AAA and American Express Case Studies

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In contrast to Kevin from IBM, David Kligman from the California State Automobile Association (AAA), talked about an incremental project he implemented, which is a means of having a feedback string for its intranet newsletter aimed at 12,000 employees.

They’ve had over 5,000 feedback comments so far. It cost them about $3,500 in employee time in getting this project implemented.

David’s advice for Editors based on his experience:

  • Don’t make it anonymous
    • More value in discussion
    • Richer dialogue
    • Accountability
    • Other opportunities for anonymity (employee surveys)
  • Don’t leave questions hanging. Find someone who can answer.
  • Don’t let IT overcomplicate things.
    • Create easy sign-in process.
  • Monitor but don’t obsess.
    • Get your communications team involved.
  • Include sidebars with questions to prompt employee feedback
  • Let conversations run their course (even the critical ones)
  • Spread the word that it’s safe to say what you think (counsel executives.)
  • Send articles to execs as a heads up
    • Jump into conversation if needed
    • When responding, thank employees
    • Don’t be defensive
    • Don’t reprimand employees for speaking out

I think maybe what we’re looking at with the IBM presentation vs. some of the more grassroots tactics is that IBM is a huge, tech-oriented enterprise with lots of experience with online communities and tools. Best Buy suggested failing fast and learning from mistakes. I think that was the CDC approach, too.

Kit Thompson from American Express had a similar story.  They have a moderated discussion board. They didn’t have any budget assigned to this. They had someone with tech smarts on their team, who was able to cobble this together with existing tools.

It’s like Zig Ziglar says, “If you wait for all the lights to be on green, you’ll never leave the driveway.” I think with an emphasis on having a complete enterprise solution to integrate everything you will load the project down with so much cost that it will be hard to prove success.

For most companies, I think it’s much better to go for small wins like AAA and American Express have. You can worry later about integrating everything later if necessary.  And if you’re an IBM with lots of experience with these tools, now may be the time to integrate.

Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 14. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. By day I'm the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Whatever I say here is my personal opinion, and doesn't reflect the positions of my employer.

0 thoughts on “AAA and American Express Case Studies”

  1. Thanks for the writeup! For the record, we have 8,000 employees. Also, wanted to pass along this comment from one of our executives: “As a 30-year employee, I’m the first to recognize that open conversation about `pain points’ was not a hallmark of the older CSAA culture. The fact that today we have a tool like the discussion thread that encourages some real time, frank conversation is amazing.”

  2. Thanks for covering this dynamic event. I wanted to add that while our interactive forum was low-cost at the beginning, sweat equity can’t be discounted. The next iteration was even more of a group effort with tons of pondering, brainstorming, clashing and consensus building (all good) and with the help of a design firm (recommended! not free but worth every penny) it morphed into a bona fide 2.0 communication tool for employees.

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