June 30, 2014
There’s still room in Temkin Group’s hands-on workshop in Boston on July 31 & August 1. Learn how to drive CX transformation in your organization.
Connecting Brands, Leaders, Employees, and Customers
July 22, 2014 Leave a comment
We just published a Temkin Group report, State of Employee Engagement Activities, 2014. This is the second year that we’ve benchmarked the employee engagement efforts within large organizations. Here’s the executive summary:
Although engaged employees are a vital component of any successful organization, we have found that only 50% of employees at large organizations feel engaged. To understand how companies are working to improve these engagement levels, we surveyed executives from more than 200 large organizations. We found that frontline employees are the most engaged, and that while most firms do measure employee engagement, less than half prioritize taking actions based on the results. The lack of a clear employee engagement strategy contributes to the fact that only 19% of companies earned a strong or very strong score on the Temkin Group Employee Engagement Competency Assessment. Employee engagement leaders enjoy stronger financial results and deliver better customer experience than employee engagement laggards, and they also have more coordinated engagement activities, more empowered CX teams, and more committed executives. Compared to 2013, this year more companies have significant employee engagement activities, but overall these activities are performed less frequently. Use our assessment and data to benchmark your employee engagement competencies and maturity.
Here are results from companies that completed Temkin Group’s Employee Engagement Competency and Maturity Assessment::
The bottom line: Companies need to pay more attention to employee engagement
July 17, 2014 2 Comments
When Ryan Block tried to cancel his Comcast service, he ran into a customer interaction from hell. The call was so bad that he recorded part of it and posted it online. The insanity of the conversation has driven it viral.
My take: I don’t think that the problem is a mis-trained rep, which is what Comcast claimed in its official response. Block is one of many, many people who have suffered through painful interactions with Comcast. The company “earned” the bottom two spots in the 2014 Temkin Customer Service Ratings, falling well below 231 other organizations. This type of pervasive problem stems from systemic issues, not from how a specific rep behaves.
While Comcast is the worst offender, bad customer service is an epidemic across the entire telecom sector, especially in TV service and Internet service. So Comcast is merely the worst of a bad bunch.
The problem with the firms in these industries is that most of them grew up with geographic monopoly power. Without any viable competitors, their operating cultures focused on exploiting customers, not on satisfying them. As competition increased, they reacted poorly by starting a frenzy to acquire new customers and then doing whatever they can to entrap those customers.
Here are three recommendations for the entire telecom industry:
The bottom line: Telecom firms need to build loyalty, not acquire customers.
July 14, 2014 1 Comment
In a letter to all Microsoft employees called Starting FY15 – Bold Ambition & Our Core, CEO Satya Nadella established a mandate and vision for significant change across the technology behemoth.
Microsoft has great assets, but it has not kept up with changes in how people use technology. The Redmond giant was becoming increasingly less relevant in a world where digital technology is becoming more relevant.
Microsoft has needed to change for a while. There’s a saying that the best time to plant a tree is ten years ago and the second best time is right now. Nadella has made it clear that Microsoft’s time for change is right now.
My take: First of all, it’s hard to talk about any large-scale culture change without recommending that people review our model called Employee-Engaging Transformation, which is built on five practices: Vision Translation, Persistent Leadership, Activated Middle Management, Grassroots Mobilization and Captivating Communications.
We work with many of the world’s leading technology companies, so I could go on and on about what changes are necessary at Microsoft. But I’d rather examine broader lessons from Nadella’s letter. Here are some excerpts that I thought were particularly valuable to discuss:
“...in order to accelerate our innovation, we must rediscover our soul – our unique core“
Successful companies almost always start with a strong raison d’être, but it can get lost as the company grows and the world changes (see my post on Starbucks). Without a “soul,” companies drift along as employees across the organization start operating in a disconnected way. This is where the brand comes in. Companies need to constantly refresh their brands and make sure that the brand drives decisions across the organization (see my post on Walmart).
“More recently, we have described ourselves as a “devices and services” company. .. At our core, Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more.”
Our research shows that employees are more productive and engaged when they are inspired by their organization’s mission. Which one of these statements do you think is more inspiring: “We are the devices and service company” or “We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more.”
“We will create more natural human-computing interfaces that empower all individuals.”
This is a comment about technology, but its also points to a broader commentary about making things easy to use. We have entered into a world where people have more options, more distraction, and less patience. Every organization needs to relentlessly focus on making their products, services, and processes easier for customers to use.
