How can HR amplify customer experience activity?

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Tuesday 28th March RSVP Full day, Farnborough
Thursday 27th April RSVP Half day, London

For years now, we have known that the value proposition for employees is changing. While salary will always be a consideration, we are increasingly seeing the rise of fulfilment and purpose as important motivations for a workforce.

But can we even call them a workforce? Or are we just looking to employee people?

If customer experience activity is to bring about lasting change, the CX function must engage more effectively with Human Resources. The leaders in UK CX were combining customer and employee experiences several years ago by focusing on ‘people experience’, so this is not a new trend. But as experience increasingly becomes a key differentiator both within and outside organisations, there is a growing need to understand and fulfil the expectations of newer, younger employees in order to create a suitable value proposition.

This shift forces us to consider how we motivate people. While many companies have prided themselves in their pension scheme and their working environment, what behaviours do such considerations drive? And are they the behaviours that will drive the results we want?

At one extreme are companies with a frantic working environment – high pressure, high energy, and high stress. While some employees prefer this kind of environment and thrive in it, they know they will eventually burn out. At the other extreme we have the gigging economy, where workers are more concerned with flexibility and how much the role will strengthen their personal brand.

As experiences become the driving force of activity in organisations, there are opportunities for the CX function to become increasingly involved with the HR function. HR could well be the function within an organisation that is changing most quickly, and it is integral to the sustainability of all digital transformation initiatives. If companies are to deliver excellence in customer and digital experience, they must listen to the needs and expectations of new hires and learn how to respond effectively.

Discussions on this topic will focus on:

  • How can customer experience benefit from a closer relationship with HR?
  • How can we detect a changing landscape in our company?
  • How should we change our approach to recruitment?
  • How can HR help us bring about sustainable, lasting change?
  • How do we engage a broader range of employees in customer experience activity?

Book your place at the table to stay at the forefront of customer experience.

Digital is changing human experience, not just customer experience

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It’s increasingly evident that digital disruption is wreaking havoc across many sectors. But to understand how digital technology is changing customer experience, it’s useful to consider how digital is changing human experience in its entirety:

And my personal favourite:

I recently came across a story about gazeMetrix, an image recognition technology that scans photos online and uses social intelligence software to identify the context in which a particular product is most found. The implications of this are profound.

 

“It is becoming possible to search human experience in ways that have have not been possible before.”

 

This opens up a whole new frontier for our ability to understand how (and where) customers actually use products and services, and to engage with them in new and innovative ways. More importantly, it highlights how we need to think differently in response to the affordances of digital technologies.

This is why digital has to be at the heart of every customer engagement strategy, and increasingly every business model. If people are already talking about the ‘post-digital age’ in which digital technologies will become absorbed into the very fabric of our everyday lives, then the digital age is already firmly established.

 

Industrial Age vs Information Age mindset

 

But despite the rapid, radical digital transformation of human experience in the last ten years, many organisations remain stuck in an Industrial Age mindset. Gerry McGovern recently went as far as to say that the traditional organisation is not fit for purpose anymore, and that achieving a seamless customer experience is not possible without seamless organisations. Arguing that organisational models that encourage internal competition are no longer appropriate, McGovern highlights how internal silos create a disjointed customer experience that does not reflect the hyperconnected reality outside the organisation.

As far back as 2010, Harvard Professor Bill George highlighted that the challenges facing businesses today are “too complex to be solved by individuals or even single organizations”. George argues that “collaboration — within the organization and with customers, suppliers, and even competitors — is required to achieve lasting solutions”.

Digital has transformed human experience forever. Surviving the disruption of the Information Age requires a mindset that puts digital at the core of human – and customer – experience.

This article was co-written with Tony Reeves, Digital Research Lead (Customer Experience), The QoE.

Should we really put the customer first?

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Customer experience is not just about customers.

Improving customer experience requires a focus on more than just customer needs. If we put the needs of customers before everything else, we ignore the needs of all the other people involved in the delivery of customer experience.

The aim of ‘putting the customer first’ can be misleading as it often prevents a business from focusing on the poor experiences of employees and partners. And without addressing these issues, putting the customer first is unlikely to deliver a sustainable improvement in customer experience.

It’s good to finally see some high-level acknowledgement that improving customer experience involves moving beyond touchpoints and focusing on journeys. But my question is this: why stop at customer journeys? If customer experience represents the entirety of a customer’s interactions with a business, then there is a clear need to realign every business function in support of customer experience.

Everyone’s experience matters

McKinsey’s advice for CEOs to redesign the business from the customer back is encouraging. But doing this requires a deep understanding of the context-specific problems and work-arounds of everyone involved.

Using customer journeys to redesign organisations will only ever provide us with a limited understanding of the complex cross-functional problems that impact on customer experience. This is why we need to extend the journey further into the organisation to not only reveal the root causes of these problems but also engage with those responsible for delivery.

People Experience Journeys extend the customer journey into a business

By analysing the needs and experiences of customers, employees and partners, people experience journeys bring to light all the tensions and weak links that create obstacles to seamless customer experience. In doing so, they also reveal invaluable local knowledge and work-arounds that employees have developed to get around legacy structures and systems. Take this example:

 

Delivering a sustainable improvement in customer experience requires an understanding of the needs and experiences of everyone involved in a product or process. Viewing customer experience through the customer’s eyes isn’t enough, we need a real-world, real-time assessment of experiences across the business. Only then can we isolate and systematically address each need and experience to improve the resulting outcome for the customer.

Achieving exceptional customer experience won’t come from simply putting the customer first. It will come from an authentic evaluation of the needs of everyone who’s work has an impact on the customer.