Report: State of Employee Engagement Activities, 2014

Purchase reportWe 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.

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Here are results from companies that completed Temkin Group’s Employee Engagement Competency and Maturity Assessment::

1407_EECompetencies

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The bottom line: Companies need to pay more attention to employee engagement

Nadella Pushes Microsoft to Rediscover Its Soul

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 LeadershipActivated Middle ManagementGrassroots Mobilization and Captivating Communications.

EET2

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.

CX Transformation Lacks Middle Manager Activation

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::

  • Vision TranslationConnect Employees with the Vision. The organization clearly defines and conveys not only what the future state is, but why moving away from the current state is imperative for the organization, its employees, and its customers.
  • Persistent LeadershipAttack Ongoing Obstacles. Leaders realize that change is a long-term journey and commit to working together until the organization has fully embedded the transformation into its systems and processes.
  • Activated Middle Management: Enlist Key Influencers. Middle managers are invested in the transformation and understand their unique role in supporting their employees’ change journeys.
  • Grassroots MobilizationEmpower Employees to Change. Frontline employees operate in an environment where they help to shape and are enabled to deliver the change.
  • Captivating CommunicationsShare Impactful, Informative Messages. The organization shares information about the change through a variety of means that balance both the practical and the inspirational elements for each target audience.

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.

1407_MiddleManagementActivation

The bottom line: Don’t forget to activate your middle managers!

 

5 Rules To Stop Employees From Gaming Your Feedback System

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:

  1. Don’t mention or refer to a score. You can not ask a customer to give you a score or mention any possible option on the survey.
    • Example of bad behavior: “Let me know if you can’t give me an excellent on any of the questions.”
  2. Don’t mention specific survey questions. You can not tell a customer about a specific question that they will be asked as part of the survey.
    • Example of bad behavior: “You will be asked to rate me on my knowledge.”
  3. Don’t mention any consequences. You can’t tell a customer about the positive or negative consequences that you or the organization will have based on the feedback that the customer gives.
    • Example of bad behavior: “If you give us a low score, then we will not make our bonus.”
  4. Don’t say or imply that you will see their responses. You can’t let the customer know that you will see the specific information that they put in their feedback.
    • Example of bad behavior: “I look forward to reading your responses.”
  5. Don’t intimidate customers in any way. Any attempt to affect how customers will respond in their feedback, or keep them from completing the survey, whether implicitly or explicitly, is not allowed.
    • Example of bad behavior: “Let’s grab a Cubs game after you fill out the survey.”
    • Example of bad behavior: “Don’t bother filling out the survey, the company doesn’t look at them.”

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.

Three Steps For Happiness to Fuel Organizational Empathy

Over the last couple of months, I’ve delivered several keynote speeches. In many of them, I’ve discussed organizational empathy (often as an element within People-Centric Experience Design). One of my key messages is that happiness creates empathy.

EmpathyHappyAs shown in the blog post Happy People Are More Productive Employees, happy people are more empathetic. So how do you take advantage of this information?

Here are my three simple steps:

  1. Be Happy. If you’re not happy, then you won’t have much capacity to think about other people, employees or customers. So how do I recommend being happy? By being grateful. A growing body of research shows that the act of being grateful actually makes people happy. So take some time every day to focus on the things that you are grateful for.
  2. Hire Happy People. Your organization probably screens employee candidates for professional experience, skills, and maybe even cultural fit. But those only tell a portion of the story about successful employees. If you want to build organizational empathy, screen candidates to make sure they are typically happy. Another way to say this is: Don’t hire unhappy people.
  3. Keep Employees Happy. HR processes focus a lot on hiring, firing, reviewing, and adjusting employees’ titles and compensation. But these are not the key drivers of employee happiness. What does motivate employees? Four intrinsic rewards: The sense of meaningfulness, choice, competence, and progress. Make sure that you focus on providing those things to your employees.

The bottom line: Happiness drives empathy.

