You Can’t Transform Customer Engagement Without Employee Engagement
A recent Gallup opinion poll made for some fairly grim reading for global organizations. It found that 70 percent of American workers are either “Not Engaged” or are “Actively Disengaged” from their workplaces. In Europe, the situation was even worse, with the highest engagement level being in Denmark. However, that number is still only 21 percent of employees engaged—France leads the way in levels of employee disillusionment and apathy with only nine percent of employees engaged.
One of the most interesting things about the survey was how little the results had changed in the 12 annual surveys. Since 2000, the results for “Not Engaged” or “Actively Disengaged” from their workplaces have hovered consistently between 70 percent to 74 percent. Employee disengagement seems to be a long-term phenomenon.
The scary thing for U.S. organizations is that, on average, your customers potentially come face to face with employees who aren’t motivated seven times out of every 10 interactions. It is virtually impossible for organizations to transform customer engagement if their employees are not engaged. Thus, addressing the disengaged 70 percent has become a huge business opportunity. Major achievements in productivity, employee retention and customer experience will be achieved by organizations that can tap into this 70 percent pool and begin to convert them to engaged employees.
To begin to address employee engagement issues, organizations need to focus on the following core areas: employee empowerment, process design, analytics and training
Organizations must shift non-strategic decision making from the center of the organization to your customer-facing employees. Does your employee really need an approval chain to provide compensation for poor customer service? For a high-value client, do agents need approval to match the offer of a competitor? To further support employee decision making, organizations should address customer data silos and use knowledge management tools to help ensure customer-facing staff have access to the right customer data in context to enable them to make more informed decisions.
It’s best not to tie employees to fixed processes. In many cases, job dissatisfaction and demotivation are because jobs are reduced to following a script, and employees have little or no opportunity to use their initiative or suggest alternative solutions for their customers.
Case management and business process management tools allow organizations to automate repetitive tasks and free agents to focus on process exceptions and unique, unpredictable customer problems. In addition, gamification tools can be integrated within your business processes to help elevate and sustain employee performance and keep employees engaged.
An annual survey of employee engagement and satisfaction is no longer enough for organizations looking to transform employee engagement—it requires a sustained effort. Applications such as Workforce Optimization (WFO) and Desktop and Process Analytics (DPA) can help organizations obtain a real-time view of individual employee engagement and productivity. In addition, WFO and DPA can help identify employee training gaps as well as process improvement opportunities before more serious problems occur.
To sustain employee engagement, training and improvement must be a holistic and continuous process. In the December 9, 2014 Forrester Research, Inc. report: “The Customer Experience Curriculum” author Samuel Stern writes that “To be a truly customer-obsessed organization, all employees need training on the basics of customer experience.” Organizations must go beyond the customer interface and address engagement issues within the organization, and among employees, managers and executives. Executives and senior management must lead by example and foster a closer engagement with their front-line staff. Managers should mentor staff and teach customer-obsessed personal behaviors.
In many organizations, employee engagement begins and ends with the annual employee engagement or satisfaction survey. This is clearly no longer enough. The rewards are huge for organizations that can solve the employee engagement puzzle and begin to tap into the 70 percent pool of disengaged employees and convert them to motivated employees.
What is required is a holistic, integrated, real-time approach to employee engagement. However, this can only be successful with changes in managerial techniques, soft skills and also in the design of flexible IT solutions that engage, analyze and empower employees rather than lock them into inflexible business processes.
For more information from Forrester Research on the importance of becoming customer-obsessed, click here.
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