Article by Justine Lambros at Intouch Insight, Posted by Chris Rios
There are many studies to prove the importance of engaged employees, but one benefit is clear: Engaged employees deliver better customer experiences (CX). Research from Forrester shows that customer experience leaders have more engaged employees than CX laggards and are also able to achieve lower operating costs.
In the same way organizations have focused on improving their customer experience, it is now of equal importance for organizations to focus on improving employee experience (EX) to drive employee engagement. Unfortunately, despite all the evidence that supports the importance of engaged employees, most companies haven’t put as much emphasis on defining a Voice of the Employee (VoE) program in the same effort they define Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs.
So how can organizations better incorporate VoE into their CX initiatives to drive better customer experiences? Here are seven ways:
1). Integrate closed-loop processes into employee feedback
Most VoC programs have some form of closed-loop process, which is the ability to identify, action, and respond directly to customer feedback. This lets your customers know you care about their feedback (whether it’s positive or negative) and allows you to rescue unhappy customers. This closed-loop system holds the same value when gathering employee feedback.
Whether you’re just starting to gather employee feedback on a quarterly or annual basis, or are collecting more frequent, targeted feedback to improve specific elements of the employee experience, it’s important to share the insights you gather back with employees about how their feedback is driving change in the organization. Showing employees their feedback made an impact is a great way to empower and motivate people in their daily work.
2). Leverage internal stakeholders for knowledge
Every employee in an organization plays a crucial role in the value chain that links customers to companies and drives their loyalty. Whether it’s frontline employees who are made up of individuals who interact with customers daily, business leaders who run departments and drive an organization’s vision, or another department like accounting whose customers are internal.
When looking for information about employees and how to improve their experiences, you should first look at the information that is already available scattered across the organization. Whether it’s HR, marketing, or another internal department, they may have already gathered valuable information about employees that will help inform your decisions about VoE and VoC strategies.
3). Put CX metrics into perspective
Providing employees with insight into VoC program metrics such as Customer Satisfaction Score, Net Promoter Score or Customer Effort Score, is a fantastic way to engage your employees. This information can help them better understand how their roles impact the business and give them purpose – making them more inclined to deliver better customer experiences. It’s important, however, that when giving your employees insights into these metrics, that you don’t put so much pressure on them to achieve certain scores or use pay-per-performance schemes, that it detracts them from focusing on the actual experience they are providing your customers. This extreme pressure or approach of achieving certain scores for the wrong reasons can cause employees to become “metric obsessed” and undermines key elements of real job satisfaction, which according to Forrester, could be making progress or having a sense of purpose.
VoC programs need the right technology that removes the manual burden from managers and employees of monitoring program metrics but also can provide a greater level of detail that looks at specific emotions such as empathy through a customer service call.
4). Look at employee experience from the bottom up
Most organizations are either not measuring employee experience at all or are not combining VoE data with VoC data. This lack of focus on EX has led a large portion of the workforce to feel disengaged in their roles as they don’t have a clear understanding of how to be customer-focused. In fact, only 31.5% of the U.S workforce consider themselves engaged at work. By collecting and integrating VoE data into business decisions, organizations have a more holistic view of EX and a better understanding of the actions that should be taken to drive better customer experiences.
Many customer experience programs are approached from the top down. Meaning that CX professionals are looking for C-suite buy-in to drive initiatives organization-wide. This can be effective, but organizations need to be less bureaucratic and more fluid to incorporate VoE. Meaning instead of saying to employees, “This is our program does that work for you?” Companies need to ask, “How can we enable you to do your best work and be fulfilled?”
Businesses must reframe the way they think about engagement as a top-down approach and start thinking about employee experience as a whole which is bottom up. This means companies are working to find out what makes a better work environment for their employees, and what they need to succeed.
5). Become a coach, not a supervisor
Engaged employees feel empowered to make decisions without having to seek approval from their manager or fear a consequence if they make a judgment call without permission. For example, if a customer calls in to make a return but they are a few days past the return expiry date. Coaching employees to be on the lookout for these instances and giving them the ability to make a decision that could turn that customers day around by accepting their return, will not only save management time but will result in positive customer experience.
6). Focus on the entire employee experience (EX)
Engaged employees are the result of good employee experience. To engage employees, you must understand how your team experiences you as a company holistically. This means gathering feedback from employees at every point in their journey from onboarding, to training and development, to new responsibilities, and exits. The totality of these experiences is what influences how engaged an employee is with their company. Not only does this express an organization’s interest in their employee’s well-being, but it also provides organizations with the knowledge and insights to make CX decisions about technology and processes with employee experience in mind.
7). Include employee insights into tech decision making
Employees know what does and doesn’t help them build, deliver, and manage customer experiences. So, CX leaders must work in tandem with HR and IT teams to continuously gather this feedback and funnel it into the tech planning process. By soliciting feedback from frontline employees, CX leaders can discover the tools and technologies needed to improve employee- supporting customer touchpoints.
The reality is, just like you need to make VoC the heart of the organization, VoE needs to be the same way. Employee experience is a key driver of employee engagement, and companies with highly engaged employees generate more revenue and deliver better customer experiences.
Driving improvements to employee experience can be done in big and small ways. The important steps to incorporating VoE into your organization is to listen to your employees, focus on their experience holistically, and seek knowledge from internal stakeholders to create an engaged workforce enabled to serve customers.
Corey duBrowa, SVP of global communications at Starbucks says it best, “when we do the right thing for our employees, it’s also the right thing for our business. When employees are satisfied and engaged, the result is deeper customer connections and an elevated customer experience.”
Justine Lambros is the Content Marketing Specialist at Intouch Insight. Justine is an expert on all things customer experience. She leverages Intouch Insight’s 40-year history in the customer experience measurement space to help multi-location businesses in the restaurant, retail, and hotel industries improve their customer experience and operational performance in real-time.
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