For years and years now, since inception of the Employee Engagement idea, a lot of companies have been struggling to maximise employee engagement – mainly for financial reasons, or for being hopefully perceived as an amazingly great place to work: this making it easier to attract high-calibre/top talent candidates.
FYI: There is no proof that Employee Engagement improves productivity – at least in 2017 we still have no strong case studies proving this to be true.
If you agree that your company, or even any other organisation, would not exist without customers (the customers of an NGO/Non-profit are its beneficiaries), then it is logical to expect that the best results in your Customers’ Experience can only be achieved if – and only if – Customer Experience (CX) becomes the context/the ‘meat & potatoes’ for every possible type of Employee Engagement. It should not be strictly reserved for customer-facing employees! And obviously, here is where HR could help.
8 Ways HR can help with improving your Customer Experience (CX)
#1. Cross-functional/cross-disciplinary collaboration
Your Customer/Beneficiary will always see your organisation as ‘one’ and not as a collection of business and functional units, or any other forms of Silos. Let me give you a few examples: you might have the best possible Customer Service and interaction in every channel and touchpoint with your Customers, but they will still be repelled/turned-off if you employ poor billing; or your distribution/shipment practices leave a huge space for improvement (does this sound familiar? Our personal experiences with online Ghanaian sellers are not positive yet); and the same if any of your physical Customer-visited areas reflect poor hygiene.
We always assume that cross-functional collaboration is a given reality, and that all teams talk to each other when needed and work happily together; nothing could be further for the truth. Here you need a good (if not excellent) HR team that has created an Organisation(al) Design on solid grounds, and is also continuously active in finding ways to champion and really promote in practice true cross-functional collaboration.
Tip #1: Stop assuming that teams know how to collaborate across departments, please!
FYI: Customer-pain usually results from communication gaps and/or weak handovers between functional areas.
#2. Make your Employee Induction a Customer-centric process
All your new employees need to understand both your business(processes) and who your customers are; and how they can serve them better.
FYI / A simple example: At Disney Amusement Parks and other Hospitality services, the new employees are clearly told from Day-1 that they “need to treat a customer the same way they would treat a guest in their own home”.
#3. Remove the ‘Thorn-Employee’
You can’t avoid the reality of unhappy and disgruntled employees. HR can help you reduce the risk by removing (not necessarily firing, unless there is a valid grave reason) the relevant employee from that particular contact touchpoint or channel with the Customers. If needed, perform active high-impact Damage Control.
#4. Have Emotionally Intelligent (EI) Employees
FYI: L’Oréal has seen increased profitability as a direct result of EI training programmes delivered to its front-line customer-facing employees.
Do you even want to have employees with no customer-compassion? Maybe you should consider training all your staff in Emotional Intelligence; yes, it is not the norm – but there is always a time when we need to employ new ideas. There are plenty of case studies on the Internet.
#5 Imbed Customer Experience in your Organisation Design
Please omit that notion of “customer-facing” employees! Customer Experience Service Standards are needed for all employees, regardless of their job-title or organisational/seniority level.
#6. Improve Employees’ Customer Experience Skills
Yes, this is obvious – but if everybody was doing this, Customers would not be running to their competitors. Don’t blame untrained employees, and also do not send them to generic training courses and expect results specific to your organisation/environment.
Simply put, CX starts with every employee trained and engaged with it!
#7. Is your Employee Social Media Policy CX-centric?
In 2017 you can’t afford to ignore Social Media; nor you can afford accidental damage to your Brand by your employees. You should have a clear and well-communicated Social Media Policy for all your employees – and you should also provide relevant training.
Empower all your CX-properly-trained employees to participate in Social Media with your customers.
FYI: Adobe, IBM, Intel, and several other companies have been doing this for years.
My advice on this – is to watch for all employees who do not participate in Social Media. If they are so happy and excited to work in your company, why don’t they then share their enthusiasm with your clients? Please use ‘this’ as a diagnostic tool to spot unhappy employees and help resolve the issues, and not as a punishment mechanism for their lack of Social Media participation.
#8. CXify your organisation
HR should make sure that the Customer Experience element becomes an integral part of every aspect of your organisation and its culture. From having the Customer Experience element in every job-description/every job advertisement, to having it in its planned training offerings for every employee – even to having it in every Employee-KPI Setup and Performance Evaluation.
Would you really want to promote people who do not make any contribution to your Customer Experience? Do you even want to pay bonuses to those employees?
Make sure that ‘everything’ (processes, procedures, methodologies, tools) and everyone in your Organisation Design, Structures and Frameworks ‘breathes’ CX in and out!
CX and HR: A 2-way Street
Think about it: Your best ideas for employee engagement and training originate with customer feedback.
Maybe it is time that your HR integrates with all possible Customer Service and Customer Operations teams (e.g. Customer Delivery – even if you make pizza; Customer Support Lines, etc). Have your HR walk and talk to the people on the floor doing the ‘work’, understand their challenges, make sure that their concerns are addressed, and their knowledge is communicated to the rest of the company (does your organisation need a Knowledge Base? Do you need to offer new trainings?).
HR should not be an isolated kingdom – go out there, talk to all employees and get to know their ‘pulse’; listen, observe, advise. Otherwise, how will you add value in creating CX policies and in disseminating knowledge/experiences from the customers back to the whole organisation?
Customer Service and Marketing Departments tend to do all sorts of Customer Satisfaction and Happiness Surveys. Unfortunately, survey insights do not permeate back inside the whole company; nor do they get captured in any sort of a knowledge base. Also, Customer Surveys are only valuable if your people act on them.
And for employee-rating surveys, focus your employee-performance metrics more on their CX-enabling behaviours and less on survey ratings…just a suggestion.
Btw, when is the last time that you or your Customer-Interfacing employees got engaged directly with a customer and ask that customer for their regular personalised feedback on the employee’s ability to satisfy that customer?
“Customer Experience is broadly affected by the entire company: its culture, internal handoffs, attitudes, decisions, processes, policies, and actions. Knowledge management, employee engagement, and cross-functional collaboration can be facilitated by HR to achieve greater connectedness, consistency and synergy both internally and externally.”
It is HR that creates the context and mindset within your organisation/business that will ultimately lead to a great Customer Experience. And, of course, it is your HR or your partner Recruitment Agency that recruits your employees who will contribute to and reinforce this mindset.
Finally, think of aligning your organisation to its customers instead of insisting that your customers align to your organisation. How does or can your organisational structure(s) best-serve your customers?
Thank you and Good Luck,
About the Author: Irene Gloria Addison is the owner of HIREghana [Human Intelligence Recruitment], a niche HRM & Organisational Development Consultancy and a Leader Ghanaian Recruitment Agency based in Accra.
Irene welcomes your feedback/ comments/ remarks/ suggestions via your email message to Press [at] HIREgh.com. HIREghana can be reached at +233 50 228 5155 or +233 266 555 907
Our website is http://www.hiregh.com
© 2017 Irene Gloria Addison and © 2017 Human Intelligence Recruitment