5 Ways to Get CX Buy-In from Frontline Employees

Frontline employees are constantly tasked with metrics—handle time, occupancy, attendance, and, of course, customer experience (CX). However, all of this focus on metrics can prevent our frontline teams from realizing the wealth of value they can bring to a CX program. 

So How Can You Engage Your Frontline Employees in CX Programs?

There are a myriad of ways that I have operationalized during my time as a practitioner. And, additionally, I have also been able to see how many of our InMoment clients engage their employees in their CX programs. 

For my post today, I’ve compiled a list of my top five methods for gaining CX buy-in from frontline employees. So without further ado, let’s get going!

Top Five Methods for Frontline Employee CX Buy-In

  1. Broadcast the Value of Customer Experience
  2. Create Recognition Opportunities
  3. Show Employees How They Make a Difference
  4. Include Customer Experience in Frontline Training
  5. Use Customer Experience to Solve Specific Issues

Method #1: Broadcast the Value of Customer Experience

It is vitally important that the frontline teams (really the entire company) understand the importance of customer experience and, if practical, the primary CX metric that everyone is measuring. Having a theme or tagline that is shared everywhere is recommended. One of the health care companies I work with has a “Members First ” tagline that is used all around the company but especially in the contact center. All the representatives have been trained as to what their target metric, Net Promoter Score (NPS), is and why it is important.

Method #2: Create Recognition Opportunities

Create frequent opportunities to appreciate the frontline effort. “WOW” alerts, reader board messages (if we are ever in offices again), notes from site leaders when a positive comment is received from a customer …. It all goes a long way to instill a culture where excellent customer experience is celebrated.

Method #3: Show Employees How They Make a Difference

Leverage the frontline employees for continuous improvement initiatives. When I was a practitioner, I did employee roundtables and I Y-Jacked with frontline employees. I used those opportunities to validate what I was seeing in survey data. I actively solicited feedback and ideas on how to reduce customer friction directly from the source—the agents. I found that even if I could show just a small change as a result of my own or my team’s face-to-face interactions, the frontline teams became more bought into our CX program.

Method #4: Include Customer Experience in Frontline Training

Make customer experience a module in frontline training. Even if it is only a few minutes, show the trainees the survey text, share the “beacon” metric, and tell them why we emphasize customer experience. Explain how we learn from our customers what works well and what we can improve and truly stress how important they are to the process. Doing this in training introduces customer experience before they ever take a call or interact with customers.

Method #5: Use Customer Experience to Solve Specific Issues

Leverage very specific interactions for employee feedback with regard to customer experience. Many of our clients use our Resolve tool for case management. Part of our Resolve process is to capture employee feedback about the escalation interaction as part of the case closure process. We specifically ask them to help identify the root cause of the case and their suggestions to eliminate similar cases in the future. This creates a defined opportunity for the frontline reps to have a voice in how customers are served.

At the End of the Day…

Our frontline employees are the face of the company. If we get them bought into the program, they are the best advocates and ambassadors for customer experience. Celebrating them and asking for their opinions and insights are the best ways to get them—and keep them—engaged.

Want to learn more about how to engage your employees in the customer experience? Check out this eBook, “Better CX Begins with Employees”

COVID Changed Workplaces. Here’s How Yours Must Adapt

COVID-19 may finally be receding from many parts of the world, but the changes the pandemic left behind aren’t going away anytime soon. The workplace, for example, changed virtually overnight, as many employees suddenly found themselves working from home and under strict lockdown. This shift in the Post-COVID workplace created a number of paradigm changes that a lot of organizations are still trying to catch up to.

If your brand is one of those organizations, we have you covered! What follows is a brief discussion about the post-COVID workplace. We’ll set the stage by going a bit more in-depth on those changes we mentioned earlier, and end by leaving you a few ideas on how your brand, workplace, and culture can adapt!

The Work-from-Home Paradigm Shift

For a lot of people, starting to work from home wasn’t as simple as setting up a laptop in the living room. Concurrent school closures meant that many employees had to balance homeschooling their kids with work responsibilities in real time. Childcare wasn’t the only home responsibility to blend into work, either—errands, laundry, and the like came together with work to create a previously unthinkable new paradigm. Couple that with waiting for lockdowns to end, and you have what one of our thought leaders fittingly calls “time soup,” a home reality in which everything is stirred together.

Working from home brought about some macro-level changes, too. It’s more difficult for employees to create connections when they’re physically separated, and this poses new challenges for brands that want to create cohesive cultures. Every company that wants to succeed needs a good workplace culture, so the question must be asked: how can brands like yours navigate this new work-life balance and this new culture landscape to find success and Experience Improvement (XI)? Don’t worry; we have a few ideas on that!

