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.

Next-Gen Internal Comms: The New Frontier of Measurement

Advances in technology have made today’s employee more accessible than ever before. Facebook, Slack, Twitter, Snapchat—the biggest tech platforms in the world are all centered around communication and enabling organizations to connect internally in new ways. However, the impact of technology on internal communications has just as many disadvantages as benefits.

The traditional cascade communications model, where organizations send messages from the top down, is bordering on the archaic as today’s employees often find themselves inundated with messages from across an organization—making them harder to reach. Compound that with the ability to filter through messaging more easily and employee engagement is suffering. To combat this, organizations must not only re-evaluate their approach to communications, but also how the impact is measured.

Organizations must first get into a mindset where measurement is critical, and develop and deploy the tools and technology to monitor the channels in place to reach employees. By analyzing findings and identifying opportunities to improve communications, organizations can begin to make data-fueled decisions about the cadence, audiences and proper channels for strategic messaging.

Measurement comes in many forms, but the key to determining what works for an organization, from website analytics to comments on internal stories, is an analysis of the messaging’s tone. Many consultancies and tools exist out there to help with this but, in the meantime, here are the four fundamental questions we recommend leaders ask themselves when evaluating communications:internal-comms

  1. Where is the impact of the communications in real-time?
    More and more organizations set up Social Media Command Centers for teams to monitor, listen and draw insights from data and conversations in real time. Determining how to do the same type of real-time listening to employees is rapidly becoming a reality.
  1. Is the communication human-centered?
    You’ll often find truly happy customers are actually talking to truly empowered employees. Eurostar’s contact center handles an average of 16,500 calls and 3,000 emails every week. To ensure its service agents can spend less time on administration, and more time enriching customer experiences, Eurostar uses Service Cloud by Salesforce. Specifically, they use Salesforce Chatter, the enterprise social networking tool, to simplify information sharing and accelerate responses.
  1. How predicative and persuasive are your messages?
    We helped one of the Big 4 public accounting firms determine which internal communications messages, messengers and channels would lead to higher effectiveness so we could increase employee engagement firm-wide. Ask yourself, “Is this resonating with employees?”
  1. Is data being expressed through engaging and visual stories?
    In her Persuasion and the Power of Story video, Stanford University Professor of Marketing Jennifer L. Aaker explains that stories are meaningful when they are memorable, impactful and personal. In our work with a medical device company, we created visual representations of the personas of employees, the information that was most important to them, the barriers they faced in getting information, and the channels they used most frequently. Creating visual stories helped connect leaders and communicators to the data in an emotional way.

What’s your approach to measuring communication that matters most to employees?

Building Your Change GPS with Data You Already Have

Change has changed: a cliché but it’s true. Organizations are operating more fluidly using informal networks. This new behavior coupled with today’s pace and complexity of change means that companies need a data-driven approach to leading change. To understand this let’s take a look at how change management has evolved.

The Past: Leading Change Like Reading a Compass
Prior to the emergence of change theory in the late 20th Century there was little in the way of best practice. Leaders only knew the broad destination they were headed as most change was implementing tangible technologies and processes. It was like reading a compass: know the direction of travel and use your judgement and instinct to get there.

The Recent: Creating a Map for Change
Change theorists in the 1980s and 1990s suggested a series of approaches that represented an evolutionary step to codify what really works during times of change. This provided best practice techniques based on past evidence of success stories. It helped organizational development specialists create plans, in the same way a map provides the travel routes available from one place to another. This is the period of time when we began to understand that change is often over-managed and under-led, with too much focus on the map and not the destination.

The Now: Building a Change GPS
Today’s organizations challenge these approaches to change. Mainly because what these theories are based on is not immediately evident e.g. who are the real influencers, what are the barriers to change, and that there is often more than one path to success. The complexity of organizations, and the fact that change is now more continuous and volatile, makes planning around these insights exponentially more difficult.

What we need is a GPS for change: an active data-driven approach to predicting obstacles; identifying the best routes to take; and providing ongoing measurement and iteration. Let’s look at a typical change situation to bring this metaphor to life.

Implementing a New Organizational Strategy
New organizational strategies, and growing customer needs and expectations, often require new operating models and organizational capabilities. This places a large degree of change on the current workforce, some of whom may not fit the future state. Traditional change and workforce planning techniques have done a satisfactory job in ensuring business continuity. However, they have not consistently created an engaged and motivated workforce empowered to perform in the future state. This has an adverse impact on employee productivity and, ultimately, business performance.

How a Change GPS Can Help
The insight to prepare the workforce for the future state, and engage and enable them through the change, lies in data most organizations currently have or can easily collect. For example:

  • Employee sentiment towards the organizational culture
  • Leadership capability and style
  • Employee learning styles and motivations
  • Communications effectiveness

Much of this data already exists but it is seldom analyzed for change purposes. By collecting and analyzing this data before and throughout change we can create predictive models that identify many insights and trends. These include identifying:

  • Hidden influencers who can act as champions of the new strategy, using organizational network mapping
  • Predicted reactions to change, using typologies analytics, that will inform how to manage different employee groups
  • Engagement risks, so proactive action can be taken to sustain the engagement of critical employees
  • Change leadership development priorities aligned to the specific roles of leaders during change
  • The actions, from recruitment to learning, that will make sure employees are fully productive in the future state
  • Change adoption risks, identifying barriers to new ways of working and how to overcome them

This approach does not require perfect data, integrated databases, or shiny analytics systems. The “art in the science” is to take practical steps and make decisions on reasonable data that can provide a good degree of confidence. Over time these practical steps can be developed into a systemized ‘change GPS’.

So, how are you using the data you have on your colleagues to be more effective in a liquid change environment?