Don’t F*ck Up The Culture, Says Airbnb CEO

Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb recently wrote a post, Don’t Fuck Up the Culture. It’s a note that he sent to all of the Airbnb employees. It’s a good, short read. Here’s an excerpt:

Culture is a thousand things, a thousand times. It’s living the core values when you hire; when you write an email; when you are working on a project; when you are walking in the hall. We have the power, by living the values, to build the culture. We also have the power, by breaking the values, to fuck up the culture.

My take: Chesky is absolutely correct. Culture is a manifestation of an organization’s true values and it shows up in a myriad of ways. It can be an invaluable asset when it’s good and an insurmountable obstacle when it’s bad. It aligns the thinking and actions of employees in ways that are even more powerful than controls and measurement.

I’ve been writing about this topic for a while, so I went back into the Customer Experience Matters way-back machine and found three very relevant blog posts from 2008:

In Inspiration Trumps Coercion And Motivation, I included what I believe is a seminal quote on the topic from Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines:

If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don’t need control. They know what needs to be done and they do it. And the more that people will devote themselves to your cause on a voluntary basis, a willing basis, the fewer hierarchies and control mechanisms you need.

In Discussing Zappos’ Culture With Tony Hsieh, I write about my interview with Zappos’ CEO. Here are a few of the takeaways from that discussion:

  • Tony doesn’t want to prescribe actions for employees that show how much Zappos cares about customers; he wants employees to do things because they genuinely care about customers.
  • Zappos uses its culture as a reason to hire and fire people. All new hire candidates have a separate interview with the HR department that focuses just on cultural fit.
  • Tony offers this advice to Zappos employees: It’s completely up to you guys. I can’t force the culture to happen; so part of your job description is to display and inspire the culture.

In Management Imperative #1: Invest In Culture As A Corporate Asset, I offered four ideas about how execs can manage their corporate culture assets. Here’s the first one on the list:

Track employee goodwill. When companies buy other companies, they often account for part of the price as “goodwill;” acknowledging that items like brand name and competitive positioning can be long-term assets. Following this approach, companies should track “employee goodwill.” How? By surveying employees and reporting the results like you report the balance sheet; analyzing quarterly snapshots and changes over time. Think about creating a metric from  questions like “How committed are you to helping the company achieve it’s mission and objectives?” “How likely are you to recommend this company as a place to work to your family and friends?

I also feel the need to point to a blog post from 2009, Fundamental Flaws In Management Education. This post discusses a fantastic article written by Sumantra Ghoshal, a leading business thinker. Here’s an excerpt:

Unlike theories in physical science, theories in social science tend to be self-fulfilling. A management theory that catches hold, therefore, can change the behavior of managers who act in accordance with that theory. As Ghoshal states, “the “scientific” approach of trying to discover patterns and laws have replaced all notion of human intentionality with a firm belief in causal determinism for explaining all aspects of corporate performance.” In other words, the belief that management is a social science has removed any humanistic traits (like corporate culture) from the equation about what drives corporate performance.

The bottom line: Don’t f*ck up your culture

Report: The State of Customer Experience Management, 2014

1404_TheStateOfCX2014_COVERWe just published a Temkin Group report, The State of CX Management, 2014. It examines the CX efforts within more than 200 large companies. Here’s the executive summary:

We surveyed more than 200 large companies and found an abundance of Customer Experience (CX) ambition and activity. Most companies have a CX executive leading the charge, a central team coordinating significant CX activities, and a staff of six to 10 full-time CX professionals. Using Temkin Group’s CX competency assessment, we found that only 10% of companies have reached the highest two levels of customer experience, although this does represent a slight increase from last year. Most firms struggle most to master Employee Engagement and Compelling Brand Values. When compared with CX laggards, CX leaders have stronger financial results, enjoy better CX leadership, and implement more successful employee engagement efforts. Executives in companies with stronger CX competencies also tend to focus more on delighting customers and less on cutting costs.

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The percentage of large organizations that have reached the two highest levels of customer experience maturity has grown from 6% in 2013 to 10% this year. During the same period, the percentage of companies in the lowest level of maturity has dropped from 40% to 31%.

