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Improve Colleague Experience to Deliver Good Customer Experience

building blocksIn your organization, does the sales team complain about marketing not generating enough leads? Or does the operation team have doubts about the most recent sales forecast? Or does the customer service team have concerns about human resources being too slow to recruit, hire, and train the right people to work with customer inquiries?

I think we can all agree that the linkage between customer and employee experiences is critical to delivering on your brand’s promise. However, we shouldn’t minimize the importance of an engaged workforce in delivering better customer experiences. There are many facets to ensuring that happy employees maintain satisfied customers for an organization. What is sometimes overlooked in the process of improving both types of experiences is a third experience - the colleague experience.

The focus of the colleague experience directly relates to the effectiveness of our interaction with one another. I think we would all agree that every employee has a role in achieving a better CX for your organization, even though not all employees believe it. Often, those employees engaged in adjacent operations believe that since they don’t interact directly with customers, they don’t impact CX.

That’s simply not the case. Everyone is dependent on the other to deliver on our customer commitments. The field sales representative or contact center agent may be front and center with the customer but they are deeply dependent on a host of experts across the business to deliver the product or service they are selling or supporting.

We use terms like “throwing work over the wall” or “we work in functional silos” to describe the reasoning behind why we aren’t working better together as colleagues with specific skills in a variety of business disciplines. How do we eliminate this phenomenon and create better colleague experiences?

Here are some ideas:

Create inter-departmental operating mechanisms

How does work flow through each department? What are the dependencies each function has on the other? Understand the processes going on just prior to your function and immediately after it.

Establish internal service level agreements and commitment.

Just as you do with customers, create meaningful metrics to hold one another accountable. Take time to understand the functional requirements of your adjacent departments and identify and fix pain points.

Invest in the tools for a new normal

Ensure employees have the right equipment in their homes. Avoid the stop-gap workarounds and make the necessary investments. As difficult as it may be to spend the money, eliminating this barrier can help colleagues continue meeting their objectives and delivering on their commitments.

Hold virtual “lunch and learns”

Ask others to learn about what your department does and the value you add to the experience. Welcome ideas for improvement and how your function might help others be more successful. Share day-in-the life-of profiles of employees within your department.

Foster leadership engagement and presence

Invite executives to engage with sales reps, and listen in on customer calls with contact center agents to improve their knowledge of what happens on the frontline. You’ll be amazed at how just one or two sessions like this with your executives will have long-lasting effects on how they view the customer experience.

Celebrate wins

When something good happens, celebrate it with your department and others who have helped you achieve the win. Post it on internal sites and recognize individuals who made a difference in the customer experience. Recognize the “behind-the-scenes” employees who don’t often get the spotlight shined on the fine work they do for customers.

Do talent rotations

Walk in someone else’s shoes for a day by shadowing a machine operator, taking on a project in another department, or accepting a short-term assignment in a different part of your organization. The best career paths are the ones that zigzag across an organization rather than strictly up or down.

Create a unifying metric

It’s so important for an organization to be unified in its focus on achieving one unifying metric. Create a metric like customer satisfaction or effort score so that everyone understands it and knows what role they play in achieving it. Then reward employees for achieving it each month.

Now more than ever as we begin to emerge from the pandemic, we’ve learned that every employee and every colleague has a role in achieving a better CX for your organization. Everyone is dependent on the other to deliver on our customer commitments.