Presented by Bold360 by LogMeIn
Customer experience has long been predicted to overtake price and product as the key differentiator for brands, and in 2020 companies are on board and investing heavily. But along the way, the importance of employee experience has been left behind, and that’s a mistake, says Chris Savio, Manager, Product Marketing at LogMeIn.
“Employee experience tends to take second place because it doesn’t seem to be a technology or an implementation directly touching customers, or that customers are interacting with,” Savio says.
Investing in your employees as you would any other tool in your business and continuing to evaluate their experience is just as important, if not more important, than anything else that would impact customer experience, he says.
That’s because if you look at your front-line resources — your employees, your in-store associates, your phone agents, your chat agents, the workers who are putting forward your brand in a support, service, or sales experience — you’ll see that they’re another touchpoint, another tool, another piece of technology, and they’re fundamentally essential to your customer experience.
The impact of the pandemic makes this more clear than ever, Savio says. Customer service people are serving stressed, anxious clients. Over and over, agents who are able to connect with their customers, saying, ‘Hey, I hope you and your family are doing okay,’ are met with positive, appreciative responses from customers.
In general, though, it’s not just sales, service, support, or call center employees that impact customer experience he says — it’s everyone who helps make the engine run. Front-line individuals rely on internal resources to help them get their jobs done, which could include internal IT teams, HR individuals, or data analytic teams.
But the happiness of your employees is important even at two or three degrees of separation from the customer, Savio says. Your customer is at the center of your strategy, and every facet of your workforce touches them directly or indirectly.
For example, as a product marketer, Savio doesn’t interact with customers the way their customer success agents, sales individuals, or support team do, he explains.
“But if I am going to be frustrated with the technology that I’m using, or frustrated because our policies aren’t aligned to my opinions or goals,” he says, “am I going to put my best foot forward to make sure our messaging is getting out there?”
Creating strong employee experiences: The technology assist
There are many ways to ensure outstanding employee experience, Savio says.
From a practical day-to-day standpoint, you need to ensure that your employees have the tools needed to remove any friction in their work, or remove any barriers enabling them to do their jobs.
Whether it’s navigating multiple tools, trying to answer questions for customers where they don’t have the right answers, and so on, front-line service and sales employees are often left holding the bag, struggling to reach out to colleagues, or telling customers that they’ll have to get back to them.
“Simplifying the workspace is key to keeping your employees sane,” he says. “And making sure they have access to policies, procedures, documentation, knowledge, and so on to help them provide the right answers to those customers.”
Finding critical information shouldn’t be the challenge your organization’s customers or employees are dealing with, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. Knowledge management has become more important than ever.
You shouldn’t expect your agent to know every single thing that’s going on in your organization, especially given the speed with which policies are changing, now more than ever. You need to make sure they can access the information they need immediately when they’re on the phone or chatting with someone or messaging with someone.
AI-powered bots offer an efficient way to assist an employee’s workflow. By recommending content to answer a vast range of customer queries, agents and employees have the information they need, when they need it, for the ultimate assist. AI technology like natural language processing lets them easily navigate to answers — even as those answers are constantly changing.
Bots also improve employee satisfaction behind the scenes. Since they’re also particularly helpful for answering the often-repeated, mundane questions customers have, they funnel off the lower-level queries that can clog up an agent’s time and sap morale. The bots escalate higher-level questions to live agents, providing employees with more interesting interactions and tasks. All of that ladders up to improving job satisfaction and therefore, retention — a significant, and costly, issue in call centers.
Creating strong employee experiences: Partnering with your workforce
Internally, it’s important to solicit feedback from your employees just as you would with customers. You need to keep tabs on what’s working and what’s not in their daily work lives, evaluating how they’re able to complete their tasks and perform their jobs. This could require establishing an employee spokesperson, or appointing an ombudsperson.
The other essential component to creating strong EX is making sure that decisions are not just made in a tower, siloed off by senior leadership or executives. There has to be buy-in, or at least consultation, with the boots on the ground.
For example, if you’re deploying new technology or software, or you want to implement a new process, that can’t be a decision made up top, funneled down through managers, and then thrust upon the front-line team before they have a chance to react to it and understand what’s happening. The people who are going to be using that product or who are impacted by that process need to have a say in how that will or won’t work.
And when you get front-line individuals involved a little earlier, they’ll start to understand the “why” of the changes you’re making. In the end, you’ll find that listening to your employees and incorporating their feedback will significantly improve the new changes to processes, policies, or technology. It helps employees establish an emotional and intellectual connection to what the business is trying to do.
“A lot of it comes down to transparency,” Savio says. “The onus is on leadership to define the vision for the company, or define the future, and then tie decisions back to that vision.”
If everyone knows where that north star is and what the company is doing to keep going toward that goal, they’re more easily able to understand their own role in that strategy, see how their job impacts the company as a whole, and why the work they do is important. That’s an essential part of job satisfaction — and ultimately, customer satisfaction.
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