How to Adapt

The first key to adapting to the post-COVID workplace isn’t just to accept that working from home is the new normal—it’s figuring out how to make that new normal work for your organization. Think about the work factors unique to your organization—office footprint, nature of work, local COVID restrictions, and your employees’ current setups—without being afraid to try new things. Leaders at the messaging service Slack have said they want to take this time to question everything they thought they knew about the workplace… and that’s a great attitude! Challenge long-held assumptions as you establish what the new normal looks like for you.

Additionally, always be on the lookout for ways to create human connectivity at a time where physical contact is still a relative rarity. Your teams have already probably had Zoom happy hours and the like for the last 18 years, but don’t stop there! Get teams who don’t usually interact with each other into the same chat if you can. Connecting people whose paths don’t normally cross helps create that workplace culture that is so important to brand success. It also gives you a chance to sync different teams’ perceptions of your customer, which is vital for consistent experiences.

The overarching theme here is that adapting to this new workplace the right way isn’t ‘just’ good for employees; it can help you meaningfully transform your workplace culture and positively impact customer experiences, too! To learn more, click here to read the full-length point of view on this subject by our CHRO, Wendy Rand, who can show you more on how to not just adapt to this new normal, but thrive in it.

From Boardroom to Breakroom: How to Make Your Organization an Experience Improvement Machine

You’ve heard us talk about how your employees are the best resource you have when it comes to experience improvement, but how do you truly harness their power? What decisions and changes can you make in the boardroom that empower employees in the breakroom to deliver on customer experience?

The truth is that training for a customer-centric culture on a location-by-location basis is simply not enough. Because when it comes down to it, turning your employees into your best customer experience advocates is an initiative that needs to be led, enforced, and encouraged on an organizational scale.  

If you’re looking to get started and lead the way for your organization, we’ve broken down your mission into four key parts. And we’re including specific actions you can take to transform your employee culture into something that puts the customer at the heart of everything. Let’s dive in!

Mission #1: Dial in on Core Competencies 

To get anywhere, you first need to understand where you’re headed, right? This is especially true for your Experience Improvement (XI) strategy. 

At the beginning of your journey to a customer-centric culture, you must first craft detailed definitions of the competencies required for employees to deliver on your organization’s ideal customer experience. Additionally, it wouldn’t hurt to audit the level of the required competencies in staff who are currently carrying out customer experience management roles and compare them to your required standards.

Once you understand where you are and where you want to be, you can implement a competency development plan that includes a mix of formal training, on-the-job coaching, mentoring, self-learning, etc. 

Examining legacy and new training initiatives that impact customer-facing staff allows you to ensure that the messages and techniques employees promote are consistent with your organization’s customer experience strategy.

Mission #2: Publicly Encourage a Customer-Centric Culture

Now that you know what your end goal is, don’t let your mission of creating a customer-centric culture be an afterthought in your organization. Be loud about it! 

You should have plenty of examples of best-case scenario customer/employee interactions from your feedback data, so take advantage of them. Regularly share examples of behaviors that illustrate your organization’s desired customer culture. You should include perspectives about what individuals did and indicate why those specific actions had such a positive impact on customers. You can do this in an internal newsletter or use our Moments app to share with company leaders.

Additionally, make sure you’re in constant communication with human resources. You need to ensure that recruitment processes have explicit steps in place in order to check that potential candidates possess the attitudes and beliefs that are consistent with your organization’s customer culture. That way, any person you bring in is already on the same customer-centric path as your company.

Mission #3: Engage and Motivate Employees

You’ve started openly and actively discussing your customer-first perspective; now it’s time to get employees motivated to join in.

Within key teams, identify social leaders or customer experience all-stars and harness their influence by asking them to lead training exercises. Be sure to arm them with coaching materials and other collateral that break down your organization’s approach to customer experience. You can even supply them with feedback data so they can relay to the team exactly what behaviors or processes need to be replicated or improved.

At the same time as you want to be a cheerleader for your initiatives, it’s also important to understand the questions and potential resistance some line managers and supervisors may face when implementing any changes. That’s why it’s vital to hear them out and  support them via training, supplemental materials, and processes to implement desired actions and maintain continuous improvement.

Additionally, you need to be mindful when it comes to employee incentives. You want to be sure that reward structures reflect your customer strategy. For example, many CX programs have shifted their focus from metrics to big-picture business improvements via customer acquisition, retention, cross-sell and upsell efforts, or by reducing costs. When they make this shift, they often change their rewards programs from incentivizing customer surveys to rewarding employees who have been shouted out by customers for providing an exceptional experience.

