DIP Corporation provides DX services and human resource services, such as Baitoru, and has continued to perform well and increase its customer base even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
DIP was one of the earliest companies to adopt the unique toolsets offered through mobile phone technology and smartphones, operating with a forward-thinking mindset embodied by its motto “Tap into dreams, ideas and passion to create a better society” as it moves towards more comprehensive digitalization. However, one of the problems presented as a result of its improved performance and expansion has been how to ensure the efficiency and capacity to deal with the issues of information-sharing and communications on a company-wide level. According to Kei Shinto, Head of Next-Generation Business Development Division at DIP and the person who spearheaded the introduction of Slack, 70% of DIP’s employees are sales reps who work out in the field and whose primary modes of communication with their clients before the introduction Slack were by telephone, email and face-to-face meetings.
“Telephones are useful for when you want to have a direct conversation with someone, but as they are a verbal means of communication, there is the problem that what is said is not recorded. Also, while there is obviously a record of what is said in an email, it is a slow form of communication and the information in them is only visible to the people that the email was sent to. So, what we ideally wanted was a way to have all internal communications done through a messaging tool that was somewhere between telephone and email. However, in our company, there is no single set of rules regarding how to use tools for different purposes, and on top of that, the types of tools we use differ in each department. There were also concerns about a reduction in efficiency from an administrative perspective and about potential security risks.”
While the company was thinking about how to tackle these various issues, the situation regarding the Covid-19 pandemic became more serious and the company decided to establish a company-wide system of remote working for its employees. “In order for us to facilitate communication and the sharing of information between teams, companies and our clients, we had to make a decision on which communication tools to use. And it had to be the right decision,” explained Shinto.
The company’s aim was to build an online office. After considering all possible solutions, the tool that DIP chose was Slack. And in doing this, it made Slack the foundation on which all company communications would be performed, placing it at the very heart of the business.
“With 90% of our employees working from home, the only option from the perspective of having everybody work in an online office environment was Slack.”
Surprising Quantitative and Qualitative Research Results 3 Months After Company-Wide Introduction of Slack
After making the decision to go ahead with its introduction, all employees at DIP had begun using Slack by November 2020. The impact of its introduction was apparent almost right away. During the first month, over 90% of DIP employees became active users of Slack, and, after three months, the number of internal company emails had reduced by 8 million. According to Midori Nishino, Leader of the DIP Robotics PdM Section in the Next-Generation Business Development Division, the department responsible for pushing the uptake and continued use of Slack within DIP, “the number of meetings we’d held had reduced by as much as 1500.” The results of an internal company survey revealed that 97% of employees said their work and communications had become more efficient, 88.2% said their work speed had increased, and 79.4% said their work output had increased.
Results of Internal Company Survey into Uptake and Continued Use of Slack 3 Months After its Introduction
A lot of companies struggle to introduce and maintain the use of communication tools. What efforts at DIP have specifically borne fruit in this regard?
One of the reasons that uptake and on-going use has happened so quickly was the reassurance offered by Nishino about how easy Slack is to use.
“The really slick UI (user interface) and the fact that it can be used by pretty much anybody were a couple of the reasons why the company decided to go with Slack, and ultimately were factors behind why it was so well adopted. The super cute emojis have also proved popular and help create a fun atmosphere even when working remotely. When we compared Slack with products from other companies, Slack won out over all else when it came to UI and compatibility with our systems.”
DIP has been taking full advantage of the unique characteristics of Slack, including its ability to be easily integrated into a wide range of external systems through API, as it looks to find ways to evolve its operations. For example, in order to help lessen the hassle of data entry regarding the clock-in and health status registration systems introduced as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, an app was developed that allows batch registrations in Slack. Also, by linking in with the internally developed CRM system, notifications are now also made in Slack, allowing for real-time instructions and communication that are superior to those offered by email. The company is also making use of Slack Connect as a means to allow secure communications with external organizations via Slack, with more than 250 channels already being operated in external shared workspaces. It seems that building this sort of system that makes use of Slack’s ease of integration and expandability has also played a big part in the success of its introduction.
