This year’s Customer Interaction Conference welcomed over 100 delegates from 65 different Interact customer organizations to Shoreditch in London.

The day-long event included live tours of customer intranets, workshops, roundtable sessions and an exhibition of 5 different customer intranets, providing inspiration and insights for those networking and sharing experiences throughout the day.

Customer Interaction also marked the conclusion and announcement of this year’s Interact Excellence Awards, celebrating excellence and innovation from across the Interact customer community over the course of 2016.

The Interact judges faced a challenge: with so much variety, innovation and originality on show, our customers truly showcased the power and potential of the Interact platform and just how that can translate into their own business. Due to the strength of entries, we even introduced a new surprise category during judging for best innovations.

Here, we take a look at the amazing work and achievements of those recognised on the day.

The Interact Excellence Awards

Immerse yourself in the experience of the Awards evening via our Facebook Live video, below:

Best Intranet Launch

Launching and embedding a new intranet is one of the primary challenges faced by each and every one of our customers.

The Best Intranet Launch award uncovers the best examples of intranets that engage the entire workforce, demonstrating an understanding of both the collective and unique challenges they face. Effective communication has been used to raise awareness and encourage adoption, with measurable results to show how and why the launch phases was such a success.

This year’s finalists were:

  • ASOS 

ASOS proved a great example of how to engage a millennial audience, with a strong focus on blurring the edges between intranet and Instagram activity – highly visual and accessible. The inclusion of Executives actively using and discussing features also impressed us. It was easy to see why their intranet has been such a success with great uptake.

  • NSPCC 

One of the UK’s largest children’s charities, the NSPCC delivered a textbook launch that demonstrated well thought-out research, established measurements for success and a thorough understanding of the personas representing roles across their organisation.

  • Sky Betting and Gaming 

Providing inspiration for any rapidly growing business and the communications challenges that can bring, the Sky Betting and Gaming approach was truly strategic. A seamless launch coupled with a desire to make their intranet “the place to go” to access all other business applications helped embed it across all users. By harnessing the experience of single sign on, this great entry truly made their intranet the heart of the business.

Winner: NSPCC

The judges with impressed with the thoroughness of the NSPCC’s launch. The intranet team undertook excellent employee research before creating personas that would ensure their intranet meet the real needs of employees. An engaging launch communications plan created buy-in and engagement from the outset, resulting in the NSPCC being recognised for the Best Intranet Launch Award of 2016.

intranet excellence

Stakeholder Superstar

Successful intranets invariably have engaged stakeholders, who recognise its value and ensure that some of the cultural blockers to adoption are mitigated or removed. Without this input, many intranets would suffer low adoption rates and struggle to meet strategic objectives.

The Stakeholder Superstar is a new category, designed to identify the fantastic work this group do to make our intranets so successful.

This year’s finalists were:

  • International Federation of Accountants – Alta Prinsloo

Executive Director, Strategy and Chief Operating Officer Alta Prinsloo removed the typical C-Level barriers some intranets can face on their path to success. Latasha Williams, Marketing Communications Practitioner at IFAC shares:

“Alta used her executive influence to aid with senior staff buy-in. As of today, our top 4 influencers are our 4 most senior executive staff: our CEO, COO, CFO, and the Executive Director of Quality and Member Relations.

“It is without a doubt their involvement, impact, and influence on our intranet is related to Alta’s peer influence and encouragement for them to produce a Senior Leadership blog. She also co-hosted our intranet launch!”

  • Royal College of Nursing - Laura Wager

The Royal College of Nursing wanted to recognize and celebrate the power of one of its greatest intranet advocates: the director who asks, “Why aren’t we doing this on the intranet?”. Laura, Head of Internal Communications, demonstrates her passion for the Royal College of Nursing and its intranet project:

“This week I received one of my favourite emails ever. It was from a senior manager to all 63 members of his department, announcing – actually scrap that, he was really celebrating – the creation of their new online team…this email warmed my heart quite a bit!

I’m now trying to figure out how I can convince other senior managers to follow in this individual’s footsteps. It’s safe to say I will be spoiling him rotten for the next few months and looking for the right time to celebrate the inevitable success of their team with the rest of the organisation.”

  • South East Water – Steve George

As internal communications practitioners, we recognise the necessary evil of ghost writing. However, South East Water enjoy the rarity of a senior executive who not only blogs personally, but demonstrates the value of listening and learning from collaboration and has become a full-blown, selfie-taking participant of its intranet community, Gurgle.

