participants – 5 posts/day
  • Contest 2: Leader – 5 posts/day, All other participants – 3 posts/day
  • Contest 3 (as of midway through): Leader – 10 posts/day,  All other participants – 5 posts/day

Clearly, Contest 3 averages are higher than any before – but here’s the important part: In the first two competitions, the Agility team was able to view competition results at any time. Excited words (“Ohh – the top two are neck in neck!”) filled the office when anyone gained a lead and drove the team to keep competing. However, with Contest 3, employees only receive one daily update. This has created an absence of competition, which, when combined with the presence of higher posts, confirms for Marnee that Chatter usage has become habit.

As for the overall impact, she said: “It’s saved a lot of those daily nuisance interruptions – of me asking for updates – to their day and my day. Now I can go into Chatter, get an update and mark it off my to-do list.” Plus, Marnee’s noticed an attitude change in her team: “They’re all talking about Chatter, and they don’t say its name negatively anymore.”

But Agility isn’t stopping there. Next up: Get accurate data into Salesforce. Marnee and her team hope that competition will take that accurate data from goal to long-term habit, just as it did with Chatter usage.

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