Mission #4: Organize with Customers in Mind

Just as your training initiatives and rewards programs need to be aligned with your Experience Improvement strategy, so too must your org chart and processes be equally aligned. 

Review existing barriers to delivering your desired customer experience, paying particular attention to handoffs between functions/departments and to potential conflicts in functional objectives and targets. 

For instance, let’s say that customers are complaining that it takes too long to have an issue resolved in your online portal. You investigate and find that, in order for any online portal issues to be fixed, a customer must call up your contact center, which in turn must hand that customer off to the IT team in order to actually fix the issue. An organizational solution to such a problem would be to have a team in your contact center dedicated specifically to online portal issues so there is no lengthy handoff.

Additionally, your customer team should have a window into any proposed organizational change to assess—and, if necessary, mitigate—any potential negative impact that changes might have on the customer experience. Remember, your goal is to have everything in your organization—including the way your org chart is structured—work toward the good of your customers. 

Strategizing for Experience Improvement

In the end, Experience Improvement isn’t something that can merely happen overnight. It takes hard work and dedication to create a customer experience that keeps customers choosing you over the competition. And, in a world where customers have more options than ever before, being able to differentiate on the experience means everything, making your experience improvement strategy something everyone—board members and frontline employees alike—can get behind.


If you’d like to learn more about how your employees can help to foster your ideal customer experience and fuel your financial success, check out our new infographic, “How Employees Can Help You Grow Customer Loyalty & Value”

The Wrong Way (and the Right Way) to Grow a Customer Experience Culture

In a post-COVID landscape, businesses across the board have struggled to adapt to evolving customer expectations and, therefore, to keep their focus on a customer experience culture. Some have adapted brilliantly, like Foodstuffs and New Zealand Post. Others, not so much.

Looking to the future, we know there is a certain level of change we can expect, and many of these are outside of everyone’s control. Sometimes, this will involve macro factors like economics, politics, or market trends, and sometimes change will involve micro factors like the demands from a new customer segment or employee health and wellbeing. If brands don’t respond to these factors, chances are, they will disappear.

While there are many things we can’t change, there are two things necessary for a customer experience culture that brands can control:

  1.  Establish loyal raving customers
  2.  Make sure your employees are highly engaged 

This blog is all about the second factor within our control: making sure your employees are switched on and delivering excellent customer service. We know this will in turn affect revenue, retention, and growth.

According to Diane Gherson, head of HR at IBM, employee engagement drives two-thirds of her company’s client experience scores. That proves what Gherson and her team knew intuitively: If employees feel good about IBM, clients do, too.

Transforming Employee Culture: The Wrong Way

InMoment’s Thomas Lorenzo, Sales Director of New Zealand, tells us his point of view on transforming employee culture to be customer-centric. 

Did you know that employee engagement has more of a connection with customer satisfaction than sleeping pills have on reducing insomnia? It’s true:

SLEEPING PILLS & IMPROVEMENT IN INSOMNIA: R = .30

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT & CUSTOMER SATISFACTION:R = .43 ¹

Many businesses make the mistake of relying on external data alone to inform their decisions, which trickles down into employee culture. You might know of a brand who is always trying to match what competitors are doing, digging into market data to solve business challenges, and ultimately looking outside the business for the answers. 

While these factors definitely have a place, relying on this external data alone isn’t the only way to inform your business decisions. By doing so, your employees are likely to feel disengaged and unmotivated. If employees are not brought along the journey, this could lead to big problems for culture. 

So, What is the Right Way To Transform Employee Culture?

The answer to an engaged workforce is to use a combination of data and employee listening. Employees are the lifeblood of your business; therefore, it’s essential to ensure their experiences receive as much attention as customer experiences. To get the most out of your employees, you need to understand their needs and desires including purpose, growth, and satisfaction. Employee feedback is an important part of the data puzzle, and it’s essential to delivering excellent customer experiences.

The data around employee engagement and its impact on revenue has been growing. The Harvard Business Review reported that 71 percent of businesses surveyed ranked employee engagement as “very important” in achieving overall organisational success. Additionally, companies with high employee engagement scores have twice the customer loyalty of companies with average employee engagement levels. 

These results reinforce that the success of employee engagement is measured not just by satisfaction scores, but also employee desire to provide a better experience. Employees are people, and people have an innate desire to engage in meaningful activities. It’s no surprise that employees who are invested in the experience of their individual customers not only create a better experience, but engender loyal brand advocates

Paying Attention to Listening Posts and Taking Action

Listening to market, customer, and employee data together is the best way to make informed decisions in an ever-changing business landscape. All of these play an important role in informing the complete picture of the customer and employee journey with your business, and highlight points in the journey that need to be improved or innovated to stay competitive.

