Simon FraserSimon FraserJanuary 23, 2018


Today’s employer is facing a 21st Century personnel challenge, one which was almost non-existent for their predecessors.

Previous generations held the expectation that an individual would build a professional career within one industry by starting at the bottom of the ladder and working their way up.

No longer is this the case. With the millennial generation now fully immersed in the professional world, career roles have simultaneously become transient and permeable, reflecting the globally mobile society enabled by the technology boom over the last two decades. No longer is a one single ladder approach king – employment has become a multi-faceted snakes and ladders game.

With such movement, a key challenge faced by employers will be adapting to this professional mobility and introducing mechanisms to keep up with the expectations of employment in the digital age. Technology is now available to support employee retention and artificial intelligence (AI) can be harnessed to analyse the employee journey of today.

AI and the price of employee turnover

Research has found that an individual is now expected to move roles between ten and 15 times throughout their career, with most under 40 years old moving on after fewer than five years in any one role. With such high turnover, recruiting and training new staff is a costly affair.

Placing emphasis on the employee journey and bringing in new devices to understand your workforce in real-time is, therefore, becoming increasingly important to address the wider trend for professional job hopping.

Vital learnings can be taken from the Customer Experience journey approach, which takes into account a multi-faceted relationship with the consumer across time and numerous events or touchpoints, from face-to-face engagement and service interactions, to electronic surveys and digital personalisation. Emphasis lies on ensuring the customer has access to the brand and is confident their voice will be heard and heeded.

Utilising the assets gleaned from Customer Experience strategies offers employers an opportunity to repurpose learnings and devices to better understand their employees. Looking at Employee Experience through a CX lens will allow businesses to spot trends, implement new processes, as well as monitor and evaluate the impact these changes have on overall satisfaction and retention rates.

Like CX, listening to the voice of the employee is fundamental to understanding what makes them tick, and likewise providing multiple avenues through with they can share their feedback is key. Blending smarter technology with best practices can speed up results and is proven to provide more accurate and successful outcomes.

Proactive action is particularly important when factoring in turnover levels and many employers have a reactive approach, only taking steps when a letter of notice is handed in. This process needs to be reengineered so businesses can stay ahead of the game – considering and responding to an employee’s development and feedback throughout their journey with a company.

High turnover rates are especially prevalent in industries such as retail, food, and hospitality, where hours can be unsocial and the demands high. For these areas in particular, predictive and AI technologies can provide real benefit, determining when an employee’s engagement drops, allowing an employer to use this intel and proactively prevent turnover, which in turn can reduce the costs of replacing human capital.

Even more compelling perhaps, is AI’s ability to find patterns across the entire workforce, surfacing traits, events, and employment conditions and where they converge to produce more productive, happier, and longer-tenured staff. With this intelligence, brands can hire, incentivise, train, and even exit employees in a more proactive and productive way.

Employee retention and the influence of AI

With the turn in the generation tide, employees have developed different expectations about their careers – we now live in society where individuals are more or at least equally concerned about fulfilment as achievement. In fact, research has found that 64 percent of millennials would rather be in a job they love and earn less, than have a six figure salary.

Ninety-two percent of millennials also believe that business success should be measured by more than just profit. This is a real marked shift and one employers need to build into their retention and engagement strategies, through from graduate roles up to the Board of Directors.

Using the latest developments in AI will allow companies to better analyse the points of truth along an employee journey, informing employers about why and when an employee becomes disengaged. This intel can then alert managers so they can take the most effective course of action, and redesign experiences to be more fulfilling.

This technology also has the ability to identify top talent for prioritised intervention. AI allows for a more personalised approach – we’re no longer looking at an A4 paper appraisal form. Similarly to CX strategy, a carbon copy tick-box approach is not the prerequisite anymore, nor can or should it be – any customer of employee strategy needs to develop in symbiosis with the technology available to ensure it is successfully received by today’s consumer.

Getting employees engaged in the CX programme is essential to involving employees beyond just asking about their own job satisfaction. It’s harnessing automated, AI-driven technology to listen, analyse, and distribute intelligence – in an always-on, systematic fashion – to what they have to say about the Customer Experience. Giving them ownership creates a fundamental shift in the way they view and engage in their own jobs, in the success of the brand, and in the relationship with the customer.

Recruiting through AI

By 2020, Gartner has predicted that 2.3 million jobs will be created by AI, whilst eliminating 1.8 million; AI is not only allowing employers to assess their employees but it also impacting the fundamentals of the workplace and the personnel needed. The most heavily impacted areas will be manufacturing, whilst the influence of new technology in healthcare and education will open up new roles.

In tandem with understanding turnover and employee satisfaction, AI can be harnessed within HR to complement recruitment drives. Some of the most attractive places to work for millennials are companies such as Apple, Google, and Disney.

As far as the workspace goes, these businesses are renowned for their high emphasis on employee welfare and are dedicated to building an employee journey which reflects the values of today’s workforce. Companies like these are setting the bar for employers and opening up the recruitment space to be more dynamic and inclusive.

Using tech and AI to search out the right personnel is also at the forefront of their strategies and, through successful implementation, they have developed a stable and highly skilled workforce.

The issue of recruitment is also less focused on a localised approach – the hunt for exceptional personnel has been launched on a global scale and tools such as Skype facilitate this search, bringing the recruiter and prospective employee into closer contact than ever before. Like with CX, the use of AI gives access into new realms of contact with the individual.

AI in recruitment strategies is designed to reduce or remove time-intensive admin tasks such as manually trawling through CVs. Successful use of AI can be implemented to support HR and refine employment drives, with new technology being developed to even predict a potential candidate’s likely performance in a particular role.

