December 14, 2021
When you work as a consultancy, no two customers have the same business model or the same set of expectations. You constantly find yourself adapting your products, services, and tools to meet ever-changing requirements. That’s challenging enough when you have an entrenched business model. However, when you’re a hyper-growth company, you must find ways to scale while providing the same personalized service that drove your initial success.
When you’re a hyper-growth company, you must find ways to scale while providing the same personalized service that drove your initial success.
Interos was founded in 2005 to help customers understand risk in their multi-tier, global supply chains. With a team of analysts, Interos researched and assessed suppliers, providing customers complete supply chain maps, identifying risks, and alerting businesses to areas that required attention, but in 2015, we began investing heavily in the development of supply chain management software. Our resulting platform leverages AI to supply deep visibility into global supply chains. We are reinventing how companies manage their supply chains and business relationships through continuous monitoring and instant visualizations. Our solution transforms complex business ecosystems into living global maps that drill down to individual suppliers within any supply chain.
I joined Interos in 2020 as a Solutions Consultant with a focus on building the customer experience side of our business. Given the company’s consultancy background, Interos is well-versed in onboarding customers through a hands-on, high-touch process. However, that approach doesn’t scale well, and we can’t maintain a 1:1 training ratio without hiring many additional CSMs. So, we needed a way to deliver a high-quality onboarding experience to new customers without stretching our existing resources.
Breaking Down Silos in a Period of Growth
In the year since I joined the company, our customer base and our headcount has more than doubled. These numbers continued to grow during the COVID pandemic. But when our team members started to work from home, they found it difficult to share information as casually or as easily with each other. Teams didn’t know what other groups were doing, making them feel like they were working in silos.
To deal with sustained employee and customer growth and eliminate the siloed employee experience, Interos decided to do three things:
- Centralize information for employees
- Scale customer onboarding and training
- Build out other acts of advocacy, such as case studies and references
We determined that achieving these goals required creating separate employee- and customer-facing advocate communities.
Building Advocate Communities with Influitive
I had previously been part of a thriving employee and customer advocate community so I was familiar with the tools needed to drive engagement, and Influitive was top of mind. No other platform offers the same functionality in the advocate marketing space. In some ways, that made the next step easy. The choice wasn’t between Influitive and another customer marketing platform. The choice was to use Influitive to automate and invigorate our customer experience or use nothing and continue building every training and onboarding touchpoint manually.
No other platform offers the same functionality as Influitive, so the choice wasn’t between Influitive and a competitor. It was between using Influitive to automate our onboarding process or use nothing and continue building our customers’ experiences manually.
I am fortunate to have experience using Influitive at a previous company. There, we used Influitive to draw employees’ attention to specific calls to action (CTA), raise general awareness about topics like competitor intel, and spark interest in new content like white papers and informational and how-to videos. This gamified the employee experience, rewarding users for these activities.
Given the team’s existing knowledge and exposure to Influitive, it was clear we could use it to address Interos’ internal and external use cases. Together, we ushered in a company-wide transformation.
Positioning Influitive to Ensure Internal Buy-In
Our first hurdle was getting executive buy-in. We took Influitive on a roadshow of sorts to introduce the platform to our department heads. We demoed the platform’s functionalities and walked our executives through what it would look like on the customer and employee sides, taking great care to choose use cases relevant to the people we met.
For example, we showed our marketing execs how easy it was to initiate a LinkedIn social share without leaving the Influitive community. Instead of sending out and tracking a company-wide email asking employees to share a post, we demoed how they could set up a challenge (a targeted ask or activity) within Influitive, track it, and even put an expiry date on the action.
We also took care to position Influitive as a tool to expedite and simplify what people were already doing rather than being another new platform to master. We showed them the benefits of centralizing activities and drawing eyeballs to specific CTAs, internal training, and policy updates—without needing to send email reminders, ping employees on our Slack channels, or have them retrieve documents on SharePoint.
Rolling Out Our Employee Community
Once we got approval, we decided to focus on launching our employee community first. We decided on this course of action partly because we had some large platform initiatives planned and wanted that to coincide with this new customer hub, and because we wanted to smooth out any wrinkles before rolling out a new community to Interos customers.
Although we had already secured internal buy-in from leadership, we did a second roadshow, this time with the initial version of our employee community, complete with Interos-specific branding, original content, and individual channels for different departments within the company. We used this as a launching point to sell all our people on the platform internally before building out new channels. We even authored a promotional video as part of our communication strategy, and preceded the launch with an announcement email from our CEO.