Customer Experience Culture Begins with Employees

To learn more about transforming employee culture which in turn changes the employee experience for the better, we recommend that you take a look at this paper “Better CX Begins with Employees”.

How Business Leaders Can Navigate Staffing Challenges in a Post-COVID World

COVID vaccines have finally arrived after a year of anxiety and uncertainty, which means that businesses can begin to seriously think about the post-COVID employee landscape. Of course, the reality is that that landscape is already here, and it brought with it a host of challenging changes. Today’s conversation provides a quick rundown of staffing challenges and other employee related obstacles, as well as what brands can do to overcome them.

Why Many Employees Aren’t Returning

One of the biggest trends we’ve seen these last few weeks is employees’ seeming reluctance to return to pre-COVID careers. This is especially true for verticals whose turnover rates were high even before COVID, like hospitality and retail. Turning to our experts, we have discovered a few reasons for this reluctance to return.

First, from what we’ve been seeing and hearing, a lot of employees who were laid off at the start of the pandemic have spent the last year cultivating side gigs into sustainable (and profitable) sources of income. These side hustles are more personally rewarding for these folks than their old jobs, which is why they’re hesitating to come back even if a conventional position offers more income and benefits.

Second, a lot of employees across many industries have become accustomed to the COVID-era work/life balance, a phenomenon that one of our experts calls “time soup.” In other words, employees have gotten used to work and home life responsibilities mixing together; a lifestyle that is not so easily untangled. Thus, many employees are only seeking out companies whose positions allow that flexibility, a paradigm shift that many employers are struggling to contend with. 

It’s also important to note that some employees are reluctant to go out into the world because they or members of their family are not vaccinated. Though numbers are lower in the US, we aren’t quite out of the woods according to the CDC (or globally for that matter).

How Brands Can Respond to Staffing Challenges

Many organizations are having a hard time pivoting to this new employee reality, especially in industries where working from home is difficult or flat-out impossible. However, the post-COVID employee landscape is not a loss for brands; it’s a new set of conditions. Adapting to change isn’t easy, but we have a few ideas for tackling this challenge and being able to hire the talent you need to deliver meaningful experiences.

The first and most immediate thing brands can do here is to survey their employees. Conventional wisdom says to survey everyone, but we believe that this problem is best addressed by surveying new hires who’ve been with your organization 90 days or less. Ask your newer employees not just the usual questions, like how things are going so far, but what drove them to your brand so recently. If they’ve joined you as COVID is subsiding, that means your brand must be doing something correctly to attract new employees, right?

Once you have that intel handy, apply it to your hiring and messaging as soon as possible. Identifying your newer employees’ key drivers and values will give you a good idea of who else to look out for as you regrow your workforce. This tactic will also help you hone in on employees who will be great fits for your brand. Hiring the right people and delivering on the values that encouraged them to apply to your organization is a true win-win.

Another factor that brands should bear in mind about this new workplace reality is how much we’ve learned about remote work; specifically, that more jobs can be performed from afar than anyone thought before COVID. Your organization can take advantage here by hiring the best talent wherever they’re located. Sure, it’s nice when people can get together in person, but after the last year, it’s become clear that some teams can function effectively even when they’re entire time zones apart.

The Customer Element

If you’re reading this, it’s probably because the current staffing and labor issues we’re seeing are having an impact on your brand and, ultimately, its customer experience (CX). Fewer employees means that organizations are stretched thinner, which unfortunately increases the chance that customers will have longer wait times or other adverse interactions with your brand. We believe that time and additional research will yield other tools you can use to bridge this employment gap—until then, though, short-term methods like our survey suggestion are the best means of mitigating this issue.

The post-COVID employment landscape is challenging, and adjusting to it is no small task. But the brands that arm themselves with insights and feedback from newer employees will be better-positioned to not only adjust to this new world, but also to find the best talent for their organization and thus provide Experience Improvement (XI). 

In the meantime, you can be sure we’ll continue to monitor these changes and provide brands like yours with the best employee experience (EX) advice out there. Follow the InMoment XI Blog to stay connected and to take this post-COVID journey with us!

Why You Need to Design Your EX Program Before Listening to Employees

The experience revolution has been in full swing for many years now, and many companies have taken that to mean they must set up listening posts wherever they can and gather whatever feedback comes through from customers and employees. While that proactivity and energy are great for achieving Experience Improvement (XI), there’s a step that comes before listening to employees. And the brands that follow that step get so much more out of their employee experience (EX) program. That step is design.