1404_CXMaturity

Here are some additional findings from the research:

  • Companies with good or very good ratings in Purposeful Leadership rose from 39% to 45%, the largest improvement for any customer experience competency.
  • The research also revealed a significant focus on improvement. While only 6% of companies believe that their organization currently delivers industry-leading customer experience, 58% have a goal to be an industry-leader within three years.
  • Sixty-five percent of companies have a senior executive in charge of customer experience.
  • More than half of companies have at least six full-time customer experience professionals.
  • Almost two-thirds of respondents rate customer experience with phone agent as good or very good, the highest rated interaction. Less than 30% rate mobile phone and cross-channel experiences at that level.
  • The top obstacle to customer experience is the same as it has been for four years, “other competing priorities.”
  • We compared companies that have strong customer experience maturity with those that are weaker and found that customer experience leaders have better financial results, have more senior executive commitment, and focus more on their organization’s culture.

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The bottom line: Most companies are in early stages of CX maturity, but are getting better

Happy People Are More Productive Employees

I recently read an interesting article in Fast Company called Happy Workers Are More Productive: Science Proves It which discusses a UK study of 713 people. The findings make sense and match what we’ve seen, so I decided to do an analysis with our datasets.

Happiness is an element of our Temkin Well-Being Index, so we have a lot of data on it. I dug into our Q3 2013 Temkin Group Consumer Benchmark Study to examine the connection between happiness and productivity for more than 5,000 U.S. consumers. To identify “happy people” we selected the full-time employees who said that they are “always” or “almost” always happy. Our analysis compares those people to other full-time employees who report that they are less frequently happy. As you can see in the chart below:

  • Happy people go out of their way more for their employers
  • Happy employees try harder
  • Happy people take less sick time

1404_HappinessVsProductivityThe bottom line: Hire happy people and keep them happy!

 

 

Report: Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, 2014

1403_EEBenchmarkStudy14_COVERWe just published a Temkin Group report, Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, 2014. This is the third year that we’ve published the benchmark of U.S. employees. (Take a look at our Employee Engagement Resource Page).

Here’s the executive summary:

We used the Temkin Employee Engagement Index to analyze the engagement levels of more than 5,000 U.S. employees, and we found that employee engagement has decreased over last year. As highly engaged employees try harder, recommend the company, help others, and take less sick time, this trend should be troubling for companies. However, employee engagement levels vary across different organizations, industries, and individuals. Companies that outperform their peers in financial performance and customer experience enjoy a considerably more engaged work force. Our research also shows that the real estate sector has the most engaged employees of any industry, while public administration has the fewest.  Additionally, we found that highly engaged employees tend to be frontline employees, high-income earners, and male. Given the significant value of engaged employees, we recommend that companies improve this area by using our Five I’s of Employee Engagement: Inform, Inspire, Instruct, Involve, and Incent.

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Here’s what we found when we examined year-over-year results for the Temkin Employee Engagement Index:

1403_TEEI14

Here are some other findings from the research:

  • When compared with disengaged employees, highly engaged employees are more than three times as likely to do something good for their employer even if it’s not expected of them, almost three times as likely to make a recommendation about an improvement at work, more than 2.5 times as likely to stay late at work if something needs to be done, and more than two times as likely to help someone else at work.
  • Companies that have significantly better customer experience than their peers have almost 2.5 times the percentage of highly or moderately engaged compared with companies with customer experience that lags their competitors.
  • Companies that have significantly better financial performance than their peers have more than 1.5 times the percentage of highly or moderately engaged compared with companies with financial performance that lags their competitors.
  • Temkin Group found the largest decline in engagement with the youngest group of employees in the study, those between 18 and 24 years old.
  • About 60% of employees in companies with 100 employees or less are moderately or highly engaged compared with only 49% of employees at companies with more than 10,000 employees.
  • We examined employee engagement across 14 industries. At the high-end, 72% of employees in the real estate, rental and leasing industry are moderately or highly engaged. At the bottom of the list, 44% of employees in public administration are moderately or highly engaged.
  • Fifty-nine percent of employees that always interact with customers are at least moderately engaged while only 42% of employees that never interact with customers are equally engaged.
  • Nearly 80% of executives are at least moderately engaged, compared with only 46% of individual contributors.
  • Across all age groups except for those older than 64, males are equally or more engaged than females. The largest gender gap is with 25- to 34-year-olds.

