One week from today I’ll be rolling into Sandusky, Ohio – home of Cedar Point – winner of the “Golden Ticket Award” as the best amusement park in the world and of course…the 2011 Ohio SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) meeting. While I won’t be rollin in like Guy Fieri in a cherry 1967 Camaro SS – I will be looking for a guy who makes pizza. And that would be Steve Browne (@SBrowneHR), HR leader for LaRosa’s Pizza in Cincinnati OH, intentional human and good mood virus for the rest of us lesser men (and women.) Steve is helping plan and operate the Ohio 2011 SHRM Chapter meeting September 21 – 23, 2011 in Sandusky.
The #OHSHRM will be 750+ attendees strong and will feature great speakers such as –China Gorman (@ChinaGorman, previous COO of SHRM Nataional), Mark Stelzner (@Stelzner), William Tincup (@WilliamTincup), Bill Boorman (taking the long trip from the UK, @BillBoorman), Jennifer McClure (@CincyRecruiter), Michael VanDervort (@MikeVanDerVort), Benjamin McCall (@BenjaminMcCall) – all great friends, great resources and overall great people.
And then, you have moi. I’m also on the docket on Friday morning – but I’m just there so the others look really, really good by comparison. ;-)
But enough of the introductions…
Old-School = Great Engagement
I am writing today because yesterday I was on a conference call with a few hundred or a few dozen people (who knows – doesn’t matter) who are attending the #OHSHRM conference. It wasn’t a planning meeting for speakers. I wasn’t a special get-together for those behind the scenes. It was a meeting for those who are simply – attending.
Steve put together two (2) conference calls prior to the meeting and invited ANYONE who is attending to call in and listen to him and the planning team talk about what to expect, how to dress, what to look for and to personally invite each attendee to seek him out and introduce themselves to Steve and the crew. Attendees could then ask questions and get more information on the event. Right there. Right now. Personally. Gasp – what was Steve thinking – actually connecting with the audience directly?
See… Steve is all about being intentional… doing the work and making the effort – nothing happens without an intentional decision to do it and this little phone tete-a-tete was one such intentional effort on Steve’s part to make sure all were welcome and knew what to expect.
How Does This Apply To Incentives and Rewards?
Simple. Most programs are launched and managed by email/snail mail/youtube, etc. They are “mass-launched” – but what Steve’s little phone meet-up told me is that we should consider personal introductions to our incentive programs and have PEOPLE introduce them – and have conversations about them – in real time- supported by social media tools if you have the right audience.
I know over the years companies have done away with intro meetings and ongoing get-togethers due to cost pressures and the fact that many workforces are geographically dispersed. But that’s what makes this “old-school” idea so great. It uses a simple and cost-effective technology (conference calling) and creates that human connection around your incentive and reward activity.
Sales Incentive Program Launch
Have the sales leadership host a call with the team immediately before the program launches – have a twitter hashtag and intro the program, the rules the awards, etc. This gives the participants the chance to ask questions and also (and this is a big one) shows the participants that the sales leadership is on board and agrees with the plan. They are a united team.
Employee Program Launch (Annual Relaunch)
Exec team has a call – same twitter backchannel idea – with the various division managers/directors, whatever. Same results – participants get first hand info and a chance to ask questions – leadership is positioned as a united front. All good stuff.
Before Group Travel Award Operation
Getting 300 Dealers and/or Distributors to get with a program can be daunting for the operations team. And for participants – a new country or destination can be a real question mark for them. What to wear, what to bring, etc. I know the travel company sends this stuff out in the “welcome” packet – but no one reads that stuff. But if you have a few times set up in advance where a group can call in, talk to the sponsors and the travel staff it could go a long way toward making them feel comfortable with program.
As an aside – the travel company could learn a lot about the concerns of the participants and be able to help them on site with those issues.
Those are only three ways I can see taking an “old school technology” like a “conference call” and turning it into a customer service and customer engagement activity.
Think about all the ways you could use a simple conference call to “personalize” your next incentive and reward program.
And this isn’t just for launches – think about quarterly updates (public companies do conference calls with the financial world – they find value in the conversation in addition to all the paper they generate) – think about a conversation with the participants broken out by performance (top, middle, bottom)… imagine the info you might gain from a conference call about the program.
I know we’re all “a-twitter” about new social media tools… but a group conference call specifically about your next engagement activity could do more to communicate how much you really care about your audience than any Facebook “like” or twitter retweet.
Net-Net = I took 1,000 words to say “pick up the freakin’ phone.”