At first glance, some brands might take the term “design” to mean taking a few minutes to consider whether some listening posts are more important than others. That certainly factors into designing your program, but today’s conversation focuses on a few other ways in which hitting pause, gathering your teams, and concretely designing both your program and its desired outcomes will empower you to actually improve your employees’ experiences, not just manage them.

Mind The Gap

Before you activate any listening posts, gather both your EX team and stakeholders from beyond your department. You’ll need both groups to consider the first EX design element, and that’s where your company’s culture is versus where you want it to be. Having other stakeholders and teams in the room can alert you to employee culture breakages you might not have even known about. Plus, everyone should be allowed to say what they’d like to see in an ideal workplace. It’s everyone’s culture, after all.

One of the most important parts of this conversation (and a potential elephant in the room) is the state of employee trust within your organization. The amount of trust your employees put in your company and its leaders has a direct impact on how honest their feedback will be. It can be hard to accept when employees don’t trust a brand as much as you or leaders would like, but admit that factor if it exists and keep it in mind during subsequent steps. If employees broadly trust your organization, great! If you think there’s room for improvement, this design step can help you get there.

Consistently Listening to Employees

If this is your first EX program, or your first one in a while, it’s important to remember that employee experience is a continuous, long-term process. A lot of brands build their programs in one-and-done iterations instead of as a continuous cycle, which makes it much more difficult to stay consistent (and prove financial linkages between your actions and the company’s cultural successes).

So, with that in mind, design your program for the long haul. Carefully examine what successes you need your EX program to score for your employees, work with the wider organization to implement those goals in your program, and then get ready to press play. EX is a frame of mind, not a once-a-year event, and designing your program around that paradigm shift will get your company’s workplace culture to where it needs to be to both be fulfilling for them and to strengthen your bottom line.

Click here to learn more about our Success Framework. Our very own Stacy Bolger, an EX expert with decades of experience in the field, provides an in-depth look at designing and executing programs that can improve, not just reactively manage, your employees’ experience.

How Operational Excellence Now Leads to Experience Improvement Later

Operations have everything to do with both your business’s bottom line and its relationships with customers. This makes ops’ importance to Experience Improvement (XI) pretty self-explanatory.

However, as foundational as operational excellence is to a company and its experiences, there’s more that brands can do to build a bridge between operations and Experience Improvement. Today’s conversation focuses on that bridge’s two main elements: optimization and innovation.

Element to Connect Operations with Experience Improvement

  1. Optimization
  2. Innovation

XI Element #1: Optimization

Creating operational excellence isn’t a one-and-done. It’s a process that requires constant attention and tweaking. Your experience initiatives can help here by shining a light on systemic issues that might need a closer look. That spotlight can also be used to help come up with fixes for those problems. Of course, a tried-and-true process for identifying and then responding to problems like these is a must here.

Fortunately for brands and organizations everywhere, a lot of the optimizing work has already been completed by the time you hit a stride with your operational excellence! Being good at ops means skillfully gathering the deep analyses and intel your brand uses to be better. This means you’ll already have some idea of what your north star should be as you begin the optimization phase. Desiloing data and sharing it with every team in the organization is also key here.

XI Element #2: Innovation

Innovation is what optimizing your operations builds toward. It’s what allows brands to actually implement their proposed solutions, study how they go, and realize their benefits. Having operational excellence in place makes it easier for brands to forecast market trends and, ultimately, predict exactly what their customers will want. In other words, ops-fueled innovation keeps your company robust and ahead of the curve.

Staying ahead of the curve is a major part of Experience Improvement, and it can only be enabled by:

  1. Operational excellence
  2. Optimization
  3. Innovation

Anticipating what your customers want before they may even know goes a long way toward building the relationships that cause them to ignore the competition (and that let them know you care about them as people). Unstructured feedback, especially from Voice of Customer (VoC) programs, is one of the best sources of additional intel on how to stay ahead of the curve and keep pleasantly surprising your customers.

Click here to learn more about how operational excellence leads to Experience Improvement. Expert Jennifer Passini, Ph.D., goes over additional means of using ops to better your experience and how it all feeds into the grander goal of meaningful transformation for your bottom line and your customer relationships.

How Employee Experience Impacts Your Business

You’ve heard it time and time again: employees are your greatest asset for business success. 

We all know it’s true, but only a few experts can articulate (and prove) how the employee experience directly impacts the bottom line. And perhaps that’s why so many brands stick to the customer experience and fail to include employees in their efforts. The thing is, however, that the customer experience and the employee experience overlap in so many ways.