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The bottom line: Improving employee engagement remains a key opportunity for organizations

Customer Experience Leadership Requires Engaged Employees

One of the Six Laws of Customer Experience is “Unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers.” That’s why Employee Engagement is one of Temkin Group’s four customer experience core competencies. To help make this point very clear, I tapped into the data from our upcoming report, Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, 2014 (see last year’s report).

As you can see in the following chart with data from more than 5,000 full time employees in the U.S., customer experience leaders have significantly more engaged employees than do customer experience laggards. When compared with companies that have CX worse than their competitors, companies with significantly better CX have 3.5 times as many highly engaged employees and less than 1/4 as many disengaged employees.

1402_CXvsEEThe bottom line: To sustain great CX, you must have engaged employees.

Report: Introducing Employee-Engaging Transformation

1402_EET_COVERWe just published a Temkin Group report, Introducing Employee-Engaging Transformation. This is a must-read for anyone who is trying to drive sustainable change across their organization. Here’s the executive summary:

Organizations have ambitious goals for improving their customer experience (CX). But CX change isn’t easy; it requires significant transformation across almost every aspect of operations. Therefore, given the effort required, it’s no surprise that Temkin Group research shows that less than half of large organizations rate their CX improvement efforts as effective. Our research into how large organizations successfully change uncovered a core insight: CX change must be focused on changing the way employees do their every-day jobs. We have developed an approach to CX change that we call Employee-Engaging Transformation (EET), which we define as, “Aligning employee attitudes and behaviors with the organization’s desire to change.” There are five practices required to succeed at EET: Vision Translation, Persistent Leadership, Activated Middle Management, Grassroots Mobilization, and Captivating Communications. This research shares examples of these practices in action from over a dozen large organizations, including Adobe, MetLife, Oklahoma City Thunder, Oracle, Prime Therapeutics, and Rackspace. To assess your own organization’s effectiveness in these five practices, use Temkin Group’s Employee-Engaging Transformation Assessment.

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Based on our research, we developed an approach to CX change that we call Employee-Engaging Transformation (EET). We define EET as:

Aligning employee attitudes and behaviors with the organization’s desire to change.

EET2

EET represents a significant shift from how most organizations currently approach their change initiatives. To succeed with EET, organizations must master five practices:

  • Vision Translation: Connect Employees with the Vision. The organization clearly defines and conveys not only what the future state is, but why moving away from the current state is imperative for the organization, its employees, and its customers.
  • Persistent Leadership: Attack Ongoing Obstacles. Leaders realize that change is a long-term journey and commit to working together until the organization has fully embedded the transformation into its systems and processes.
  • Activated Middle Management: Enlist Key Influencers. Middle managers are invested in the transformation and understand their unique role in supporting their employees’ change journeys.
  • Grassroots Mobilization: Empower Employees to Change. Frontline employees operate in an environment where they help to shape and are enabled to deliver the change.
  • Captivating Communications: Share Impactful, Informative Messages. The organization shares information about the change through a variety of means that balance both the practical and the inspirational elements for each target audience.

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The bottom line: Transformation requires employees to change what they do day-to-day

Compensation Doesn’t Drive Employee Engagement

As part of our recent consumer benchmark, we examined a number of attitudes and behaviors of more than 5,000 U.S. employees. One of the things we analyzed is what makes people want to do something good for their company even if it’s not expected of them.

