The customer experience has emerged as the one of the most important measures for success for companies across all industries. With consumers now saturated by choice, businesses now have to focus on delivering superior customer experiences in order to differentiate themselves in the market. With every purchase made customers are now invited to review their experience, rate the product or leave feedback for the company.
With the advent of smart phones and social media a negative comment or review can be around the world in a few seconds. Yet the needs of those who are responsible for providing that superior customer experience, the employees, are often overlooked. Businesses are so focused on customer satisfaction, how often do they measure employee satisfaction? All investment in technology and the user experience are customer focused, yet even the most advanced organisations within the technology sector provide antiquated systems and processes for their employees to use.
Studies have shown that both customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction jointly affect an organisation’s success. This represents a real opportunity for HR departments to be more strategic, as they are the custodians of the “employee experience”. How do you put your employees in the right frame of mind so as to get the best performances out of them?
HR should be about informing the organisation on what people are thinking and feeling with regards to their job and their environment, not just about providing numbers around headcount. In reality it all comes down to trust. If you don’t trust the people you have hired why did you hire them in the first place?
Yet HR so often start from a position of mistrust believing the employees are like “Reverse Superman” – people who are creative, thought provoking and high achieving outside of work i.e. “Superman” enter the work place and become “Clark Kent”, treated as though they leave their brains at the door, tied up in rules and policies. Creativity can’t be automated whereas processes and systems can. So businesses should invest in creativity and put trust in their employees. It is also about collaboration. Many organisations could transform their employee experience if each department collaborated more instead of sticking to individual silos, yet this is often met with resistance.
The issue is that HR Teams often don’t feel empowered to make any of these changes to allow such creativity. As an HR Leader you have performance objectives that look at headcount, because that is measurable and can be shown against the bottom line. You are unlikely to ever be targeted against objectives that look at employee engagement and satisfaction, even if you conduct surveys as part of your role. Businesses shy away from this because it’s hard to measure, yet they often have whole departments dedicated to measuring the satisfaction and engagement of their customers.
Perhaps it is time to apply some of the principles we apply to the customer experience to the employee experience. Should businesses start segmenting the work force the way they segment their customers in order to provide a tailored working experience? This might be something for the future but what about actually asking their employees how they would build their work place. The rise in popularity of company review sites like Glassdoor means that businesses can’t hide away from this for much longer.
Businesses have a framework for delivery that is 20th Century but the world has moved on and it is time for companies to redefine what they expect from their employees. The DNA of most organisations can prevent them from modernising, resulting in quality staff leaving for start-ups or companies that they perceive to be more innovative. It is time for organisations to embrace innovation and empower their employees so they can provide that all important customer experience.