Workplace journeys: Delta Air Lines

Charisse Evans, VP of Customer Experience Integration at Delta Air Lines, joined us at Flow 2018 to explain why “Going rogue” helped make Workplace a soaring success.


Delta Air Lines urges its passengers to keep climbing. But as an employer, what Delta really wanted was to start connecting. “We have over 80,000 employees spread around the world,” explained Charisse Evans, Delta's VP of Customer Experience Integration, when she joined us on stage at Flow. “How do we help all of them feel connected and have the same access to information, whether they're in Shanghai, Mumbai, or Mobile, Alabama?”

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Just to make matters even more difficult, around 70% of Delta's workforce is not attached to a computer. They are the frontline workers flying or fixing the aircraft, serving passengers, taking bookings, driving tugs. The ones who've been beyond the reach of corporate IT. Until now.

When Delta turned to Workplace in 2017 it had two big goals. “We wanted to create a more intimate community where we could communicate and share information in real time,” says Charisse. “But we also needed to meet our employees where they are – and they're already using social media tools. There were quite a few closed Facebook groups out there where employees were talking about the Delta brand, with a lot of misinformation being communicated. So we thought, “Why not use these tools to our advantage?”

"We needed to meet our employees where they are – and they are already using social media.”

"We needed to meet our employees where they are – and they are already using social media.”

- Charisse Evans, VP Customer Experience Integration, Delta Air Lines

Charisse wanted a leadership role in the deployment. But she ended up going even further, admitting to the audience that she “Kind of went rogue” when Workplace was first introduced.

The original plan was to roll it out group by group, keeping a close eye on adoption, productivity, and engagement before making it available to the entire company. But Charisse, who was leading reservation sales and customer care, didn't need any more convincing. “Our frontline employees are spread across eight different engagement centres around the world. I felt this was a tool that could really help them get connected much faster. So I saw the value in it maybe quicker than some of the other leaders,” she confesses.

In “The dark of the night”, Charisse flipped the switch for her entire business unit. “We were able to provide examples of how it could be used. How it doesn't negatively impact productivity, and how it actually has been able to enhance productivity and communication.” Very quickly, the rest of Delta's senior team came aboard.

Today, Workplace is firmly embedded in the way Delta works. Charisse points to the number of Delta employees in small teams, or on their own, across 320 destinations in 57 countries. “Before,” she says, “If you had questions about a new policy or initiative, you would have to send an email, wait for someone to respond or for the memo to come out. Now you can just post a question in a group and get pretty much a real-time answer. Not just from another colleague but from a leader – because many of our leaders are now engaged on Workplace.”

“Workplace has been a great way for us to provide motivation for people all over the world.”

“Workplace has been a great way for us to provide motivation for people all over the world.”

That's the business impact, what about culture? Charisse's team uses Workplace to surface new customer experience initiatives and stories. So employees in remote locations, who previously had no way of sharing their successes, are now able to get in front of the entire company. As Charisse explains: “That individual gets immediate recognition from their peers as well as from their leaders. It has been a great way for us to provide motivation for people all over the world.”

But the biggest benefit has come from Live video. “We’ve used it quite a bit and the response has been phenomenal,” Charisse says. “When we go live, our CEO can suddenly be in all places at all times.” That creates the connections that build the community.

“People feel like they are now connected whereas before they felt like they were out there on their own.” It is also changing the style of leadership. With Live, we are in a world where we are unscripted. People see that and they see us as being human. We are very real to them."

The future for Delta will see Workplace even more tightly integrated into everyday processes. That might be through bots to automate responses to common questions, or continuing to look at Live as a way to make conferences, seminars, and meetings more efficient and productive. It's all a long way from going rogue in the dark of the night.

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