To understand this dynamic, we looked at seven attitudes employees have towards their employers. It turns out that compensation is not the strongest driver of this behavior and it may even be one of the weakest. Instead of trying to gain employees’ engagement solely with pay increases, leaders should look at sharing the gift of intrinsic rewards. As you can see in the figure below:

  • Employees who periodically receive unexpected rewards are the most likely to do something good and unexpected for their employer.
  • Employees who don’t think they are contributing to the success of the company are the least likely to do something good and unexpected for their employer. Employees who feel like they are contributing are 39 points more likely to do something good (the largest gap).
  • Employees who believe that they are compensated fairly are only eight points more likely to do something good than those who do not (the smallest gap).

DoSomethingGoodThe bottom line: Don’t rely on compensation to motivate employees

A&W Canada Sparks Customer Empathy With Real-Time Feedback

I recently had a discussion with Nancy Wuttunee, Senior Director Operating Excellence at A&W Food Services of Canada, about a new feedback system the company is using in its restaurants. The approach is a great example of Guiding with Empathy, one of the principles of People-Centric Experience Design (PCxD).

A&W Canada uses a vendor named Benbria to help it collect feedback via in-store kiosks and a mobile app, displaying the results in real time to employees behind the counter. Customers are asked to give a thumbs-up or thumbs down to three questions:

  • Was your food hot and tasty?
  • Was the service fast and friendly?
  • Was the restaurant clean?

AWCanadaBenbria

Wuttunee is very encouraged by the results of the system, which was initially piloted at six company-owned stores in Ottawa, and is now in 50 locations and is being rolled out to all of its 800 restaurants. She told me “We’re calling it “Guest Connect,” and that’s what it’s giving to us. The front room employees already have the conversations, but this lets the kitchen stay focused on the guest experience as well.”

One of the surprises that Wuttunee described is that the stores get a lot more thumbs-up than thumbs-down. Unlike normal feedback sources that are often negatively based, this system captures a lot of positive sentiment. So the company built a culture that welcomes a thumbs-down as an opportunity to use the information for improvement.

Here’s what intrigued me about A&W Canada’s approach to sparking customer empathy:

  • A simple real-time scorecard. Customers are asked to rate three things and the number of thumbs ups and thumbs down are listed on the board for employees to see. There’s no trending or advanced analytics, employees can see how customers are viewing their efforts in an ongoing way­­—and use their judgment in making adjustments. The scoreboard is reset at the beginning of each day.
  • No goals or incentives. Companies often jump at the opportunity to slap incentives on every customer measurement, but A&W Canada has resisted the temptation. There are no specific goals attached to these scores, they are just used for employees to understand the experiences of their customers.
  • Behind the scenes management. The daily data feeds aren’t just forgotten, as management receives daily reports. Data and trends are analyzed to spot potential issues at specific stores or during specific shifts as well as to identify successful stores that might have practices worth sharing.
  • Consistency with the overall culture. Wuttunee explained that, “A&W Canada has a climate in the restaurant where employees feel valued and feel like they are members of a team.” So this program is not an isolated “gimmick” to engage employees. The company has an extensive focus on employee engagement, which is demonstrated in its “Climate Goals,” the following seven behaviors that the company believes are required to achieve its mission:

1) I constantly find ways to create an excellent and delightful experience for each of our guests.
2) We listen to understand each other.
3) I invite and share feedback that enables us to improve.
4) I embrace change and actively support innovation.
5) We work together as partners pursuing common goals and shared success.
6) We use our differences as a source of creativity and learning.
7) I recognize and celebrate our big and small wins.

The bottom line: Help employees hear the voice of your customers

Job Switchers Want A Better Work Environment

Why do employees look for new jobs? We decided to dig into that question in our recent consumer survey. Our study of more than 5,000 U.S. employees showed that two-third of employees are most likely to leave for a higher paycheck. But as you can see in the slide below, those who are actively looking for a job cite different reasons for leaving than those who are not.

We examined two groups of employees, those who are very likely to look for a new job and those who are not very likely to look for a new job. The job seekers are much less likely to say that they are leaving for higher pay. They are also 2.5x more likely to leave because of their work environment and twice as likely to leave for a better boss.

1311_EmployeeReasonsForLeavingThe bottom line: Why are your employees leaving?

