Tools of the trade

Keeping customers happy since 2015
I have always prided myself on fighting the corner of the external customer in any organisation in which I've worked. After all, without our customers we don't have a business! This has led to me previously getting frustrated when the focus of all of our efforts is placed on internally targeted work such as 'unnecessary' analytics reports for executives or in spending our time and money on staff events and giveaways.

However, a big learning curve for me has been to come to realise that our internal clients are really just as important as our external customers - especially when we have the responsibility of delivering digital solutions for over 24,000 staff! It's taken me a while to come around to this way of thinking, and part of that has been my own pride of wanting our work to hit the largest possible audience, but internal CMS etc. users really do need to be kept as happy as our paying customers.

In the past I have been involved in some great user experience testing initiatives to track everything from the response to a new design to the quality of the navigation but with a solely front-end focus. This has been great in allowing us to tailor a website to ensure the maximum number of leads and goals are achieved but what about user testing the back-end?

As we are responsible for selecting and managing our systems (anything from a CMS to an email client, asset library or survey tool) it's important we also involve the internal users of these to develop and utilise them fully.

What is often overlooked is that the in-house marketing team in any organisation is providing a service. Our clients are the wider business who are all reliant on what we provide to them to do their jobs properly. They may have what we deem to be a smaller audience than us, or one which is not as high profile, but it is our responsibility to streamline the tools we have in order for them to deliver on their individual objectives.

This is why I have introduced some internal user testing of our back-end tools at our regular user group meetings. This will really help my central team get to grips with the pain points and objectives of the wider business and tailor our solutions accordingly.

It's also true that many people are still very nervous of digital. They know it's required and that the digital marketing team are clearly professionals, who know their stuff, but that's as far is it goes. By being clam, collected, trustworthy and most importantly available you can be seen as a team not just of builders of digital assets but a resource on who they can rely on to educate them and help them grow. Being approachable is everything alongside making people feel that no question is a stupid question!

None shall enter!
Some internal clients may not want to be particularly hands on but for those who are it's essential they are provided an environment in which to flourish. If the central team is just seem as an agency who locks down all of the systems and builds everything themselves they will just end up with more work than they can deal with and a load of unfulfilled colleagues on the outside of an impenetrable fortress. 'Self service' is important - if only for your own sanity!

We have seen with the recent launch of our 'Marketing Hub' that the wider business is essential in informing us of what they need to deliver - whether it be in winning work through bid documents or supporting the building of working relationships with councils and joint ventures. We can then present a united front, share best practice and pool our efforts.

This also allows us to be recommended as a service who listens throughout the business and stretch our reach further as more people are sent our way to aid in project delivery and strengthen the brand.

With this in mind I am currently attending our annual two-day 'Leadership Conference' in the Cotswolds where I will be talking about the tools we offer to the business. The plan here is to increase the exposure of what we offer and show our commitment in finding the time to pay the same attention to our internal clients as we do the end-user.
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