I spent 10 years of my career life managing intranets or information portal (some companies also call them as ebook) for 2 large companies.
In this post, I want to share with you how I started getting involved in intranets and why intranets are indispensable tool that each company, especially a company with large database to be shared across its networks must have.
How it all started for me
I have a degree in Applied Science. Should I follow my career vocation, I would be in labs performing tests or being a chemist.
Due to my family’s financial situation, I started to come out to work during school/ university semester breaks since I was 17 years old. During that time, the only job I could find were part time telemarketeer, lab assistant, clerk or secretary.
One time, I was working in a small IT company where the boss wanted to organize a free talk in the hotel. He handled me a stack of name cards and ask me to contact his clients/business partners to invite them to attend a talk. I even had to source for a hotel.
Another time I helping an owner of a premium gift supply store to manage his office while his PA went on a long marriage leave.
I also worked with Fedex who hired me as a temporary telemarketer to promote a new branch that they wish to open. They were competing with many local courier companies who could offer services at a fraction of their price. But even though they cannot compete in pricing, they could compete in services. There was no leads so I was given a yellow pages of that state and tasked to make cold calls. I had to invite enough prospective customers to attend the opening ceremony of their new branch and sign up new accounts with them.
It was during the time when I was doing those jobs that I realized I love interaction and speaking to people. I did not want to spend my life in a lab dealing with chemicals with minimal interaction. I also realized that I want to be in customer service and not in sales.
Note: From what I have learned about holiday jobs, I have written a set of articles in my Life Blog.
I completed my degree (with much difficulty because I no longer had any interest in the topic). While my friends were looking at job advertisements of chemists or engineers, I only targeted jobs in the customer service industry.
Eventually, the first real job was a customer service officer at quite a well known corporation. A friend helped me to get a phone interview- because the company that time only hire degree holders from overseas. She just asked her boss to give me a chance (I am forever grateful to her for helping me to land in the job).
During the phone interview, her boss was so impressed with me that I was hired. The way she asked questions was very impressive….because if you did not know what you are speaking, she would find you out. The jobs I had during my semester breaks helped me to speak with confidence and experience.
The rest was history and I ended up working with the company for 9.5 years moving from customer service (phone to email) then to managing their intranet and managing the department’s communication to frontliners.
Eventually I did leave the company to take a break and after 2 years, were re-hired by another company (I was hired by one of my ex-bosses who then head the department). I ended up serving the company for another 6.5years.
The pain of having a badly structured or non updated information portal
My bosses all know me as a very customer centric person.
However, often it was very difficult for me to do my job well because most of the time the ebook in my company does not contain the information that I need. So much of the usual information that we need such as updated product information, processes, system codes were not there.
I am not referring those off the beat questions that occasionally customers would ask about. But the essential information that must be updated were all either not there or seriously outdated. Some of my friends got complaints from customers because they provided the wrong information which they got from the outdated portal.
Customers are not going to care about any excuses. It is always the officer or his/her manager who would get into hot soup because they are the ones who represent the organization.
I remembered one time a particular customer was very persistent to know the specification of his gift and the time taken to deliver because none of this were specified in the terms and conditions of the offer which he had signed up. He sent email many times demanding for an answer. Because whatever that is answered in emails are in black and white, we have to be accurate else the misinformation could be used against us.
I was located at a different floor from the custodian in my department who were in charge of getting the info updated. After my calls and email to the team went unanswered….I took the lift down to see the staff personally.
What I saw I would never forget. Basically, the team was sitting at their place gossiping and laughing. I was shocked…. here I am working by butts off and depend on them for help but not only they refuse, but they were so free to gossip and avoided my calls/emails.
I never forget that fateful day how I stood there and promised myself that if one day……if I ever get into that position, I will never make a staff go through what I went through.
Becareful of what you ask for because it may just come true…
Two years later, through a series of circumstances, I ended up in the very position. So I was given a chance to honor the promise that I made to myself.
I spend the next 10 years doing my best to honor the promise serving the people who served the customers (indirectly, serving the customers). I did my best not to subject anyone to go through what I have gone through.
In my watch, I ensured that the product owners covered every single aspect in their promotion to ensure no ambiguity and would not hesitate to hunt down those who provided incomplete or vague information.
During the 10 years, my bosses have offered me promotions to move on to higher position in the organization. I had politely refused their offers because I loved what I am doing and to be hands off directly to serve the customers through serving those who serve the customers. My bosses relented without any bad feelings because they also know that they could not find anyone as dedicated and passionate to replace my position should they promote me.
The companies also realized how important to have a fully functional intranet/information portal/ ebook.