It seems over the last few years all the buzz has been around customer experience (CX) and organizations are in a race to provide new immersive customer experiences to get ahead of the competition. Without a doubt customer experience is important, but what has been the driving focus on experience?
Thanks to forward-thinking organizations like Amazon, Netflix, and Airbnb, getting access to products you need and never knew you needed is easier than ever before. With an abundance of choices and buying options available, experience has now become a primary decision-factor to choose one brand over another brand. In fact, according to Vision Critical by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product quality as the key brand differentiation.
The shift towards experience is also playing an important role in the workplace. Just as customers have a choice where to shop, employees have a choice when it comes to where they work. At the end of the day, you want employees showing up for work because they want to be there, not because they have to be there. When thinking about employee experience, there is a lot to consider. But perhaps a great place to start is by looking at what tactics have successfully worked in the customer experience space.
Let's take a look at 5 customer experience trends you should consider adopting to improve your employee experience:
Simplicity & Ease of Use
Each of these is explored in detail below.
Personalization plays a large role in today's leading customer experiences. By understanding the unique needs of each customer and information about them (demographics, interest, buying history, and intents), organizations can create personalized experiences that are contextual and real-time to help improve the customer experience.
The less personalized an experience is, the more frustrating the experience is for the consumer. Consumers want experiences to be relevant, if you don't own a pool then you have no interest in receiving an email about pool supplies. Personalized experiences can proactively help customers make decisions, like when Netflix makes movie recommendations for you or when your car dealership estimates it's time for an oil changed based on knowing the average number of miles you drive per month.
The same goes for employees, employees don't want to have their attention distracted with information that is not relevant or helpful to getting their specific task and job done.
Let's take a moment and walk through a simple scenario where "personalization" is not used and see what the outcome is.
1.) Employee logins to the corporate application portal, searches for new software.
2.) Employee is presented with multiple options related to operating systems and processor sizes. Employee chooses the option for Windows 32bit (forgetting that his new computer is 64bit).
3.) Employee downloads software, then proceeds to open up the application but receives an error message.
4.) The error message is vague and not intuitive to the root of the problem.
5.) The employee proceeds to goes to the IT support portal and tries to review knowledge-based articles to self-solve the problem.
6.) After multiple searches, the employee gives up his/her search.
7.) Employee proceeds by submitting a support ticket.
8.) A help-desk representative phones the employee to conduct a standard diagnosis, asking a series of questions which last approximately 10 minutes before determining that the employee downloaded the wrong version of the software (32bit vs 64bit).
9.) The employee now has to uninstall the software, go back to the software portal, find the correct version, and restart the install process.
All of this could have been easily avoided if the employee was given only relevant options based on what the employer knows about the employee (device they are using, operating system, etc.). As employers, we have access to a range of data about employees from their location, job function, devices, reading behavior, learning preferences, and more. By leveraging this data, we have the opportunity to create personalized experiences for employees that are contextual to simplify processes, reduce friction points, and increase engagement.
Customers love self-service. From scheduling appointments and deliveries without human interaction, to self-checkout and ordering pizza via a mobile app.
Do you remember the days before mobile banking? Banking customers struggled to find the time or ability to make it to the bank during banking hours. This was because banks catered to their own operational needs, not the needs of their customers.
Once smartphones became mainstream, banks jumped to action to offer self-service options not letting strong validation and security factors become a barrier. Yet, many employees still can't perform simple actions on their mobile phone such as uploading a receipt to submit an expense report or access important employee information.
Next came self-service chatbots, providing consumers extended support hours and immediate answers to frequently asked questions around-the-clock. Furthermore, some chatbots offer the ability to automate and perform task on behalf of the customer (e.g., file returns, cancel orders, modify orders, submit claims, etc.).
By leveraging the power of self-service options, organizations can streamline knowledge management and make it easier for employees to find the information they need.
Today, if your website or retail store isn't easy to shop, browse, and find information on your products and services, it's likely your business is hurting.
Search and user design (UX) play a large role in the customer experience. Top websites and retail stores are designed to eliminate likely roadblocks or friction points that would prevent customers from purchasing.
It's no surprise, Amazon is probably the best example in this case, allowing customers to search, find, compare, and purchase products within seconds. Furthermore, customers have the ability to obtain all the information they need to help with their decision process (FAQ, dimensions, reviews, etc.) from a single location.
Now think about the type of experiences and number of steps your employees face at work just to complete nominal task such as booking a day off, submitting an expense report, getting IT request resolved, and so on. In the consumer world, you'd never book an appointment with a business if it took multiple online systems or multiple phone calls to request the service, so why do we continue to basically pay employees to waste time, spending time on things that are not value-add to their jobs?
Consumers expect to be able to interact with their favorite brands on any channel, at any time of day. They expect their interactions to be seamless from in store, to online and even across conversational interfaces such as chatbot support. Before instantaneous communication, there used to be a fine line between work and our personal lives, but now with these lines blurring it's even more so that employees too want the same level of omni-channel experiences.
Today's employees are on the go and no longer tied to a physical office space, desktop computer, or desk phone to accomplish their job. Employees want to be able to choose the channel and location they work from during times that suits their work day, whether it be in the office, on the road, or in a coffee shop between customer meetings. This goes well beyond BYOD and offering employees access to their email while on the go. The flexibility of being able to access important information outside of email can offer employees greater satisfaction, being able to accomplish their work while not giving up things that are important to them in their personal lives.
Organizations that fail to empower employees with omni-channel experiences will run the risk of being out-competed and fail to keep up with the demands of their customers.
Most of what has been discussed here so far is technology-driven, but non-technology tactics play an important role in both the customer and employee experience, especially culture!
A strong sense of purpose is good for business. When a company is born from a purpose, consumers who share the same values will choose that company's products and services over another company because they feel an emotional connection to that company. It also makes customers feel they are part of something larger than just buying the product.
For instance, take reusable straws in replace of plastic straws, the consumer feels with every reusable straw purchase they are making a contribution towards keeping our environment clean and protecting ocean life for future generations.
Sounds a lot like what we should be doing at the employee level doesn't it? Employees want more than just a job, they want a sense of belonging and purpose. Employees want to understand their connection to the company; how their work contributes to the organization's mission and how their contributions impact business results.
Employees are people and as people we have emotions and psychological needs at work and these emotions shape attitudes and perceptions that drive feelings of engagement or disengagement.
A healthy corporate culture values each employee in the organization regardless of their job duties and shows the employee how they are working as a team to meet both the company and their own personal needs. Your culture can make or break employee engagement, employees who are disengaged don't usually stay long or if they choose to stay it's only to earn a paycheck not to deliver on the organizations' mission.
This list is not exclusive, there are many more elements that make for great employee experiences. Overall though, the key to a great employee experience should focus around providing employees an environment where they can do their best work, have access to the right technology to make their job easy, be part of a culture where they feel valued, and overall an environment people want to be part of everyday, not because they have to.
Whatever initiatives you choose to start with, consider using input from employees throughout the design process. Whether it be employee councils, focus groups, surveys, advisory boards, etc., employees are at the center of the employee experience and should be the source of ideas, help validate proof of concepts, and evangelists throughout.