An inside look at eBay’s data-driven internal communications [interview]

Hester Gras


From March 23 tBen Matthews from eBay, head of internal and external communicationso 25, the third Internal Communications Conference will be held in London. eBay’s Head of Strategic Communications Ben Matthews is one of the event’s key speakers: “We as communicators need to better speak the language of the business. Using insights in the right way can drive great outcomes for Internal Communications.” imgZine got the opportunity to interview him about his data-driven approach to communications.

You’ve previously mentioned that you don’t use engagement as a metric to gauge your internal communications. Why is this?

“We do have an overall measure of engagement (via a colleague survey). My point is that it’s dangerous to use general engagement surveys in an interpretive manner. They are largely symptomatic, rather than causal. This can lead to incomplete interpretations that fail to tackle problems. Also, why do businesses routinely sample customer metrics on a daily/weekly basis, but when it comes to a key business enabler like employees, only sample them once or twice a year?”

Which metrics help you to improve the outcomes of your internal

Statistieken-Stock“For me, the trick is to have two different types of metrics. At a top level, you need an integrated scorecard of both internal and external measures to track and demonstrate our contribution to business outcomes over time. This needs to remain a consistent set of measures. The second set of metrics relate to campaigns. These metrics can be customized around a base set of measures that I tend to call ‘COMO’:

  • Clear link to business priorities
  • Outputs / out takes / outcomes
  • Measure wide and right
  • Ongoing and comparable

Which IC channels do you have and which ones are the most effective?

“I am a huge believer in ‘simple and often’. Also, technology could depersonalise the experience and cause confusion. That’s why I’ve built a ‘face first’ model, which encourages leaders to have a weekly team meeting. Employees know that they can come and speak to the group about almost anything. So the content becomes self-generating. Technology can then be used to support and complement this. We are in the process of experimenting with social business tools to help build more collaboration and a knowledge sharing culture within the business.”

Internal Communications and the importance of face-to-face meetings

Is there data that you’d like to measure but haven’t been able to thus far?

“Culture is a huge driver of engagement, yet businesses tend to only measure functional or rational engagement. Take the classic question, “would you recommend this business to a friend?” Asking someone a largely hypothetical question in that way is likely to generate an overly positive response as people rationalise their reply. What businesses should be asking is, “have you recommended this business to a friend?” That would generate a much better view as it shows how many colleagues have actioned a perception.”

Which measurements are you going to work on in the future?

Internal communications index“I’ve devised a totally unique approach of measuring culture and I’m now working on a better engagement
approach to partner this measurement. It’s based more around emotional engagement – both emotive and cerebral. I also want to look to trial a happiness index, which would track how happy colleagues are on a weekly basis. The purpose would be to see if changes in overall happiness might act as an early warning to emerging issues.”

Hear Ben Matthews speak about data-driven internal communications at the Internal Communications Conference on March 25, 2015.

BOC: Internal Communications Conference





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