Stephanie Hamm of South East Water picks up the story of Steve George, the Customer Services Director:

“Steve’s Diary was previously sent out via email, but when our new intranet arrived he took the plunge and moved it into a blog format.

“His first entry on Gurgle was used to draw attention to the features of the new intranet, cover the launch events that took place that week and thank the staff involved in introducing the new intranet.

“Steve’s Diary is hotly anticipated each Friday, not least due to his legendary selfies which accompany each story in his diary. His blog is incredibly popular, with over 7,370 hits over the last four months; 627 of which are unique visits – that’s a massive two thirds of our workforce!

“Steve writes his diary himself week in week out, and even ensures that one of his colleagues can write one in his place if he is on annual leave. Highlighting the fact that employees can access Gurgle anywhere, any time and on any internet-enabled device, he even wrote one on a train.  We think it is probably very rare for a company director to write his own blog every week, let along to produce one with multiple selfies included in it.”

Winner: IFAC

All three finalists showed the power having a representative of senior management can bring to your intranet’s success, making this a tough decision for the judges to make.

However, eventually we agreed that the value and pivotal influence of C-level stakeholders on the success of your intranet site is truly paramount – and Alta of the International Federation of Accountants is the COO we all wish we had.

Judges Awards for Best Innovations

Often due to the sheer quality and effort of customer intranet teams, we see amazing ideas which may not quite fit in the original categories.

This new category, unannounced until the Awards night, highlights ideas and execution we felt deserved special recognition. There weren’t winners and runners up in this category; rather, the judges felt five companies in particular were deserving of recognition for their great work:

  • BPHA

Employee-driven content is a great foundation for successful collaboration and we always like to see somebody trying something new. At Housing Association BPHA, there were a few notable examples:

Alex Kellett provided a great way to introduce employees to new technologies in Futures Housing’s award entry last year. Furthermore, Communications Officer Joanna Harvey introduced us to the wonderful Yeti in the same year’s awards, a fluffy character employees could take on holiday on the agreement that took photos with Yeti and booked via the Absence Manager tool – increasing usage and engagement with the intranet.

Adam Gould, Head of Customer Contact, continued this theme by encouraging users to adopt image technology to create new scenarios for Bumble, the fluffy mascot of BPHA’s intranet. Here’s Bumble photoshopped with the Red Arrows:

bpha intranet excellence

  • Chevron Federal Credit Union

Jill Staten, VP of Human Resources at Chevron Federal Credit Union, gave a great account of creating an essential intranet on a limited budget.

The provision of three training courses a week for employees helped Chevron Federal Credit Union answer the critical “what’s in it for me?” question for its users, pulling traffic to their site. Training sessions also encouraged users to share imagery, which proved a great attraction to build a well-used and engaging intranet site.

  • March of Dimes

We absolutely loved the March of Dimes’ concept of a 3’0 day engagement challenge’, which encouraged employees to adopt one simple behaviour a day to ease them in to using the various tools available to them. This idea has since been widely adopted by plenty of other organisations, supporting the intranet launch and onboarding process.

  • OneFamily

Interact is a flexible tool and it is great to see organisations extensively using the Developer Framework to shape it to their needs.

Claire Fellows of OneFamily showcased a range of techniques they had used to expand upon the out-of-box functionality and adapt their own intranet to OneFamily’s unique business needs and requirements. 

  • Ultra Electronics

Looking to create an army of bloggers? Shona Wright and Gary Boon of Ultra Electronics demonstrated a superb approach, offering avatars for their bloggers that made for a personable and engaging approach, introducing an element of ‘gamification’ and personality to the blogging experience on their own intranet:

ultra electronics intranet excellence

Best Intranet Design

Design awards can often focus too heavily upon beautiful homepages, but we know from experience that an effective intranet design goes far beyond first impressions or single pages.

With this award, we were looking for examples which wowed their users with their look, information architecture, glossary and simplicity of use.

This year’s finalists were:

  • Kent Community Health NHS Trust -

Kent Community NHS Trust has created a site which puts the user first. The design considered the various devices their nurses and health practitioners use, ensuring a superb experience and functionality across laptop, tablet and phone.

  • South East Water

South East Water demonstrated a site which looks fun and interactive, making it easy to see why contribution across the business has been so strong. A distinct information architecture took the guesswork out of the user experience, and the site is consistently stunning from homepage through to content areas and pages.

