Building employee engagement through custom app

Macy’s Star Buzz App builds excitement leading up to a major corporate event.

Challenge

With more than 20,000 executives located throughout Macy’s network of stores, distribution centers, call centers and corporate headquarters, Macy’s needed an effective way to communicate and build engagement throughout its corporate network. They established Our Big Meeting – an internal annual meeting, with Macy’s executive leadership sharing vision and strategy, reviewing accomplishments, and recognizing excellence throughout the organization.

Large groups met in New York and Cincinnati headquarters locations, and smaller groups across the country attended via large screens in movie theaters rented for the occasion. The event was also designed to be interactive, with participants across locations asking questions, while responding to polls and questions in real time. Participants also could share their own photos and comments about Our Big Meeting and their excitement for the upcoming year. Macy’s Corporate Communications needed an effective way for event coordinators to manage communication, registration and participation for this massive meeting.

Services:

User experience planning & user interface design Mobile app design & development Custom application development

Macy’s Star Buzz App builds excitement leading up to a major corporate event.

Services:

User experience planning & user interface design Mobile app design & development Custom application development

Challenge

With more than 20,000 executives located throughout Macy’s network of stores, distribution centers, call centers and corporate headquarters, Macy’s needed an effective way to communicate and build engagement throughout its corporate network. They established Our Big Meeting – an internal annual meeting, with Macy’s executive leadership sharing vision and strategy, reviewing accomplishments, and recognizing excellence throughout the organization.

Large groups met in New York and Cincinnati headquarters locations, and smaller groups across the country attended via large screens in movie theaters rented for the occasion. The event was also designed to be interactive, with participants across locations asking questions, while responding to polls and questions in real time. Participants also could share their own photos and comments about Our Big Meeting and their excitement for the upcoming year. Macy’s Corporate Communications needed an effective way for event coordinators to manage communication, registration and participation for this massive meeting.

Strategy

Sanger & Eby designed and developed the company’s mobile app, Star Buzz. It was used to manage event registration; create a direct feedback channel between attendees and leadership; communicate news to and solicit questions from participants; and build excitement leading up to the event. The app features included interactive polls; a photo upload tool; photo and video galleries; event registration; and push notifications of event news and reminders. While the app was created for Our Big Meeting, it was designed and built to ensure the app could live beyond and provide a communications channel to engage employees on a larger, longer-term scale.

To enable the use of a single code base for both iOS and Android and provide the same functionality on both platforms, we developed the app in Apache Cordova. We utilized the IONIC framework to provide a clean, streamlined user interface that reflected Macy’s corporate brand equity.

The app was designed for Macy’s internal use only so user authentication with appropriate security was a top requirement. We developed a custom integration between the Star Buzz app and Macy’s internal HR portal, ensuring only authorized employees could access and run the app.

Custom web services developed in ASP.NET collect app information including user comments, photo uploads, and registration data in a central SQL database where it could be managed through an easy-to-use administrative console.

An internal marketing strategy generated awareness, driving users to download and install the app, then use it to register for the meeting. Regular communications were pushed to users through the app, including news, announcements, reminders, and interactive polls; users were also encouraged to submit their questions for leadership to answer during the event, which helped the Our Big Meeting team ensure they were addressing priorities for the audience and building a greater connection with deeper engagement.

A “Share Your Selfies” contest on the day of the meeting created a deep sense of camaraderie across the country in multiple locations, helping attendees feel their connection to the larger Macy’s organization. Hundreds of attendees submitted photos of themselves in groups both small and large.

Tech stack

The following languages and platforms were used to bring this project to life:

ASP.Net

.NET MVC

Microsoft SQL Server

HTML5/CSS

Mobile Web Services

Apache Cordova

IONIC Framework

Pushwoosh integration

Google Analytics

Results

App downloads and event registrations outpaced all expectations, and response to interactive polls and the “Share Your Selfies” contest were overwhelming. Attendees engaged on a deeper level and employee engagement rose overall.

The communication and interaction driven through use of the Star Buzz app enabled Macy’s to change the way it operates their annual meeting, reducing costs and streamlining operations while still generating outstanding engagement levels. Additional communications opportunities for using the app are currently being evaluated.

 

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