By Karine Del Moro, Vice President, Marketing, Confirmit
Companies have long been aware of the business benefits of operationalising customer feedback to drive change throughout their organisations. No one doubts the ability of Voice of the Customer (VoC) programmes to improve customer experience and loyalty, thus increasing revenue and reducing costs.
However, as the need to differentiate escalates, there is growing recognition of the value of listening to the Voice of the Employee (VoE) in order to improve employee engagement and hence customer experiences.
Quite simply, engaged, happy employees treat customers better, going the extra mile to resolve problems and creating loyal, engaged customers. Lower employee turnover also reduces the cost of doing business, improves productivity levels, and provides a bigger return on investment.
But VoE is not just about monitoring staff satisfaction rates or providing a forum for complaints. It plays a crucial role in gauging morale and understanding what makes employees tick. It’s an invaluable way to identify key areas for future investment in products, services and processes and to drive culture change as businesses continue on the path of continuous improvement.
The challenge is putting the VoE theory into practice so, as a starting point, here are four critical steps.
- Secure Internal Buy-in
Employee engagement programmes are often driven by HR but, like a VoC programme, the entire management team must show they’re committed to proving tangible support, and above all, acting on the results. Timing, communication and confidentiality are all crucial to ensuring high levels of employee participation as well as full and honest feedback.
- Gather Actionable Feedback
An annual employee engagement survey will provide some of the information you need to make long term plans but do not constitute a true VoE programme. You need a faster, more tactical feedback process to develop a culture of continuous improvement. Companies that want to build a real picture of employee engagement must capture feedback from all employees at regular intervals or following key events in the employee lifecycle. They need to seek feedback about training, workgroup experience, line managers and rewards and recognition through multiple channels (web, telephone, paper, mobile, IVR) to make the process of providing feedback as easy as possible for staff, particularly for those in the field.It’s important to take survey length and design, as well as relevancy of questions just as seriously as in VoC programmes, and to use open-ended questions to capture attitudes to senior management and buy-in to company strategy and direction. It’s also the best way to encourage employees to raise issues that are important to them.
- Analyse and Share Results
It’s imperative to turn that data is turned into actionable insight and to avoid ‘analysis paralysis’ at all costs. To get to the essential truths of the large volumes of data you collect, implement a hierarchical reporting solution that can provide top line analysis quickly and in an easy to understand manner via tailored, online dashboards. It’s vital that you can drill down into the aggregated data to identify company-wide and segment-specific (role, office, region) trends and areas for improvement. Provide tailored reporting to different stakeholders, from board members, to HR and regional and line managers, so that each has the insight they need about areas of vulnerability and systemic problems. Static reports that do not reflect the latest feedback from employees are of very little use.On a tactical, day-to-day level, use automated alerts to escalate and act upon individual employee feedback or complaints, so that you can resolve issues immediately, strengthen relationships, and retain employees in the longer term.
- Close the loop
Given that the objective is to improve employee engagement, and ultimately deliver experiences that increase customer engagement, letting employees know that they have been heard and that you’re acting on their feedback is vital. Take the information they provide, and use it to drive change, creating an incredibly powerful way of proving to your employees that you’re listening to them, supporting them and helping them to do their jobs better. In this respect, a VoE programme can be an extremely empowering experience for employees.
These four steps might seem straightforward but many companies overlook them in favour of a ‘quick fix’ solution to employee motivation and productivity. Customer-centric organisations look set to dominate an increasingly service-based economy and it is clear that engaged employees have a direct impact on the customer experience and therefore the bottom line. Successful companies must not only implement effective VoC and VoE programmes, but need to also bring data from both programmes together to correlate employee engagement with ROI, and to create new ways to drive change across the organisation.
Karine Del Moro is VP of Marketing at Confirmit. She has 15 years’ experience designing and managing marketing programs, including customer retention and business development. Karine was instrumental in the development of Confirmit Voices, a customer engagement model which provides an end to end approach to the Voice of the Customer. A Certified Net Promoter Associate, Karine has considerable knowledge on best practices in customer experience management. She is a recognized speaker and thought leader in the Voice of the Customer industry.