  • Yorkshire Building Society -

The Yorkshire Building Society faced a monumental challenge catering for five separate businesses and ensuring their look stayed on brand for those audiences. From page design tailored for in-branch employees, the use of accordion menus to allow users to pinpoint information instantly through to a simple information architecture, the Yorkshire Building Society team has succeeded in making the highly complex appear simple.

Winner: Kent Community Health NHS Trust

All three finalists were a joy to experience, each showing that extensive consideration had gone into design and their target audience.

The Kent Community Health NHS Trust just swayed the decision with their tablet-first approach, showing true consideration for an audience that can be typically challenging to engage. The result ensured instant and enduring success for their site.

kent health intranet excellence

Best Intranet Success Story

In our day-to-day delivery and management of customer intranets, we often discuss “essential intranets”: those that become so greatly embedded and valued as part of the business that users could not imagine not having their intranet as part of the working day. In our experience, we’ve found part of that transition is often having a ‘killer feature’, which then sees stakeholders asking: “why aren’t we doing this on our intranet?”

This year’s finalists were:

  • Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

Intranet Manager Ayesha Graves has catalysed blogging throughout FSB, bringing in both senior management and remote workers to their intranet. The increase in collaboration is fantastic, with a host of ringing endorsements including this one from Lindsey, Field Development Manager at FSB:

“Working remotely, it’s hard to keep up-to-date with what’s happening… but as a result of the blogs on myfsb, I now feel more aware of what’s happening within the company I work for.”

  • Metropolitan Housing

We often face the challenge and discussion of how to identify the business value and ROI of your intranet, including the need to make that data ‘real’ to various stakeholders and their needs.

Lindsay Narey, Communications Executive for Metropolitan Housing, has been one of the first we have seen to equate collaborative activity to employee engagement figures and targets, to powerful means. It is something we hope to see more customers doing going forwards.

  • Monarch

Many customers try to initiate collaboration in their business; but what do you do when that collaboration is already occurring on public channels, limiting your ability to reply and build?

Through a thorough engagement plan and superb targeting of a range of roles across their business, Monarch are a shining example of how to engage workers in a 24/7 environment.

Winner: Metropolitan Housing

All three finalists provided superb measures on how their initiatives were driving engagement and activity.

However, we were particularly excited by Metropolitan Housing’s ability to equate their activity to harder engagement figures. Their approach provides an instant understanding of the benefit of their intranet and work to senior stakeholders.

metropolitan housing intranet excellence

Essential Intranet Award

Known amongst our customers as ‘the big one’, this award recognises the leading intranet which is critical to business success. Who took the crown?

Our finalists were:

  • AO.com

AO successfully provides an incredible online environment which engages audiences around the business from head office through to distribution centres – an audience notoriously difficult to engage in many retailers.

Through a mixture of personalisation and weekly rituals (the Friday GIFs featuring a different department each week is something to behold), AO’s intranet is somewhere you really do come to understand what’s happening in the business and to get work done.

  • Make-A-Wish Foundation

The Make-A-Wish Foundation faced a challenge. The organisation had 62 highly performing chapters, but there was little thought or desire to branch ideas out across the entire charity.

Communications Coordinator Jamie and his team transformed their collaborative approach with 720 forum contributors a month, working together to create even better wishes to grant to the children they support. Questions from ‘Ideas to Make a Wish Even Better’ through to advice on how you engage a child’s siblings and make them feel included have all been discussed on the intranet, producing a greater, charity-wide approach.

  • Waterstones

How do you transform an intranet historically focused solely on business processes and tasks into a collaborative, engaging platform for all users? This was the challenge faced by Waterstones, whose intranet was primarily used for employees around Europe to solely to perform process tasks such as checking stock.

To address the issue, Waterstones Head of Internal and Customer Communication, Suzie Robinson, delivered an iterative launch of its new collaboration and communication-focused intranet which increased activity by 56%, with 88% of all employees now logging in on a weekly basis. The result was measurable transformation of the culture of Waterstones, with the intranet becoming a centralised collaboration and communication platform of true value to all its users.

Winner: Make-a-Wish Foundation

Another tough category to call, but the incredible transformation of the Make-a-Wish Foundation based on their new collaborative culture was an inspirational story with true business benefit.

To that end, it is fitting to leave the final words to Josh DeBurghe, Director of National Communications for Make-a-Wish Foundation: