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Success Story

How Colt’s listening strategy boosted the employee and customer experience during COVID-19

By Yves Duhaldeborde | July 27, 2020

A case study demonstrating how a fine-tuned listening strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic helped Colt Technology Services maintain a strong focus on both its employees and its customers, and enabled the organization to achieve a Net Promoter Score of 70.
Employee Engagement |Talent
COVID 19 Coronavirus

The challenge

Colt Technology Services, a worldwide provider of high bandwidth services, faced a twofold challenge as the COVID-19 crisis unfolded and companies across its global footprint went into lockdown. Externally, Colt needed to meet the rapidly rising demand for bandwidth due to more people working from home and an increased use of conferencing and video streaming services. Internally, Colt needed to rethink how it engaged and motivated its newly remote managers and employees as they responded to this surge in network traffic and worked to enable their customers to continue running their businesses.

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Colt Technology Services

Colt Technology Services provides high bandwidth services for enterprises and wholesale customers in Europe, Asia and North America’s largest business hubs. Colt has built its reputation on putting its customers first, with a focus on delivering a true local presence and agility for global enterprises.

Colt had previously worked with Willis Towers Watson to develop an employee listening strategy that had helped shape its employee experience and drive its business success. The listening strategy relied on diverse listening tools, including an annual employee survey, pulse surveys designed to capture real-time employee feedback, and surveys supporting strategic initiatives (such as Colt’s inclusivity index survey).

The COVID-19 crisis posed the biggest test for Colt’s listening strategy. During this time of uncertainty and stress, it was more important than ever for Colt to quickly uncover and address employee concerns, if they were to continue to provide customers with the service and support they required. Colt’s Head of Employee Experience and Head of Internal Comms recognized that to achieve this objective they needed to fine-tune and refocus Colt’s listening strategy with the support of Willis Towers Watson.

The approach

Colt quickly planned and implemented a range of informal and formal listening activities. A weekly all-hands meeting led by the CEO and other senior leaders not only provided employees with regular updates, but afforded them the opportunity to post anonymous questions via the Slido tool. These questions served as a platform for active listening and helped the Colt leadership understand what was important to employees during the crisis. Based on this feedback, Colt implemented a number of important policies, including providing financial support to help employees set up a home office and making the commitment to pay a substantial proportion of sick pay if an employee happened to contract the virus.

The COVID-19 Pulse Survey

To understand employees’ needs and concerns on a deeper level, Colt designed and implemented a COVID-19 pulse survey. To launch this project, it was necessary to engage a number of key stakeholders, including the EVP of HR, the executive leadership team, HR business partners and works councils. The Head of Employee Experience proposed that the survey focus on three key areas:

  • Business operations: How were employees adapting to new ways of working, and was the organization helping employees focus on their goals?
  • Employee support: How well was the organization keeping employees informed and inspiring confidence in leadership through the support provided to employees?
  • Employee wellbeing: How connected were people feeling at the moment, and were they able to focus on their work? How high were the anxiety levels?

The key stakeholders quickly signed off on these topics. Colt worked closely with the Willis Towers Watson Customer Success Manager to design the survey, selecting questions that were most relevant to the organization. The survey consisted of ten closed-ended questions plus an open-ended question at the end on what else Colt could do to help support employees. This combination of questions provided a rich set of analytics.

Using the Willis Towers Watson survey tool, Colt was able to conduct the survey over the course of just one week. Because Colt had considerable prior experience of using the tool, it was also able to turn around the survey analysis very speedily.

The results

The survey had a response rate of 78%, reflecting employees’ eagerness to share their views. The results were very positive, with scores on nine of the questions in the <90% favourable range. This suggests that Colt’s continuous listening strategy and focus on the employee experience had helped it to build the kind of workforce resilience that is critical to persevering in times of crisis.

Other key survey insights included:

  • Anxiety persists: Scores relating to anxiety and worry due to the pandemic were less favourable, despite Colt’s efforts to support employee wellbeing.
  • Need for improved work–life balance: The open-ended question revealed that people needed more support for remote working and work–life balance.
  • Pride: Another finding from the open-ended question was that Colt employees were proud to work for a company that prioritized both the employee and the customer experience.
  • Return-to-workplace strategy: Employees wanted more information about Colt’s strategy for transitioning employees back to an office environment.

Colt used these findings to evaluate and improve existing plans in a range of areas, as well as to rethink elements of its people strategy going forward. Under the leadership of the EVP of HR, it launched a series of mental health webinars, accelerated the launch of a global employee assistance programme and generally increased its support for employee wellbeing efforts. It is tracking its progress in these areas and will continue to make ongoing improvements.

Colt recognized the COVID-19 crisis as a defining moment for both its leaders and the organization. By fine-tuning its listening strategy in response to the pandemic, Colt was able to stay aware of the evolving needs of its employees and continue to enhance its employee experience. These efforts helped enable Colt to maintain a strong customer focus throughout the crisis and achieve an industry-leading Net Promoter Score of 70.


Senior Director – Talent and Rewards

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