In the first episode InMoment’s “XI Expert Take” video series, VP of Global Employee Experience Stacy Bolger dives into that overlap and explains how businesses can leverage their employee experience for organization-wide success. Here are a couple of takeaways we want to highlight for you:

Lack of EX Investment Equals Significant Revenue Drainage

As a part of her role at InMoment, Stacy Bolger often visits brands to brainstorm solutions to their greatest EX challenges. Despite the fact that these brands span across industries and the globe, Bolger has found that she often sees the same phenomenon unfold: brands that don’t have a strategy in place to survey their employees lose money.

In her “XI Expert Take” episode, she uses the example of a call center to bring this point to life. In her story, call center agents regularly take the same call about a process inefficiency that causes customers frustration.

“Let’s say that [in that call center] 150 representatives take a call [for the same issue] twenty times per week. That comes out to three thousand times per week. At eight dollars per call, that now has translated to $24,000 a week on the same call. And when we annualize it? That comes to $1.2 million a year that we are spending on a single call type and a process that a frontline employee has the insight to fix, knows the solution to, and yet that brand simply does not have the process with which to gather that feedback.”

That’s right. If the brand in Stacy’s example simply surveyed its employees asking for insights about the customer experience, it could save over a million dollars! And though this situation is hypothetical, the same kind of revenue drain is all too real for brands that fail to invest in the employee experience and examine the voice of employee (VoE).

Failure to Listen to Employees Leads to Lower Engagement

Voice of employee initiatives definitely excel at removing customer-unfriendly processes, but they also are absolutely vital to keeping employee morale up and churn down. Why? Because employees who feel listened to feel valued, are more engaged, and are likely to stick around a lot longer.

Put yourself in your employees’ shoes. If you kept bringing up a recurring process or operations issue to your manager, but nothing was being done to fix that issue on a large scale, how would you feel? You’d feel small, you’d feel ignored, and you’d feel as if all the work you put in day after day amounts to nothing in the eyes of your employer. If you felt that way, would you stick around?

It’s safe to say that no one would enjoy that situation. And when unsatisfied employees leave, your organization loses tenured, passionate employees and a significant amount of money. In fact, turnover can cost a company about 33% of

an employee’s annual salary. How? Because when an employee leaves, the business has to take on multiple costs, including the cost to recruit and the cost to train! 

Putting a voice of employee program into place prevents this drainage. It creates a strategy with which brands can survey their employees about the customer experience. And when you combine strategic listening with advanced analytics that unearth trends in that data, you can alert the right teams within the company to take action and make change. 

When the employee sees a process they’ve flagged as an issue transformed into something more customer friendly, they feel like an imperative part of the organization (which, in truth, they are).

Tying Business Value Back to Employee Initiatives

In the rest of her episode, Stacy highlights other areas where employee initiatives excel, does some quick math to quantify the results, and tells you the steps you should take to get the ball rolling. 

But don’t take our word for it. You can watch the full twenty minute session for free here!

Fight Change with Change: How Brands Can Overcome COVID

We’ve explored how COVID-19 has changed customer experience (CX) and behaviour in prior conversations, and how those changes are likely to leave the CX landscape altered for the foreseeable future. While the announcement and gradual deployment of a COVID vaccine is certainly cause for hope, it’s important to remember that the pandemic will be with the majority of us a while longer.

This is not the most welcome of news, especially for brands in hard-hit verticals like non-grocery retail and food service, but those organisations still have recourse for keeping their heads above water and thriving in the post-COVID world. Here’s how brands can stay ahead—how they can fight change with change.

Choose Your Transaction

Customers have enjoyed being able to choose how to transact with brands, but the rise of COVID-19 has put most of them on high alert in this regard. Customers are now especially wary of any threats to their health or personal safety, and take these factors into account when considering everything from in-person interactions with employees to touching a self-service kiosk.

As I mentioned in a previous discussion, contactless payments have skyrocketed during COVID-19 and will certainly remain the norm even after this pandemic concludes. There’s a more abstract shift underlying this trend, though, and it’s that customers are expecting brands to deliver greater transaction choice whatever its form. Foot Locker, for example, has continued to offer contactless payments, but has also begun offering Klarna as an online option. Customers have also come to expect these changes at a quicker pace thanks to COVID, and will continue to do so.

Tech’s Time to Shine

As difficult as this pandemic has been for many organisations, it also presents an opportunity to create new, oftentimes unorthodox solutions to the virus and other business challenges. Innovation has gotten many a brand through adverse times before, which is why companies must think outside the technological box as much as their resources will allow.