“Consolidating various operations such as the clock-in system into Slack has resulted in a ‘single tool hub’ and a virtuous cycle by which our sales departments can better focus on their sales activities.”
Slack Utilization Takes Rapid Hold with Twin-Wheeled Bottom-Up and Top-Down Approach
There has been great enthusiasm within DIP for further integration of Slack owing to the fact that the pre-Slack operating environment was packed full of a high number of disparate communications methods, resulting in a highly confusing situation.
At DIP, it is the COO who assumes the final responsibility when it comes to finding ways to utilize Slack to realize a transformation of the company’s business practices, but it is the corporate officers heading up the various sales departments who are responsible for ensuring the early establishment of Slack in their respective departments. However, at the same time, employees with expertise in specific areas have also been granted ambassador status and it is their role to support others in how to use Slack, whether it be through education sessions or the sharing of information. According to Kei Shinto, this twin-wheeled approach of top-down endorsement and bottom-up support was crucial in establishing Slack in the sales department.
“The corporate officer of a specific sales department used a Slack channel to develop a knowledge-sharing system called the ‘Bag of Sales Wisdom’ through which employees of all levels could exchange sales success stories and know-how, and which all company sales reps could refer to and ask questions. This gave all employees a means to share their sales knowledge and methods to others outside of their own team and a means to collaborate on sales activities. It really got all the sales reps on board with Slack.”
Another corporate officer made it an internal rule that meeting agendas would be uploaded to Slack before said meetings took place. This not only increased usage of Slack, but also meant that it was possible to have deeper discussions in a shorter time during the meetings themselves, helping ensure focus and keeping them shorter.
“In addition to helping us streamline our daily sales activities, Slack’s channel structure and search capabilities proved extremely useful as a knowledge base for the training and onboarding of new employees.”
DIP’s “Always Connected” Sales Style; Enabled by Slack
As noted above, Slack took hold quickly at DIP and is used to great effect by all employees at the company; but it is the sales departments who seem to be enjoying the upturn in efficiency the most.
Of particular note is the way in which DIP’s employees use Slack for client negotiations as well as the company’s unique approach of being a business that is “always connected,” an approach that allows them to build relationships with clients so that they are always available for communication in a way that bridges the gap between email and phone. “Light interactions are now much quicker, making it easier than ever before to contact clients, and the flexibility offered by being able to have clients join online meetings from Slack when there is a need for a deeper discussion about something has really allowed us to treat our clients with great care, even if asynchronous. It is clear how well it fits with the client-oriented approach favored by DIP and how it is driving a change from the old traditional style of doing sales to a completely new way of working,” explains Shinto.
While tools cannot change the culture of an organization, it would seem that using high quality ones such as Slack can enhance a company’s innate strengths, positive culture and the individual capabilities of its employees, inspiring new approaches.
“For example, using Slack to establish a state of remote connection with your superiors while also hosting business meetings with clients means that we can essentially obtain direct approval from our superiors over Slack when we are in these meetings and in situations demanding a real-time response such as a request from the client for a discount. Of course, it is possible to obtain approval over the phone, but the ability to get on-the-spot advice when it comes to unpredictable requests from clients is really invaluable for employees who perhaps have less sales experience.”
Previously at DIP, there used to be a culture in which sales reps would encourage each other over email, etc., but Slack has enabled much more open exchanges and even greater activity in this respect. By using the Bag of Sales Wisdom channel, sales reps are able to post and share across teams their issues regarding making sales and their experiences at other companies. The result of all this is that, since the introduction of Slack, there are departments within DIP that have achieved their highest ever monthly sales.
Although nobody knows for sure what the future entails with regard to Covid-19, there is no doubt that DIP is a company with a sales style and culture that has adapted itself extremely well to the online environment and will continue to offer its excellent services to job-seekers and recruiters looking for new opportunities.
“When it comes to the ability to respond in real-time and in terms of speed, Slack enables communication with clients that is equal to that experienced in direct face-to-face meetings out in the field. Despite having to work remotely, we are in the process of creating a sales style that is unmatched anywhere else.”