We launched the employee hub in April 2021. In those early days, we worked extensively with Influitive’s Manager of People Operations, Taylor Lowe, who helped us model our internal community after Influitive’s own employee community. The majority of our content, however, is original. Roughly 80% of our internal challenges were created organically, with the remaining daily activities drawn from Influitive’s Campaign Content Library.
Our hard work paid off, and we achieved 70% employee adoption within two weeks of our April 2021 launch. We continue to see strong numbers, with 235 of our 250 employees joining our internal advocate community as of November 2021, and 187 of those members are actively engaged in community activities and discussions.
An advocate community can become a powerful tool to connect people inside and outside your organization.
We are incredibly proud of how vulnerable and transparent employees have been within the community. One of our challenges asked employees to share obstacles they’ve overcome. We expected members to discuss hurdles on their road to professional success. Instead, they shared stories about growing up in a family of immigrants and children struggling with life-threatening illnesses. We never expected an advocate community to become such a powerful tool to connect people.
Creating a Unified Customer Onboarding and Continuous Training Experience
After the success of our internal community launch, we forged ahead with our customer community—but we did so with some caution. We work with federal government entities that place a premium on privacy and confidentiality. It meant that user forums and discussion groups weren’t an option, as members couldn’t easily have frank and open discussions. We also changed the way we handle customer rewards to comply with government regulations. There are no leaderboards in our customer community. While there is some gamification, we keep it to a minimum.
Our customers are risk managers and CROs (Chief Risk Officers), and they prefer a no-nonsense approach. Instead of fun, fluffy content, our customers come into the community for information they can’t get elsewhere, so that’s what we offer. We provide information about new releases, onboarding, ongoing training, and documentation. Influitive has helped us fine-tune the user experience to meet the specific needs of our customer community.
The core content of our customer community is progressive module-based training. Community members must watch one training video before moving to the next one and answer a series of questions to display their mastery of the material. Everyone sees the same content, and our CSMs can track customers’ progress and answer specific questions based on quiz performance. This approach puts all our customers on even footing. On our end, it ensures that anybody can step in and take charge of an account if the assigned CSM is away on vacation or leaves the company.
With Influitive, Interos can scale the customer journey without needing to hire more CSMs to handle company growth.
We still have one-on-one kickoff meetings with new customers, but we want everyone to go through the same onboarding and continuous training sequence. With Influitive, Interos can scale the customer journey without needing to hire an army of CSMs to handle company growth. It also means that all our customers draw on a shared knowledge base. When we roll out security and application updates, we notify everyone via the customer community instead of sending out emails about the changes and hoping somebody reads them.
Interos has soft-launched our customer community, and our engineers are working on streamlining the login process by enabling single sign-on (SSO). We have taken great care to provide valuable content like training videos to keep customers coming back, but that’s only the start.
Adding Value Through Advocacy
Once more of our customers become more regular contributors, we want to encourage them to volunteer for customer quotes and stories, case studies, reference calls, and speaking engagements at our conferences. We also hope to add customer awards and other exciting ways to recognize our users. However, we must perform our due diligence to ensure these initiatives respect our federal government customers’ need for enhanced security, confidentiality, and privacy.
On the employee side, I hope to close communication loops, centralize the advocate experience even more, and integrate our community into the workflow of various teams. We need to gather more data and make the process repeatable to determine what activities and challenges add the most value through our advocacy efforts.
Nobody knows Interos better than our employees. We want to use Influitive to find the right people to help us grow even more.
I also want to leverage the referral process. Right now, we are posting jobs to social media, but we aren’t using referrals to help with the recruitment process, and nobody knows Interos better than our employees. We want to use Influitive to find the right people to help us grow even more.
Ensuring Stability and Resilience Across Customer Operations
Influitive is the core of our customizable, scalable advocate communities, and it will enable us to reach more people while maintaining a personal approach to communications as we grow. By creating two separate advocate communities, Interos has proven our commitment to investing in our customers and our employees. This investment will allow us to reach new heights by identifying internal and external pain points.
Thanks to Influitive, we are leveraging the power of advocacy to improve our supply chain management solution and offer our customers the deep visibility they need to ensure stability and resilience across their operations.
Want authentic customer stories like this for your company? Learn more about Influitive’s Upshot service.