As studies have indicated time and time again, employee engagement and a successful and differentiated customer experience are intimately connected.
A recent study conducted by Gartner, showed employee engagement surfaced as a major concern in delivering improvements in customer experience (CX), with 86% of CX executives surveyed ranking it as having an equal or greater impact than other factors such as project management and data skills.
But how exactly can businesses improve employee engagement and in turn, improve the customer experience? Is it as simple as implementing employee perks like always-full snack cupboards, company games rooms, or an open policy on bringing pet dogs to work? The answer is no.
Knowing they are valued
To differentiate themselves as great places to work, companies are thinking further outside the box than ever before. Employee perks are being stretched to new boundaries, such as unlimited annual leave and flexible working arrangements.
While initiatives like this matter immensely in the employee engagement formula, years of research and working with some of the world’s leading brands has resulted in the idea that there is absolutely no substitute for making sure people know they are valued.
The importance of valuing employees stems from trust, respect, and being asked for input or opinions on important issues regarding the business.
A great place to start is asking for their honest insights on how to deliver a better customer experience (as well as what’s preventing them from doing so). After all, employees occupy a unique place between a business and its customers. As such, they can hear a customer complaint (or compliment) and map it to specific root-cause processes, policies and campaigns.
Voice of the employee
Customer experience (CX) is more than a soup de jour. It’s a data-backed way to outpace your competitors. The employee’s perspective on improving the brand’s delivery of customer experience, known as Voice of the Employee (VoE), empowers employees to take ownership of CX outcomes.
When employees are approached for their advice on improving CX (at established touchpoints and intervals, through ad hoc invites and ‘always-open’ portals) and then act on that advice, they know they’re trusted, respected, and valued. They know this because the employer has included them as part of the solution.
While the traditional mentality focused on creating the right working environment for employees, this new model takes a collaborative approach to problem solving and innovation, asking “what can we do together…and how?” It moves away from asking employees if they feel valued to ensuring value is manifest through action. It’s about getting to a point where employers know and do not have to ask. It’s not just one-time feedback; it’s the beginning of an ongoing conversation.
Tech is key
With technology, what was once a complicated, siloed, and often an ineffective web of processes can now be streamlined and expedited. Sophisticated listening tools now allow companies to systematically collect and run complex analyses on both customer and employee feedback, surfacing correlations and trends, and identifying both failures and successes.
Tech can even automate some tasks for employees: prioritising cases, routing customers to the places and people where they can get the right answers and serving up content personalised to their preferences. Automated systems can also arm front line staff with in-the-moment intelligence, empowering them to have the most effective interactions possible. And with processes like Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) built into some of the more innovative solutions, these systems get smarter and even more effective over time. In essence, technology is a value-building tool that empowers employees to be the greatest CX advocates.
The result: Employees are providing more value to customers and the brand, and they are more successful in their roles. In other words, employers are helping them be (not just feel) more valuable.
While a number of aspects factor into employee engagement, VoE goes beyond salary, benefits, and foosball tables. It provides employees with a permanent seat at the decision-making table. By making employees part of the solution, companies are rewarded with not only a passionate, empowered workforce but also new ideas and insights even their customers can’t provide.
By Dr. Paul Warner is the Vice President – Customer and Employee Experience Strategy at InMoment, a cloud-based customer experience (CX) intelligence platform, arming brands with compelling customer insights to drive high-value business decisions and relationships with both customers and employees. For more information, visit www.inmoment.com