My favorite example of COVID-era innovation right now is Tesco, which has sought to address the rise in contactless payments by piloting its own drone programme. With this initiative, the grocer is using a fleet of drones to deliver groceries to customers in Ireland, satisfying those individuals’ desire for contactless payments and personal safety all at once. Tesco may very well continue the programme even after the pandemic subsides—after all, the innovations minted during crises rarely just go away after the fact.

A New World

That last idea is something that brands should bear in mind going forward. Not to sound indelicate, but crises come and go. Innovation, however, is forever. Organisations should remember that the tools they’re developing to combat COVID-19 now will likely serve as the foundation of a post-pandemic world. Fighting change with change is not just a stopgap measure; it provides a map for what brands can expect from their customers (and what customers will expect of them) going forward.

Click here to learn more about my take on this subject, the obstacles brands face in the age of COVID, and how they might find success for themselves and their customers as we transition to 2021.

5 Steps to Improve—Not Just Manage—Your Experience

Since the inception of customer experience (CX), the conversation about feedback and listening tools has largely revolved around data collection. Many brands have emphasized turning listening programs on immediately, gathering feedback from everyone, and using that feedback to inform both metrics and strictly reactive experience management.

Is there not a deeper layer to experience, though? Top-tier analyst firms like Forrester certainly seem to think so. That conversation about gathering feedback, about experience management, is being taken a step further to a new paradigm: Experience Improvement (XI).

Rather than being about reactive management and just watching metrics like NPS, experience improvement encourages brands to amp things up by creating meaningful, emotionally connective experiences for each and every customer. What follows are five steps to getting your program to that level.

Five Steps to Improve Experiences

  1. Design
  2. Listen
  3. Understand
  4. Transform
  5. Realize

Step #1: Design

Until now, most experience program frameworks encourage brands to turn listening posts on immediately and use gathered feedback to shape eventual goals. However, with experience improvement, this model is inverted to great effect. Rather than getting feedback first, forming goals later, brands should carefully think about what objectives they want their program to accomplish and design their listening efforts around those goals.

For example, does your brand want to reduce customer churn by a given percentage? What about increasing retention or acquisition? Whatever your company’s goal, your experience program can help you get much further toward it if you spell out concrete, numbers-driven goals before turning any listening posts on. Frankly, some audiences are also more worth listening to than others, and completing this step can help your brand better decide where to tune in and why.

Step #2: Listen

Once you’ve established your experience program’s goals and audiences, you can then turn your aforementioned listening posts on. Having determined which audiences to listen to before doing so can help your brand consolidate experience program resources toward much more helpful groups. For example, if you’re looking to boost customer retention, it makes more sense to focus on your established customer base than anyone who interacts with your brand in any context. This approach saves your brand time and resources hunting down helpful intel.

Step #3: Understand

After gathering more focused, relevant feedback through your program, take time to carefully digest it and sort out what might need improvement. An experience platform armed with capabilities like sentiment analysis can be a huge help here.  Additionally, it bears repeating that understanding your feedback means more than scoreboard-watching NPS—it means diving deep into customer feedback to understand common themes, praises, problems, and possible solutions.

Step #4: Transform

Understanding your customer feedback is one thing; using it to meaningfully transform the business is another. This is arguably the most work-intensive step of the experience improvement framework… and one of the most important. Meaningful transformation means sharing CX intelligence with leaders across the business (especially in the departments most relevant to the feedback) and working closely with them to outline and implement process improvements. Desiloing data is always a good idea because it gives employees a holistic view of the brand’s purpose.

Step #5: Realize

Realizing experience improvement means circling back to the goals you set forth in the design stage to ascertain how things shook out. Did you meet your program numbers? Perhaps more importantly, have the improvements implemented as a result of your program resulted in positive cultural changes? Having an initial goal to compare your outcome to is vital to realizing experience improvement… and simplifies proving ROI to request more resources for additional efforts.

By following these steps, organizations can transcend managing experiences and start meaningfully improving them. As we mentioned up top, Experience Improvement leads to the sorts of deeply connective experiences that keep customers coming back no matter what, leading to fundamental brand success.

To read more about these five steps—and brands who have found success with them—check out this article for free today!

3 Ways to Supercharge Your Employee Experience Program

We recently touched on the importance of employee experience (EX) programs and how your brand can get a powerful, effective EX initiative off the ground (or dust off an existing one). Starting your EX program is a big deal, but how can companies keep the momentum going once they’ve turned on the listening posts and gotten the first bits of employee feedback?

