Gathering and acting on customer feedback is foundational to customer-centric culture, and many companies today are beginning to execute on these tactics to create memorable, lasting experiences for their customers. But should they be concentrating on more?
The Starting Point
You’re doing all the right things when it comes to listening to your customers. You’re sending them short, targeted client satisfaction surveys. You’re analyzing what they are saying on Twitter and social media outlets. You’re taking action on what they are telling you in real-time. And you’re taking an outside-in perspective to ensure that all systems and processes have the customer at the forefront. These are all vital steps in the move to creating an exceptional and differentiated customer experience.
But, Something is Missing
The outside-in perspective is essential for figuring out what your customers really want, need, and are experiencing. But the inside-out view is just as essential yet often absent. You have a tremendous source of customer insight in your own organization, simply waiting to be heard. These are the people who know your customers better than anyone else: your front-line employees. They talk to your customers every day. They hear firsthand your customers’ joys and complaints. They know when your organization is succeeding at delivering that exceptional customer experience and when you’re failing. But more than that – they have a unique understanding of the why.
We’re Already Listening to Employees, Aren’t We?
Your HR department is likely already gathering employee feedback via surveys to measure employee engagement. This annual or bi-annual survey event lends lots of insight into how motivated and satisfied employees are and how to get better. But these surveys, like customer satisfaction surveys, don’t provide real-time, trended insights into what’s going on with the customer experience.
Okay, So What Should We Be Doing and Why?
Think about what you could learn if you were to apply the same vehicles you use to gather customer feedback to amass employee input on the customer experience.
The way in which employee feedback is gathered can vary, from surveys, to focus groups, to task forces, to virtual forums. One new approach that PeopleMetrics offers is a Voice of the Employee on the Customer Experience online solution. This simple online tool uses text analytics to mine feedback collected from employees about the customer experience. It helps to quickly and simply identify themes and trends related to great customer experiences, problems, barriers and solutions. This tool is also an excellent way to gather stories and share them with the rest of the organization, thereby bringing the customer to life for everyone – front and back stage.
And, here are just a few of the benefits you could reap by starting to listen more systematically to your front line employees:
Identify root causes: Let them tell you what is really causing your customers’ pain points. Your customer has their interpretation of the issue, which they tell you through their own feedback, but your employees can tell you what’s going on behind the scenes that leads to that problem. Whether the issue is internal communications, technology, a training gap, or internal processes, employee feedback helps to uncover the internal barriers to delivering on customer expectations.
Brainstorm solutions and increase innovation: Your employees are smart. They have ideas and creativity and likely have suggestions they can share to help you overcome the barriers to delivering an exceptional experience. Systematically gathering employee feedback means you are constantly hearing new ideas to improve upon the customer experience. You’ll get some really creative (and possibly some really bizarre) ideas from your employees – and one or two really excellent ideas may just be enough to make the differentiated impact you’ve been seeking.
Find and tap into your bright spots: Employee feedback isn’t just about identifying what’s going wrong or what can be improved. It can also be used to find out what employees are doing right. Use employee feedback on the customer experience to identify the behaviors and practices that are creating “wow” moments for your customers.
Engage your employees: Employees want to be heard. In fact, according to PeopleMetrics research, employees who agree that their ideas and opinions are valued are over four times more likely to be engaged than those that don’t believe that to be the case. Proactively soliciting ideas and feedback makes your employees feel respected and assigns meaning to their role. It connects them to the mission of creating a memorable customer experience. PeopleMetrics research has also found that employee engagement is higher in organizations that have a customer focus – it’s a win-win!
Gathering your employees’ feedback on the customer experience can result in new, innovative ways of conducting business and providing the best possible experience to your customers while deepening engagement and connection with your staff. But keep in mind that just like customer feedback, listening falls flat if you don’t show you heard by closing the loop with your employees’ and demonstrating that their input is valued.
Posted on 10-24-2013