The key to truly understanding recruitment, retention and turnover rates in today’s society is harnessing AI across a blended range of listening, analytical and reporting processes. Taking an always-on, systematic approach will help empower the employee and imbibe confidence in the brand ethos. Ultimately, opening up two-way communication through the vehicle of technology will give employees a sense of ownership as co-creators of the Employee Experience.

This in turn will create a fundamental shift in the way employees view and engage in their own jobs, in the success of the brand, and in the relationship with the customer.

Simon FraserSimon FraserNovember 21, 2017


In today’s connected world, managing a customer’s expectation and consistently creating positive experiences has proven to be a challenge for many organisations. 

Part of the challenges in Customer Experience can be attributed to a variance in preferences across different industries and geographies. A recent study conducted by the UK Institute of Customer Service (UKCI) revealed that customer needs for specific types of services vary by industry, country and channel.

Importance of understanding customer differences across sectors

In the modern business context, a healthy Customer Experience initiative is defined by a brand’s commitment to both satisfying customers and motivating strong loyalty. This in turn requires a firm to have a strong understanding of wide-ranging customer expectations.

Today, customers expect excellent experiences from their bank, insurance provider, mobile operator, and even their electricity supplier. However, priorities and expectations of what is considered excellent vary across industries.

For instance, staff competencies are considered particularly important in the banking and insurance industries while speed of resolving complaints, product reliability, and accessibility is a top priority in retail.

However, amidst these varying expectations, there is one shared ideology that prevails – there is no business without customers. Understanding customer expectations is therefore a prerequisite to delivering a superior service which can in turn create brand advocates and prolonged customer loyalty.

In fact, a study by Wunderman found that a staggering 79 percent of customers base their initial purchase intent on how efficiently a brand understands and cares about them. Suffice to say, understanding customer expectations is a crucial ingredient to the success or failure of a business.

Different customer expectations across countries

It is imperative that customer service representatives are aware of the diverse requirements in different countries and cultures. It is especially vital for companies that wish to expand their operations globally. Understanding disparities in customer priorities will invariably help companies identify strengths and opportunities for improvement and differentiation.

These priorities can vary from price, quality, and physical presence of a representative. For instance, customers in Japan have very high expectations of customer service and do not expect to pay for it. Accordingly, service providers in Japanese markets are expected to go out of their way to serve customers and solve problems.

If a customer seeks out phone support in Japan and is dissatisfied with the outcome, the company will more often than not send someone to help them out. This may not always be expected from companies in countries like the UK or US.

Furthermore, a 2014 Global Customer Service Barometer Report by American Express revealed that 78 percent of US customers rate being connected to someone who is knowledgeable as important, whilst only 65 percent of customers in the UK agreed with this. Moreover, a study conducted by New Voice Media found only 25 percent of Americans will hold while on the phone after 10 minutes, compared to 64 percent of Brits, for whom it is a regular occurrence.

Understanding wavering emotions

Existing UKCSI research notes considerable differences in how customers describe emotions associated with positive experiences. The research showed Danish customers, for example, predominantly using the verbatim “they had what I was looking for” while Spanish customers usually stated “I am satisfied with doing what I came to do”.

Respondents were further analysed to understand which emotions they associate with brands to which they feel the most loyal. Most customers across the countries analysed rated “satisfaction” as the most common emotion they associate with brand loyalty.

Around 20 percent of UK customers associated being safe and reassured with brand loyalty, while only 17 percent of US customers agreed with this. ‘Entertained’ was the lowest-ranked emotion overall. However, 11 percent of Finnish customers chose this emotion – nearly twice as many as the nearest customer group from another region. Meanwhile, customers in France and Finland ranked ‘excited’ higher than in other countries.

The research also suggests customers across Europe share many of the same priorities but there are also a number of nuanced priorities by each country. Differences in the way customers score each priority out of ten was also noted. For example, there is less than an average differentiation in the range of priority scores in Poland, with less than one point difference between the highest rated priority – condition of delivered goods – and the lowest – organisation contributes to the national economy.

Communicating using the right channels

Most companies today use multiple channels to interact with customers. This has been made easier with the rapid increase in technology and the advent of social media. However, customers across different industries and countries have varied preferences on how they wish to communicate with service professionals.

For instance, banking customers prefer a complete omni-channel experience with physical branches, online banking, mobile apps, text notifications, and phone calls. However, customer expectations with a healthcare company may not go beyond the ability to contact the company via phone and receive a text with reminders of upcoming appointments.

In the UK, UKCSI research revealed that website use is higher than the European average, although this is not uniformly the case across sectors. Website use is particularly high in telecommunications, media, insurance, and utilities, but is slightly less than average for banking, retail (food), and transport. In the Netherlands, ‘in person’ is used less than the European average, although it is still the most popular channel for interacting with organisations.

Acknowledging preferred personalisation levels

In recent years, personalisation strategies have grown in importance and have seen a significant impact on levels of advocacy and loyalty customers have towards a brand. In fact, customers today do not just expect but demand tailored services that suit personal preferences.

They also want e-commerce sites and in-person sales associates to know who they are and offer relevant assistance. UKCSI’s recent survey recognised this fact, as ‘personalised support’ emerged as a prime priority over purchase and advertising.

The report further indicated that customers in North America and the UK chose personalised support even more often than average at 54 percent and 53 percent, respectively. Moreover, 41 percent of customers in Spain value personalisation during the purchase process highest of all countries, a full six points above the average of 35 percent, while German customers weighted the different types of personalisation most equally.

It is imperative that companies today understand and respond to not just a customer’s buying habits and incomes, but also their emotions and states of mind. Acknowledging these subjective experiences and the role every function plays in shaping them is undoubtedly important in ensuring that customer satisfaction is more than just a slogan but also an attainable goal.

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