The customer engagement firm Rant & Rave’s conference, Raveolution 2017, gave one of London’s most iconic music venues, Electric Brixton, a carnival twist this year when it took place in November.  

Following in the same vein as previous Raveolutions, attendees were encouraged to wave goodbye to the world of straight-laced corporate conferences and network in an atmosphere that allows for individuality to shine.

This year’s event brought together some of the industry’s top thought leaders all united by a passion to share best practice in the world of Customer Experience (CX). The key theme for all guest speakers’ presentations focused on the intersection between employee engagement and CX, and the transformative impact it can have on an organisation.

CX measurement

Chief Revenue Officer, Phil Evans, kicked off proceedings with a look at the trends that are currently changing the CX measurement landscape. He set out by painting a picture of today’s empowered consumers rejecting traditional surveys in this ‘Age of Emotion’.

Surveys are designed for the company and not the customer. Customers want to tell a brand exactly how they made them feel and why, and the restrictive nature of traditional surveys simply do not allow this.

He also looked at how the proliferation of communication channels has radically altered the way that consumers are interacting with brands, highlighting how crucial it is for CX measurement to tap into this in order to stay relevant.

Chief Technology Officer, Steven Thurlow and VP of Innovation, Hardeep Johal, illustrated how to do exactly that with their much anticipated ‘Big Reveal’ session. They introduced Rant and Rave’s latest innovation – their always on, customer initiated, feedback capture method – designed to work seamlessly with Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and text messages.

Rather than focus solely on text, the solution can understand images, videos, and emojis – however the customer wants to communicate. To take things a step further they also introduced ‘Ravebot’ – a ‘chatbot with a heart’ which is able to send contextually relevant and empathetic responses. This is an industry first.

The power of employee engagement

Another purpose of the day was to allow clients to share their experiences: Wayne Hall, Senior Manager of Reward & Engagement, Dunelm, was the first of these to take to the stage, discussing how as an organisation they have focused in on the importance of employee engagement.

He raised the question: why companies choose not to place the same importance on getting feedback from their employees as they do their customers? Prior to working with Rant & Rave, Dunelm ran a lengthy annual employee survey which provided managers with little insight and meant they had to wait almost two months to receive the results.

Wayne described how, since using Rant & Rave’s solution, they now have an always-on system to gauge employee happiness and satisfaction, consisting of just two simple questions.

Managers receive feedback in real time and in the employees’ own words, meaning they now have actionable insights that they can respond to as they happen. A year on from introducing Rant & Rave, Dunelm employees are feeling more engaged as they have left over 2000 pieces of feedback for managers.

The presentation given by HomeServe’s CEO, Greg Reed was a highlight of the day. Greg spoke passionately about how employee engagement has been critical to the transformation of HomeServe in the last few years. In 2014 the company was in severe jeopardy, having just received a record industry fine for mis-selling and poor complaints handling.

Now just three years later the company has been recognised as the most improved of all companies in the services sector by The Institute of Customer Service. Greg spoke about how he worked with HomeServe’s other senior executives to bring about a cultural transformation within the business.

Together, they developed a strategy to ensure that every customer would receive effortless service every time. Fundamental to this was putting their own people first because, in Greg’s own words, “look after your people and they will look after your customers”.

HomeServe has developed a culture whereby every single employee is proud to be making a difference in their customers’ lives. The strategy is clearly working because as well as having happy customers, HomeServe has a truly engaged workforce as evidenced by the fact it has been ranked the third best company to work for in the UK by Glassdoor.

Empowering frontline agents

Crucial to HomeServe’s renaissance has been listening to its frontline agents and empowering them to make the decisions that will make their customers’ lives easier. Every morning at 8.30am, Greg and his senior team sit down with the frontline agents and listen to the changes or decisions they would like to make.

He recounted the story of how a HomeServe engineer was sent to a job and on arrival noticed through the window that an elderly customer was unconscious in her home. The engineer managed to break into the property and performed CPR which saved the lady’s life. After the incident, the engineer felt so strongly about his intervention that he recommended to the Board that every one of HomeServe’s 12,000 engineers should receive first aid training, which they duly agreed to.

In a time when the industry is constantly challenged to demonstrate the ROI of any CX programme, the HomeServe story provides a great example. In the last five years, the company’s stock price has risen in line with its Rant & Rave employee engagement score, rising from161p to 860p.

The link between employee and customer engagement

If there was to be one key take away from this year’s Raveolution it’s that employee and customer engagement are intrinsically linked. If you think about positive brand experiences you’ve had, it will almost certainly include a company representative who did something out of the ordinary.

Emotions drive the hearts, minds, and wallets of customers. While many frontline agents will realise that sticking to the script isn’t always the right approach for the customer, the truth is that most are restricted by processes and protocols. While they are encouraged to solve problems for the customer, they’re rarely empowered to do this proactively.

Frontline agents are the key to an organisation’s ability to provide outstanding customer service. As shown by Dunelm and HomeServe, if a company develops a comprehensive employee engagement strategy focused around listening to, and empowering agents, then they, in turn, will have the ability and inclination to do what is best for the customer, resulting in a happier, more satisfied and loyal customer base.

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