Four Disruptions That Will Change Your Employee and Customer Experience

Trend tracking is an integral business tool that can give companies a leg-up on their competition, help predict areas of growth, and gain insight into the minds of consumers. With 2016 in the rear-view, now is the time to focus on ways to advantageously position your company for success. Here are four disruptions organizations need to prepare for, as they will change employee and customer experiences.

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Tidal Waves Of Change: Political, organizational, and social change have never been more pivotal or closely linked than they are today–causing the line between professional and personal lives to blur. Today, consumers expect the brands they buy from to reflect their values, and they will vote with their wallet to condemn those that don’t. Employees, too, are experiencing the impact of social change within the workplace. Organizations that are strategically prepared to deal with change, both within the industry and the communities where they operate, will be better equipped to navigate tomorrow.

Forget Bloggers – Employees Are The Biggest Influencers: “Employees they know” is ranked #2 for consumers as a trusted resource when making purchasing decisions, which has a direct impact on the customer experience. Yet the majority of companies are not engaging their employees to be social brand ambassadors. Not only is creating compelling messaging and seamless sharing critical to leveraging employees as brand ambassadors, organizations must also focus on creating great places of work and a strong purpose that connects to the customer experience, ensuring that messages ring authentic.

Centralization Is Not Always The Answer: The benefits are clear–it’s efficient, it keeps an organization lean, and ensures a central, uniform experience. It’s also not for everyone. From regional autonomy to full centralization, there is a full range of organizational models in between that may be more realistic or better suited for your business. First up: Get your leaders in the room and identify where you are currently, and where you want to be. The dissonance may surprise you.

Data Is Great But What Do You Do With It?: 3 out of 10 jobs available in America currently involve data mining, reflecting the desire to harness valuable insights buried underneath intimidating volumes of information. Organizations should seek to link customer needs and employee capabilities and experiences by identifying gaps in the service their brand provides, how it’s supported, how customers experience them; and creating actionable strategies to close the divide.

Unlock Your Most Powerful Reputation Asset: Your Employees

Many refer to today’s corporate landscape as the “reputation economy,” with consumer decisions becoming increasingly dependent on online reviews and opinion leaders. We believe the same is happening within many corporations, where opinions are being formed not only by a combination of influencers, media, pundits and activists, but also through interactions with a brand’s most powerful reputation asset: its employees.

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Our reputation management offering, Reputation by Permission, recognizes that more than ever before, a company’s reputation is being shaped by its stakeholders. And companies that remain ardently committed to terms like control, protect, safeguard, and manage are doomed to fail in today’s world of citizen journalism and instantaneous news.

Looking at reputation through the lens of stakeholders’ perspectives must be the first brick in the foundation of a successful reputation management program. To modernize the approach, companies can no longer judge the status of their reputation solely through the eyes of their corporate leadership. The Reputation by Permission paradigm demands an unbiased (often fearless) look at how a company is perceived by its professionals, and requires a concise strategy to move its reputation forward from where it is now, to where it needs to be.

Perhaps most importantly, companies must look within at the perception, sentiment and discussion among employees and engage in discussions about the company, brand, and products and services.

Here are four steps to better engage employees and harness one of the most critical assets of any company:

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1. Undertake a deep, sincere and regular assessment about how employees feel about the culture, leadership and company.
If the people a company pays every day to act and serve on your behalf are not celebrating the culture built, the innovative products and services offered, and the positive impact it has on customers and communities, why would external stakeholders?

2. Enhance how employee engagement and sentiment is being monitored.
If a company is relying solely on annual assessments of employee attitudes, it will have no leverage in winning the hearts and minds of employees where pride, inspiration and loyalty are determined on a day-to-day basis.

3. Ask for employees’ support.
All too often, companies hope that employees will say positive things about their experiences and perceptions about the company. Many employees do so but are not empowered with the permission, tools and direction to be the most effective advocates.

4. Be clear about the goal, supporting behaviors and actions.
Optimize the leadership skills and communication ecosystem in your company to help employees understand a brand’s purpose, aspiration and the role they play in helping to bring these to life each day. If they are not involved in creating that vision, their commitment may never reach the levels needed to build internal permission.

We’d love to hear how you engage your employees and earn the permission you need to succeed in today’s era of transparency. Feel free to leave a thought or question in the comments section below.

‘Feel the fear’ – authentic leadership in times of change

The UK election highlighted that being seen as an effective leader is a key factor for success. The search is now on for opposition parties to elect new leaders to change their parties’ fortunes.

