We tend to think of Yammer as an optional communication and collaboration channel, where you can discuss topics and share information with and ask questions to all your colleagues, independent of where they are in the organization or on the globe.
But Yammer can also be used as part of a business process.
I recently talked to a Retail Sales organization that has been using Yammer for several years for a number of business processes.
1. Sharing information about customers.
A Yammer group has been created for each major customer.
Sales people visit shops, shop managers and customer head offices.
If they see empty shelves where their product should have been, incorrectly priced products, packaging with peeling labels, a nice display idea from a competitor, or anything else they find remarkable, they take a picture and upload that to the Yammer group with their comments.
This way they share it immediately with colleagues and the back-office, and the back-office can take instant action if necessary.
(For long-time readers, this is very similar to the process we had to facilitate with a Team Site as Yammer was at that time not an approved tool within that company)
2. Flagging opportunities for improvement.
A dedicated Yammer group facilitates this process.
Whenever something could be done better, this is mentioned in this group, such as:
“I notice that the company flag at the Customer Center looks a bit worse for wear – can we have a new one?” or “Can we please agree on a standard update interval for prices as I now have to find the latest prices in my own files rather than in the system?”
The Sales Managers discuss these suggestions and take the necessary action.
3. Sharing winning strategies and achievements.
Another group has been created to share wins and winning strategies, as well as losses. Of course the Sales people are eager to share their wins, or show how they have added value or made a customer happy! Losses can also be a source for learning of course.
That information helps colleagues in two ways: they know what is happening with that customer, and they may learn different tactics to increase their negotiation repertoire.
Is this perfect as a business system?
No. Yammer is not a CRM or Task Management system and conversations are easily lost without a process in place to capture and follow-up on them. Management and back office need to capture all posts manually and turn them into action lists and reports.
Posts are sometimes shared in the AllCompany group instead of in the group. (But you know you can move Yammer posts to different groups, right?)
But it works for them – the mobile Yammer app saves time for the Sales people, who are the face of the organization. They are on the road a lot and taking a picture with their phone and explaining in a few words at which branch of which customer they are and what they see, is quick, easy and useful.
As the Sales force does not often meet at the office, general improvements or the sharing of sales tactics might be forgotten without the Yammer group – but with the app they can share details immediately from any location.
The scenarios above may not work for you. But I have found that sharing examples help people to imagine what they can do with Yammer.
The other day I showed a rather skeptical audience these, and some other examples, of using Yammer. I also explained that, contrary to email chains, Yammer conversations are visible for people who get added to the group, e.g. new employees in the team.
All of a sudden one person said: “Aha! I am a Subject Matter Expert and I get a lot of emails from different people, asking me the same questions over and over again. If we use a Yammer group, we can share the questions and answers with everyone. That will save us all time. ”
We created that group there and then – it was also a good demo for the audience 🙂
Can you share some examples of how you have used Yammer for business processes?