PCxD Principle #2: Guide with Empathy

I recently introduced a concept for enlisting the support of employees that uncovers and fulfills the needs of customers that we call People-Centric Experience Design (PCxD), defined as:

Fostering an environment that creates positive, memorable human encounters

PCxD

Principle #2: Guide with Empathy

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “empathy” as “the ability to imagine oneself in another’s place and understand the other’s feelings, desires, ideas, and actions.” It turns out that most people have an innate ability to be empathetic. While people may want to help others, they are—as we describe in the Six Laws of Customer Experience—self-centered, naturally viewing the world and making decisions based on their internal perspective.

As employees, people tend to have a unique frame of reference which often includes a deeper than average understanding of their company’s products, organizational structure, and operating processes. If left unchecked, decisions will reflect this frame of reference, leading to products and interactions that often don’t meet the needs of customers who have less interest and less insight into these details of the company.

Organizational dynamics add another barrier to empathy. While a typical customer interaction cuts across many functional groups (a single purchase, for instance, may include contact with decisions by product management, sales, marketing, accounts payable, and legal organizations), companies push employees to stay focused on their functional areas. This myopic view is often reinforced by incentives focused on narrow domains, which creates a chasm between empathy and personal success.

Empathy1

Here are some ideas for guiding with empathy:

  • Refer to customers as people, not data. Your data may show that your average customer is 57% female, have 1.7 children, own 1.3 cars, and lives 62% in the suburbs, but that does not describe any real person. To spark empathy, it’s important to talk about customers in a way that employees can relate to them. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan created three “Design Personas” (Mike, Grace, and Lisa) that provide a “face” to key customer segments. Using a self-guided layout and navigation, employees were taken through these customer persona scenarios, exposed to their pain points, and informed of new and ongoing improvement initiatives.
  • Examine your customer’s journey. To overcome siloed internal perspectives, examine how customers go about their lives and just happen to interact with you. This requires qualitative (often ethnographic) research with your target customers. Companies often use customer journey maps to capture this information. These artifacts can help employees across different roles and functions to understand how customers perceive the company. Genworth Financial reviews customer journey maps as part of its new employee onboarding process.
  • Discuss customer feedback…often. Don’t just examine customer feedback on a monthly or quarterly basis; embed it into your day-to-day activities. Every day, prior to the start of their shift, Apple retail employees get together and review feedback from clients who had recently interacted with the store. This daily huddle keeps customers’ needs top of mind.
  • Spread customers’ actual words. There’s something powerful about hearing what customers are thinking in their own voice. Charles Schwab organizes verbatims by themes and topics and then puts them in the hands of the appropriate people across the company. The result: thousands of people read the verbatims including every branch and call center team. Adobe created a Customer Listening Post, which is an immersive room where executives and employees across the company can listen to live calls and review chats with customers.
  • Assume that customers will be confused. After spending many hours per week talking about their company’s products, processes, and organization during work, employees are naturally prone to expect customers to have that same level of understanding. They don’t. This situation often leads to language and processes that customers find confusing. Since this is a natural bias, it can’t be eliminated. However, it can be neutralized if you get into the habit of asking the question: “Would our target customers fully understand this?” Cigna used this concept to drive its “Words We Use” campaign to eliminate confusing language in all of its customer communications.
  • Raise awareness of customer’s emotional state. You can raise empathy by encouraging employees to think about how they make customers feel. Every time a customer interacts with your company, they have a range of emotional reactions. We’ve identified five distinct emotions: angry, agitated, ambivalent, appreciative, and adoring. Why not have your front line employees keep a checklist for identifying which of the five emotions customers have after an interaction. This can be a valuable coaching tool.
  • Empower random acts of kindness. Create an environment that encourages employees to go out of their way for customers. Ritz-Carlton entrusts every single staff member, without approval from their general manager, to spend up to $2,000 on a guest. Disney trains its staff on a program called Take Five. Cast members (employees) are expected to take five minutes from their normal daily duties to do something special for their guests; they call it being aggressively friendly.

The bottom line: Unleash your employees’ natural empathy

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