Over the past three years, there has been a decline in people’s view of leaders. In 2014, just 22% of respondents in Ketchum’s Leadership Communication Monitor said leaders are demonstrating effective leadership, down from 25% in 2013.

Amplifying this issue, a recent Harvard Business Review study ranks strong executive leadership as one of the top three factors for business success.

So what makes for an effective leader in times of change?

Research by the Institute of Employment Studies shows authentic leadership as the most effective route to inspire followership and action.

Authentic leaders always portray a version of their ‘real self’. In doing so, they inspire loyalty amongst their staff who want a leader who is genuine, transparent and trustworthy.

This isn’t easy. As humans, we possess many beliefs about the world and ourselves; and when we face major decisions these beliefs can clash. This results in a psychological state of tension known as cognitive dissonance. The experience of dissonance is unpleasant, because we feel conflicted and torn between the choices we face. The natural reaction is to attempt to reduce or eliminate this conflict, and achieve consonance (i.e. self-agreement and conviction).

Leaders are no exception. When a leader adapts his or her attitude or behaviour to reduce cognitive dissonance, employees can interpret this as inauthenticity which can damage trust.

In effect, great leaders accept cognitive dissonance and ‘feel the fear’.

So how can we learn to ‘feel the fear’? Daggerwing works with leaders to unpick uncomfortable truths allowing them to:

  • Understand that they can choose to act differently, and this new behaviour can in turn modify their attitude
  • Recognise the moments or events that trigger them where dissonance is at play and break to cycle

By proactively managing their attitude and ability to lead change authentically, leaders are able to bring others through change successfully.

The new opposition party leaders will face many challenges ahead. If they can learn to ‘feel the fear’ and be authentic in their actions, they are more likely to succeed in gaining both their colleagues’ and the public’s followership and trust.

Liquid Change in Latin America: BRICS, Mortars and Frontiers

We recently had the pleasure of meeting with friends and colleagues at our offices in Argentina and Brazil. While on my trip, by way of some great opportunities arranged by our gracious hosts, we had the opportunity to take a closer look at the communications and change management landscape of the region.

The world has turned its eyes towards Latin America, and for good reason. With rich histories, abundant resources and dynamic economies, it’s now a pivotal time for businesses to maximize their growth in the region if they hope to adapt to the pace and nuances of each market.

Here are a few of my observations on communication opportunities that exist in this space, particularly in areas that are experiencing more rapid change than their European and US counterparts.

1. Reaching the Next Stage of Maturity
Argentina’s Frontier economy and Brazil’s BRIC economy are both experiencing shifts that are modernizing the landscape of the markets. As industries continue to grow, change management and highly effective internal communications are particularly important to businesses focusing on how they operate, allocate resources and achieve new stages of growth.

2. Setting a High Bar
With a large number of multinational businesses in both Brazil and Argentina, it’s clear that there are tremendous advantages for global organizations to continue building a presence by investing in advanced workforce and talent infrastructures that support and attract the best people. As the products, brands and reputations of these businesses rapidly evolve from local to global, organizations must maintain local expertise and agile communications while bolstering their talent capabilities.

3. Scaling Excellence
Brazil is home to 75 unique cultures and a geographic footprint larger than India. With such a large and diverse landscape, companies have a unique opportunity to tap into enormous employee enthusiasm and regional pride, creating dynamic cultures that drive productivity, growth and consumer confidence. The first step should be to actively shape a high-performance culture by harnessing the potential of sophisticated internal communications and compelling employee value propositions (EVP). Look to develop a system that instinctively reacts to market changes, rewards innovative thinking and is dialed-in to the local environment.

4. Break Through with Creativity and Innovation
As businesses navigate fluctuating economies, regulatory environments and political parties, it’s more important than ever to harness employees’ creativity and innovation. Creating a work environment that rewards new ideas and breaks down traditional hierarchies and siloes, so brilliant ideas from anywhere can be turned into innovative actions and products, will help businesses develop a clear advantage.

As companies both big and small look to cultivate future-proof organizations in this exciting region, they will need to deftly handle the unique challenges within each market. It’s clear that for local organizations, having a strong internal communications foundation built into their rapid expansion plans will help them compete within the global landscape, while global brands can benefit from a change system that helps them become more nimble and tap into the nuances and unique challenges in each market. For both, having ‘Liquid Change’ organizations will be crucial as the world’s attention is increasingly drawn toward Latin America.