How treating employees like customers can reap rewards.
Billions are spent every year to promote and protect consumer brands. But how much of that investment is targeted towards the people who can be the best ambassadors of that brand – a company’s employees?
Research from KPMG’s Nunwood’s Customer Experience Excellence Centre shows that employers that consistently perform well in customer ratings also tend to rank highly in league tables of great places to work. Their experience of working for those brands is as enriching for them as it is for their customers, which in turn has a positive impact on the bottom line.
HR’s role, therefore, is increasingly one of custodian of a brand’s internal ‘customers’, ensuring its culture reflects the message that is communicated externally and that employees have the tools they need to deliver a seamless customer experience. But how can this be achieved?
Start from the outside in. If an employee’s experience is markedly different from the culture you reflect through your consumer marketing, this will make them question their engagement. The same goes for recruitment: companies whose internal brand is as authentic as their external one tend to attract people who stand for the same values; candidates whose experience fails to match up to their expectations will look elsewhere.
It shows, for example, when an employer that espouses community values in its external brand has the same culture internally - individual, profit-driven behaviours are discouraged. At one UK bank, managers are role models for customer-driven behaviours such as asking questions or empathy, and the culture is set from the very top of the organisation – the chief executive has an open session every two weeks where he answers employees’ questions. This approach has delivered results for customers too, as this bank has jumped more than 100 places in KPMG Nunwood’s Customer Experience Excellence tables over the past two years by living its brand values internally.
Work with your marketing director or customer experience director on ways HR can translate a positive consumer brand experience to engage employees. Speak the language of the customer first, rather than the language of HR. Tackling culture first and identifying behaviours that align with corporate values will pay off when it comes to building the tools and interfaces that enable employees to deliver for customers.
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It pays to ask: What are the pinch points in employee processes that frustrate employees – could these be ironed out to make the experience of dealing with customers more engaging? Is it easy to get in touch with HR to ask a question or book a holiday, for example? Technology, and in particular cloud systems, can be a great enabler here – KPMG works with cloud providers such as Workday and Oracle on delivering pre-configured, best-practice processes that can help to streamline the employee experience.
Apply a consumer mindset to creating the interfaces your employees will use, rather than designing them through the eyes of HR. As consumers, we no longer expect to have a different grade of experience depending on the device we use to access a piece of software, so why should it be any different in the workplace? Expectations of the technology we use at work are only going to get higher, so step into employees’ shoes when introducing or upgrading the tools that enable them to do their job.
Creating an employee experience that lives up to your consumer promises will show tangible results if you focus on outcomes, too. Measure ways in which high engagement leads to better customer satisfaction scores, or how lower staff attrition links to higher revenue growth. The metrics for each organisation will be different but the goal will be the same – a virtuous circle where employees take pride in improving customers’ experiences and in turn increase their own satisfaction and loyalty.
Apply a consumer mindset - Design processes and tools around employees rather than around HR. Employees expect simple user interfaces and a fast turnaround so they can provide a good service to customers.
Tackle culture first - Don’t try to retro-fit processes around a culture that doesn’t match your external brand. Embed customer-facing behaviours from the very top of the organisation and recruit managers to be role models for the values you espouse.
Focus on outcomes - Identify metrics that enable you to link better employee experience to greater customer satisfaction or revenue growth. Review these regularly and adapt things that aren’t working.