Facebook’s Workplace is nowadays considered THE enterprise social network by excellence. This is for one simple reason: it has an overwhelming notoriety, on a … worldwide scale. There is therefore a “Workplace reflex” within companies looking for an enterprise social network solution.
However, more and more SMEs are looking for alternatives to Workplace. It is therefore often via a Google search that our clients discover Talkspirit and its strong customer orientation, notably for French SMEs. This testimonial from a talkspirit client is an opportunity to come back to these specificities making talkspirit unique, and so relevant for SMEs (20 to 2,000 employees).
In mid-2018, Madleen TROUVÉ joins GIE Afer – a French association specializing in retirement savings and life insurance since 1976 and a partner of Aviva – as Head of Internal Communication, in a context of profound transformation (especially digital). Determined to set up Workplace by Facebook, which she had successfully deployed at her previous employer, she finally opted for talkspirit and does not regret her choice. Far from it!
She tells us about this experience on the talkspirit blog.
Initially, an Immediate-Reaction Feeling for Workplace
As Madleen joined GIE Afer, the company was undergoing a major transformation: relocation, changing professions and tools, overhauling digital uses. A destabilizing context for the almost 150 employees of the EIG, which needed assistance to the change.
Internal communication therefore had to address 3 major challenges:
- Communicating information/news to employees on a daily basis
- Encouraging employees to express themselves, to give feedback and to report back (which was totally new)
- Creating a transversal link in the company
At that time, the only means of internal communication existing within GIE Afer was still email. Madleen began looking for a tool capable of supporting the cultural and practical change.
She says: “I had just come from a network of entrepreneurs (the Réseau Entreprendre) where we had set up Workplace 2 years earlier, to replace an ‘in-house’ solution that had not been convincing. At the time, Workplace was just starting up in France and was offering the platform free of charge to associations: for us it was a golden plan! We used Workplace as an internal communication tool but also as a project management tool (both to support entrepreneurs and to deploy the new CRM). The benefits were multiple and the users were satisfied with the ease of use of the tool”.
The need for a collaborative tool made itself clear at GIE Afer, so Madleen naturally turned to Workplace.
Facebook Blocked, an Alternative to Workplace Needed
However, Aviva (which by then managed the entire IT part of GIE Afer) blacklisted Facebook (and therefore Workplace) on all employees’ computers. The IT security standards applied in the banking-insurance sector are drastic and do not accept any flaws or data risks. Facebook, like all the major social media players, is therefore very often blocked on contract managers’ workstations. “So we had to find an alternative to Workplace.”
Yammer was considered but required too long a set-up time because it was too dependent on Aviva’s IT environment. “By benchmarking existing solutions, I discovered a French actor in full development: talkspirit. What struck me immediately was the interface: talkspirit was as ergonomic as Workplace, but also adaptable to the company’s colors. A real white label allowing employees to take better ownership of the tool!”
Features: Tie, With a Talkspirit Advantage on the Product Roadmap
In terms of features: talkspirit is quite similar to Workplace. A chat, a videoconference, profile pages and a news feed with posts form the backbone of the platform. The desktop version and the mobile version are quite equivalent, with good ergonomics: whether it is Workplace or talkspirit, teams can easily pick them up.
Product Roadmap and Customer Care: Talkspirit is Favorite
On talkspirit, Madleen notes the impression of using a “living” platform in constant evolution. That’s thanks to regular updates by talkspirit’s technical teams.
“Actually, the customer’s place in the product roadmap is not the same. With talkspirit, I have the feeling that we really have an impact on future decisions to develop the tool. With Workplace, we are quickly confronted with Facebook’s inertia and its own constraints. Specific upgrades are rarely possible, even if they would be necessary for users. As a customer I had little say in the roadmap.” At talkspirit evolutions are discussed ahead of time, tested in beta and adjusted thanks to customer feedback. Developments … the majority of which are the result of suggestions from customers and users!
Read also: 5 advantages of collaborative work
Administrator Experience: Tie
Finally, as an Administrator “I have a preference for talkspirit”: firstly because of the personalized accompaniment during the important phases of the project. For a tool that requires change management, it’s a real distinguishing asset!”
” Also, talkspirit is easier to use: there is no need for specific IT support. As communication manager, I am completely autonomous (for mass imports for example) and in the event of a problem, the account manager helps me so that I don’t get stuck. However, the statistics part of Talkspirit is really behind Workplace.”
Technical Integration: Advantage Goes to Talkspirit
In terms of technical integration into the existing environment, “talkspirit surprised me with its flexibility and ease of administration. There is no need for technical expertise, everything is done very easily, with no need for IT intervention.
On Workplace, contrarily, you can quickly see that everything has been thought out for customers who have an integrated IT department. Mass imports via excel files required a specific level of encoding that was difficult for the uninitiated to overcome. It was quickly necessary to install a link between our CRM and Workplace in order to make account creations and deletions more fluid.”
Technical Support: Advantage Goes to Talkspirit
“In the event of a problem, talkspirit’s technical support is in French, which is appreciable for our employees (some are less comfortable with English) who are autonomous in reporting any incidents. It is also possible to get in touch by chat and get a quick answer. Conversely, the escalation system on Workplace was done through the Administration area, which limited the proximity with the Facebook teams.”
IN SUMMARY, Talkspirit’s Main Strengths:
- Administrator/user support responsiveness
- French-language support
- Regular developments in the features
- Support during the key moments of the ESN project
- Customer listening in managing the product roadmap
- Clarity and predictability of license costs
- Customer events once or twice a year to meet the team, have an insight on the roadmap, and share your own experience with other customers.
According to Madleen TROUVÉ (GIE Afer), “for a medium-sized company, talkspirit is a very interesting platform. Although it is very close to Workplace in terms of functionalities, Talkspirit stands out because of its proximity, both in terms of pre-launch support, the simplicity of technical integration, the responsiveness of support in the event of a problem and the professionalism of the teams. We have the impression that we are moving forward with a real partner who understands our various issues”.