The Next Step In Customer Experience Is About Your Employees

The Next Step In Customer Experience Is About Your Employees

Much like the theory of evolution, businesses must adapt or become extinct. In this opinion piece, Phil Durand, director customer experience management, at Confirmit talks about the next evolution of customer experience- your employees.

Sue Lappeman
Posted by Sue Lappeman

While many organisations now acknowledge the importance of customer experience and employee engagement programs it is a rare creature that has evolved them into one, harmoniously aligned package. Usually, these programs sit in different parts of the organisation and never the twain shall meet.

Phil Durand (002)

Phil Durand

But the future development of Voice of the Customer (VoC) will depend on its seamless integration with Voice of the Employee (VoE), a convergence of two separate programs which will help organisations make a giant leap to the next level in customer experience.

The first steps

The first stage in the evolutionary process was the move from VoC research to a true business tool.

This has involved lots of changes including, critically, the move away from infrequent, ridiculously long surveys asking the same question five different ways, to short, sharp relevant opportunities to give feedback when it’s convenient for the customer.

That data can now be presented back to the business – not in a 50-page Death by PowerPoint presentation but in a format that allows people to use it.

But when it comes to VoE, many organisations have taken longer to evolve from a once a year (or longer) survey process, which is often followed by three months of analysis, three months of arguing about the results and then confusion about what to do with them.

VoE programs now provide a wide range of other methods to capture employee feedback that can be accessed and acted upon in real-time.

Interestingly, some of the misconceptions of employee engagement programs are the same as for customer engagement:

  • The more data the better
  • The goal is to improve score
  • Benchmark to understand against norms
  • Mere act of using data is strategic
  • Survey tells us what to do next

The truth is:

  • It’s not about more data, it’s about the right data to make a positive change
  • We are not chasing scores, but an engaged and productive workforce
  • Benchmarking is fine if you say it quickly, but your comparisons need to be meaningful
  • Using data should go further than the strategic bunker, why not give everyone that power?
  • A survey does not tell you what to do next, the employee does. So are you listening properly?

Taking control

VoC would often get lost in the marketing department but we are seeing it more and more moving into other silos. This is already an evolution.

The next stage is the move away from CX sitting within a specific function and a move towards the CCO – Chief Customer Officer.

Ten per cent of Fortune 100 companies have already adopted the role of CCO with 22 per cent in the Fortune 100.

With employee engagement, historically the ownership was seen to belong with the HR department.

This meant some people saw it as nothing to do with them which couldn’t be further from the truth as ongoing research has revealed.

According to Gallup, there is a worldwide employee engagement crisis with serious and potentially lasting repercussions for the global economy.

Worlwide, only 13 per cent of employees report being involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.

Compared to the rest of the world, the figure for Australia is not so bad with 24 per cent engaged.

But that still leaves 60 per cent of employees in Australia feeling not engaged and a worrying 16 per cent actively disengaged.

Imagine the impact on your business if those numbers were turned around – lower staff turnover, reduced recruitment costs, improved efficiencies and, let’s be frank, happier customers.

The view from the other side

So to drive improvement we must look at our businesses from another perspective, that of our people, our employees.

A 2012 employee engagement taskforce study, ‘Nailing the Evidence’  found there was a firm correlation between employee engagement and high organisational productivity and performance, across all sectors of the economy.

Companies in the top quartile of engagement had:

  • 40 per cent lower turnover
  • 12 per cent higher advocacy
  • 18 per cent higher productivity

In the good old days, and probably still quite a lot today, we would run a client or customer survey maybe once or twice a year and then do the same for employees.

In each case, we’d then follow up with management and try to feed the findings into strategic process improvements.

Most often there would be no day-to-day tactical changes made by the front-line.

This was all about upper and middle management.

Customer and employee feedback was usually kept separate, sometimes deliberately.

In the new world of multi-channel commerce, this way of doing things is too fragmented and complex.

Now there are more transactional surveys of not just customers but also employees, asking them what they think of the customer experience they deliver.

All these sources can be brought together for a more integrated approach to how the analysis is used and what is included: everything from customer relations and social media through to CRM, HR and operational data.

The secret is to find a way to integrate this data across those silos, analysing and finding meaning from the comprehensive, real-time view it creates.

Coming together

Firstly, it is very important to have the right technology to underpin a successfully automated VoC program, particularly in a large organisation.

You must be able to ‘listen’ across every channel, geographical locations and every single touchpoint.

Feedback needs to be captured in a way that makes the most sense to your business and to your customers.

All that data must then be integrated with other sources of information that are key to a strong analysis, such as financial and HR data or other business system information.

Obviously, the purpose is to drive action at every level throughout the organisation.

The beauty of the technology is that we can automate the process of sharing knowledge and insight to different stakeholders across the organisation in a format that makes sense to them and helps them to understand what they need to do to address problems.

A successful VoC program links to an organisation’s priorities to positively impact its business by:

  • Driving up revenue – improving new customer acquisition, reducing customer churn and supporting cross-selling opportunities
  • Helping with process improvements and compliance that drive down operational costs
  • And, fundamentally underpinning both of these areas, a VoC program can improve your company’s culture by focusing on customer centricity and cross-functional change/collaboration

Involve and evolve

So how do we accelerate the process of bringing together these platforms together and developing a joint program?

As we have already seen, engaged individuals drive more profitable companies because employee engagement and customer advocacy tend to go hand in hand.

So seek the customer experience from an employee perspective.

Ask your team: What do you think customers would say about your service?

The results are often fascinating.

You either see complete alignment, which is great because it adds a layer of confidence to your data with everyone seeing it the same way inside and out.

Or you see divergence either because ‘we’re not as bad as we think we are’ which is good or ‘we’ve totally misjudged how good we are’ which is bad.

Nuances in either of these, for example, seeing things worse inside a company, could be a good early warning of things the customer might say soon.

This can and should be a collaborative effort where those closest to the customer (front line) and those closest to the boardroom get to work together.

It creates ownership and engagement.

Used to its potential, it can become your organisation’s navigational system – revealing opportunities for improvement and innovation and becoming a strategic tool to ensure every interaction with the customer is as positive as it can be.