Today, we’re going to go over three ways to supercharge your EX program (and keep it that way) to help your brand’s experience be the best it can be:

  • Method 1: Stick to The Plan
  • Method 2: Lead Across Teams
  • Method 3: Take Action

Method #1: Stick to The Plan

It’s important to design your program with the end in mind before you even activate any listening posts. Designing with the end in mind means taking the time to consider which goals you want your program to accomplish—reducing employee churn by a given percentage, for example.

However, it’s just as important to make sure your team sticks to that plan after you activate your program. This isn’t to say you can’t consider new goals or aspirations if your feedback points to them; it just means checking in regularly to make sure your program is hitting KPIs, financial goals, and other hard numbers. That way, you can quantify your program’s success, which makes asking the ELT for additional resources much simpler.

Method #2: Lead Across Teams

It’s common for brands to leave EX programs solely in the hands of a dedicated team or the HR department. Both of those groups should be included, of course, but true EX success comes from sharing program ownership and leadership opportunities across the company. Encourage business unit leaders across your organization to collaborate with their teams and each other. This makes meaningfully acting on employee feedback much, much easier.

Effective program leadership also means continuing to involve the people to whom you reached out at the very beginning. Every experience program requires executive sponsorship, employee buy-in, and keeping those folks in the loop as your program matures. That responsibility can’t fade into the background once your initiative takes off.

Method #3: Take Action

Sticking to your program plan and encouraging your organization to collaborate on it are both powerful means of ensuring one thing: that action is taken upon your initiative’s gathered intelligence. When everyone is working together and your plan is hitting milestones at a steady drumbeat, your brand can create a meaningfully improved workplace culture and thus a better experience for all.

Successful EX Program = Successful CX Program

That better employee experience correlates directly with an improved customer experience. Although seamless transactions are important, customers seek emotion and human connections with their experiences. Employees who feel passionate and driven about their work can provide that, and it all begins with adhering to your plan, desiloing it across the organization, and taking action to transform your experience into something wonderful.

Want to read more about the importance of employee experience programs? Our expert Stacy Bolger has a new article out walking you through the foundations of a world-class program. You can read it here!

Why Your Brand Should Start (or Dust Off) an EX Program

A customer experience (CX) program is the best way to collect feedback from your audiences, glean useful learnings, and use that knowledge to meaningfully improve your brand experience. Initiatives like these usually determine whether your business is a leader within your vertical, or a follower. As such, they’ve become commonplace over the last decade or so.

What about employee experience (EX) programs, though? What value do they provide, why should your brand have one if it doesn’t already, and how can they help you improve your customer experience? Today, we’re going to briefly walk you through these and other questions within the EX world.

Creating Considerable Cultures

The first (and most obvious) case for starting an EX program is the benefit it provides workplace culture. Your brand needs to recruit and retain the best employee talent out there if it hopes to become a vertical leader—an EX program can help your organization identify its cultural strengths and fix breakages that might be repelling new employees or leaving current ones feeling disengaged.

On a more fundamental level, EX programs help employees find meaning in their work. We all want to be good at our jobs and to find them fulfilling, which is why it’s important to give employees a chance to speak up. Moreover, employees must be given an opportunity to make a difference, and meaningfully applying EX program learnings sparks that very phenomenon.

Saving Up

There’s another benefit that comes with using an EX program to positively affect your company’s workplace culture: saving money. Whether it’s recruiting a new employee, dealing with absenteeism, or contending with churn, there’s no aspect of employment that doesn’t come with a price tag. Employees are a company’s greatest resource, but they’re also usually the greatest expense.

This is why EX tools like voice of employee (VoE) and employee engagement (EE), among others, are vital to the success of your brand. Identifying improvement opportunities in your workplace culture helps employees find more meaning in their work, as we said, but it also helps your brand avoid some pretty substantial costs. With an EX program, you can better retain your workforce, avoid costly churn, and save a big chunk of change all the while.

Connecting with CX

It’s not uncommon for brands to think of CX and EX programs as wholly separate entities, but that’s not the case. If your employee has an improved experience with your brand—takes more pride in their work, feels that their feedback is valued—that positivity is highly contagious. A happier employee translates directly to a happier customer, even if that employee doesn’t interact with customers face-to-face.

In essence, EX programs create a more meaningful workplace culture for employees, and that passion improves the customer experience. Everyone wins with an EX initiative, and brands can ride the changes these programs help bring about to the very top of their verticals.

Click here to read our full article by EX expert Stacy Bolger on these programs’ benefits, including solutions and strategies you can start applying to your own organization today!

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