Building team morale through tech: Iress CMO's story

Aussie fintech's marketing and communications chief talks about how collaboration technology is helping engagement across the business

An initiative at Melbourne-based fintech company, Iress, to enable better communication within teams is now transforming engagement in its marketing function and delivering a better experience for customers.

According to Iress chief communication and marketing officer, Kelly Fisk, at the heart of this transformation is the corporate instant messaging tool, Slack, which was first adopted by the company's engineering team seven years ago.

It wasn't long before other teams started using Slack to replace internal email, and a year later it was adopted as a core communication tool. Then four years ago, Iress adopted the Slack Connect tool, enabling it to establish channels of communication with external entities. Fisk says the decision has paid enormous dividends for Iress' support teams.

"They were dealing with an influx of queries from some of our clients, and they were getting lost in the quagmire of emails - one of our guys who heads up a support team was getting in the order of 500 or 600 emails a day," Fisk tells CMO. "We started using Slack Connect to have a closer interface with those clients and triage those issues much more quickly and much more easily, and more securely as well."

Fisk says the use of Slack channels rather than email has saved time and reduced confusion, as customers can post queries and know that someone will respond, even of their key contact is unavailable. Also, she says conversations that take place within Slack Connect are retained indefinitely, making it easier for any staff member to follow up on a chain of events.

"Customers have been encouraged by the speed with which they are able to get a response, and the sense that they can access a number of our people without having to ring around to get to the heart of a problem, while having that record of conversations and important documents," she says.

Fisk says the ability for service employees to find the right information faster, solve issues, and collaborate more efficiently, regardless of where in the world they are located, has driven better performance for clients. Iress has witnessed a cut in the average response time for complex customer issues from eight days to two, which she says has led to a 64 per cent decrease in the customer support ticket backlog.

Additionally, Fisk says the use of Slack Connect has built team morale and boosted retention rates.

"Part of that comes about through the feeling that even if they are working remotely, they are really well connected to their colleagues and able to get the information they needed to deal with customer issues much faster," she says.

Slack has now become a core tool for what Fisk describes as Iress' digital HQ, supporting its team of 2300 people working from 19 different offices around the world, as well as staff who are working remotely. Fisk says she is now using Slack Connect to communicate with her own external partners, including agencies, where it has effectively replaced email.

Team morale

And while it’s proved vital for maintaining communication within her own team during the lockdowns, she has since found it helpdul for boosting engagement and recognition within her own 45-person team.

"Every Monday I do what I call a Creative Corner in my team channel, where I share examples of great creative I see out there," Fisk says. "It inspires discussion and conversation about how we can take that idea inside and play around with it as a team.

"Then on Friday, I do a little Fri-yay post which is all about calling out the great work that has happened during the week, and then doing 60 seconds with a team member about what they do and what their role is, and then we dive into some really nice things, around things like what’s on their Spotify play list or their go-to dinner party dish."

Fisk says these sessions have been beneficial to building team spirit and ensuring that colleagues feel connected to each other regardless of where in the world they might be located.

"In the environment we are in now, leaders really do have to be more purposeful in thinking about communication, and you almost have to over-communicate," Fisk says. "Sometimes you might feel that you are speaking into the void, and only get the odd thumbs up or heart emoji, but other times it sparks a really interesting conversation, and it has definitely paid dividends." 

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