Actuate helps Cell C ring in the revolutionary changes
Cellphone company transformation and relaunch a benefit to staff and customers
WHILE we weren’t watching you, Trevor, while you were still a mere comedian as far as we were concerned, and long before you became the CEO (Customer Experience Officer) of Cell C, something else was going on deep in the bowels of the cellphone network.
And that something was what you were doing to help in the unglamorous field of staff training, Trevor. You were watching the company’s staff like a hawk Trevor, in the company of experts from Joburg-based marketing and communications agency Actuate.
The story goes back at least a year before Cell C, through its CEO Lars Reichelt and Trevor Noah, relaunched itself with a marketing apology that some considered tantamount to brand suicide.
That, it has since become plain, was the start of an all-out assault by Cell C on the market share of the Big Two of the cellphone business, Vodacom and MTN.
And before he hit the beaches, CEO (the real one) Reichelt knew his troops has to be trained, because he realised that the most effective marketing money you can ever spend is on staff training and motivation.
The world’s cleverest ad agency and best commercial director mean little when your call centre staff are rude and your shop salespeople are chewing gum-masticating and ignorant.
Actuate is a company which blends the discipline of marketing communications, human resources and training and focuses, says cofounder Terri Brown, on ensuring that a company’s internal resources are aligned to its external marketing strategy.
In the case of Cell C, Reichelt and his executive team realised that a true transformation of the company could only come from within – and by acknowledging some harsh home truths.
Working with Actuate, Cell C developed a dynamic internal brand positioning to align Cell C employees with the new brand promise.
The idea was to give employees a sense of pride, ownership and understanding of the new brand and the skills to make the brand promise a brand reality.
Melody Lekota, Cell C chief human resources officer, says: “Cell C embarked upon a huge transformation, and it was critical to have a highly engaged workforce in order for us to be able to deliver.”
In keeping with Actuate’s philosophy that a brand promise is only delivered by employees who are “engaged, infor med, empowered, and who love the brand”, Actuate and Cell C co-designed a sustainable employee engagement programme that created a “brandforce” of employees – a veritable army of professionals who are equipped to enhance the Cell C experience internally and externally.
The unique empowerment programme consisted of trainers’ toolkits, electronic toolkits, and intranet self-lear ning programmes. The easy-to-use and highly colourful toolkits were designed to give employees critical knowledge and skills which allowed them to “live” the Cell C customer experience and deliver it effectively. The toolkits covered every aspect of the new Cell C positioning – from the enhanced network to the company’s vision, mission and values.
Noah was originally introduced into the mix as an inter nal spokesman and brand ambassador, and only after that became a key feature of the external relaunch campaign.
His part in the campaign internally meant that staff had developed a relationship with Noah when the above-the-line messaging began.
“His popularity in a large part of the internal target market was a key differentiator,” explains Lekota, “and introduced some humour and freshness to the learning and communication material.”
The electronic toolkits were “manager-ready” and allowed managers to train employees and refresh their knowledge, while the intranet toolkits provided online training for employees.
They could use these toolkits to train themselves on critical information about the business within an hour.
And, to make the experience a memorable one for employees, Actuate developed a competition – “The Mother of All Trolley Dashes” – to motivate employees to use the new material. Any employee who achieved an 80 percent correct answer result on the training assessment won a chance to go on a oneday shopping spree worth R50 000.
Kevin Liebenberg, managing director of Actuate, says the company worked closely with Reichelt, Lekota and Cell C’s marketing director, Simon Camerer.
“This was no ‘lip service’ paid to training and engagement, this was full-on commitment from the top down to literally re-engineering the company.
“What you have seen in public is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to work done for the relaunch,” adds Liebenberg.
To ensure the sustainability of the campaign and build in an element of manager accountability, Actuate also proposed “mobi-based training reinforcement” – micro bits of information for employees with built-in real-time measurement and tracking.
Also, Actuate created manager “chat guides”, which provided skills and tools that empowered managers to converse more with their team.
This supported the change and enhance knowledge and businessaligned behaviours, ensuring accuracy and consistency of information across the business.
Finally, to incorporate executive leadership into the campaign, Actuate and Lekota introduced monthly “brown bag breaks” to drive a culture of conversation and shine a spotlight on key issues.
The team also organised a “Leaders’ Launch Roadshow”, which provided a unique opportunity for Reichelt and the leadership team to chat to employees about the relaunch and the reasons behind it.
The glamorous event also emphasised the critical role that each Cell C employee plays in making the new brand promise a reality.