What HR can learn from customer experience

Taking best practice from the customer experience can help create a more efficient and engaged workplace

A survey by Peldon Rose earlier this year revealed that half of employees said their working environment has a negative effect on their mental health (51%) and wellbeing (49%). Further, two-thirds (67%) reported that they only ‘sometimes, rarely or never’ feel valued at work.

The need for a happy, vibrant workplace has never been greater, especially as HR becomes increasingly aware of the impact employee engagement can have on delivering exceptional customer experience (CX).

By 2020, the CX landscape will be reshaped as organisations adopt AR, VR and mixed-reality immersive solutions as part of their digital transformation strategies. We are in the midst of a CX revolution that’s driving a need to create a more exciting and engaging workplace. Employees will have access to real-time information, experience virtual environments, and engage in social collaboration, which will help them gain new expertise and skillsets.

Smartphones are increasingly playing a positive role in our lives with access to games and social content creating fun, convenience, insight and caring at our fingertips. Substitute this fun with gamification, convenience with bots, insights with machine learning and caring with human intellect such as peer-to-peer assistance and put all that into a workplace model and you get amazingly-engaged employees.

Companies should be trying to:

Understand the financial benefits of engaging employees in the same way as customers. There is a direct correlation between employee and customer satisfaction. Place an intensive emphasis on adding fun, challenges and competition at every level of the business. Use data analysis and dashboards on the back end and present employees with leaderboards, badges, points, rewards and recognition based on the business metrics you are looking to improve. For one client this resulted in a 77 employee net promoter score.

Transform traditional cost centres, such as training and employee development, into revenue centres through a balance of technology and humanity. Cost centres need to better understand the business drivers and speak the language of operations – and the business. One client's learning team transitioned away from training platforms to using the same technologies as the business so they could manage their workforce, capacity planning, metrics, and so on with the same rigour and process. This provided valuable insight into the way they ran their team vs. the rest of the organisation. Within six months they were aligned and contributing 2% to the top-line growth and reducing bottom-line expenses by 3%.

Utilise existing customer-focused investments to drive financial benefits among employees. Employ the best practices of customer-facing initiatives to encourage positive behaviour change throughout the organisation. Instead of employee surveys and focus groups move to a collaborative social community where employees can openly share their thoughts, work with others across silos and break down hierarchies. Encourage staff to participate in activities such as virtual book clubs and vlogs (video blogs) of their personal lives to show their human side as well as their professional story.

Blend technology-based learning with human-based learning to create a check-and-balance process that maximises quality. Technology by itself is just technology. Ensure it is used for employees to quality check the bot and machine learning findings for human comprehension and idiosyncrasies – you can fine-tune the approval rating and acceptance of artificial intelligence data, which vastly increases the accuracy. The tag teaming of bots and humans is essential, especially when balancing culture and regional nuances.

Incentivise and reward employees to share knowledge, best practices and operational suggestions that drive automation and business improvements. Introduce a social intranet and roll it out effectively to ensure it has a positive effect and doesn’t waste time. Conduct an organisational network analysis, identify the right influencers and integrate it with your employee recognition programme, which can include everything from anniversary notifications to certification announcements. Monitor the number of comments per article.

The result…

When experienced and knowledgeable employees assist customers they build trust and loyalty. This is not a war between AI and humans, but a collaboration to create ideal working environments for employee wellbeing that will then also drive the right customer experience.

Joanne Regan-Iles is executive director human capital and talent acquisition for EMEA and India at TTEC