“Obsessing over our customers is everybody’s job. I’m looking to the engineering teams to build the experiences our customers love.“
What’s not to love about this excerpt. My customer experience manifesto (and Temkin Group, for that matter) is built on a fundamental belief that sustaining great customer experience is not about applying a veneer, but about building competencies across the entire organization that create great experiences for customers (see our four CX core competencies). Also, it’s interesting that Nadella used the word “love.” Experiences are made up of three component (functional, accessible, and emotional) and our Temkin Experience Ratings show that companies are weakest at driving the emotional component. To get people to “love” your company, I suggest applying what we call People-Centric Experience Design.
“I am committed to making Microsoft the best place for smart, curious, ambitious people to do their best work.”
One of the Six Laws of Customer Experience is that unengaged employees can’t create engaged customers. Any company looking to improve how it interacts with customers almost certainly needs to focus on its employees.
“We will be more effective in predicting and understanding what our customers need and more nimble in adjusting to information we get from the market.”
How companies use customer insights is changing rapidly. Technologies such as text analytics and predictive analytics are helping companies tap into more comprehensive and ongoing insights, rather than relying on periodic customer surveys. Ultimately, companies will need to reinvent their operating frameworks so that they can adjust more frequently to take advantage of these rapidly-flowing insights.
“Nothing is off the table in how we think about shifting our culture to deliver on this core strategy.”
This type of statement only works if it’s backed up by clear actions that employees can observe. These “symbols” of change need to be clear departures from how the company operated in the past, and can include reorganizations, firings/hirings/promotions/demotions, killing projects, accelerating projects, etc.). Don’t just say change is coming, demonstrate it (see the 3 characteristics of transformational leaders).
“We must each have the courage to transform as individuals. We must ask ourselves, what idea can I bring to life? What insight can I illuminate? What individual life could I change? What customer can I delight? What new skill could I learn? What team could I help build? What orthodoxy should I question?”
The notion of a personal challenge is a great way to help employees think about how they can be (and must be) a part of the change. But the questions won’t be too powerful if they are just statements in a letter from the CEO. Use these questions as part of discussions across the organization and embed them into leadership training and competency models.
The bottom line: Change isn’t easy, but Microsoft seems ready to give it a try.
July 11, 2014 1 Comment
In the Temkin Group report Introducing Employee-Engaging Transformation (EET), we defined five EET practices that companies must master if they want to successfully drive CX change across their organization::
The report includes an EET assessment, so we asked nearly 200 professionals from large organizations to answer the specific questions about Middle Management Activation. As you can see below, only about a third of companies effectively employe this practice when driving change.
The bottom line: Don’t forget to activate your middle managers!
July 7, 2014 2 Comments
When an employee asks a customer to “give me a 10 on a survey or I’ll get fired,” can you really count on the accuracy of that customer’s rating? This may be an extreme example of “gaming feedback,” but many versions of this behavior occur all the time.
To keep gaming feedback in check, it’s important to be explicit with employees about what the company considers to be unacceptable behaviors. Here are five rules that you should strictly enforce with employees:
Of course, keeping this bad behavior in check also requires the company to behave appropriately. The biggest mistake I see is tying too much compensation to a score. When you heavily incent a specific metric, employees will do whatever it takes to improve that metric, including “gaming” the system. Think about it, the heavier the compensation, the more you are implicitly asking the employee to improve the score at any cost (see why Staples employees stopped selling computers).
So make sure that your incentives are focused on driving the behaviors that you want from employees, not specific outcomes like scores.
The bottom line: Use feedback primarily to improve, not to keep score.
July 4, 2014 1 Comment
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
While not everyone who reads my blog is celebrating a holiday today, I hope that everyone can embrace the sentiment described in the famous line above from the U.S. Declaration of Independence. If we look through the mindset of the time and replace “men” with “all people,” then this sentence is a powerful blueprint for our collective well-being.
It’s interesting that one of the three unalienable Rights that the founders of the country chose to highlight is the “pursuit of happiness.” As it turns out, happiness is also one of the three items that we’ve included in the Temkin Well-Being Index (along with healthiness and financial security). After a dip in 2013, the happiness level of U.S. consumers increased in 2014.
Here are some of my other posts about happiness:
The bottom line: Have a very happy July 4th!