How are CX and EX being shaped by coronavirus?

How are CX and EX being shaped by coronavirus?

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Last week we invited a cross-industry team of CX and EX professionals to talk to us about what they are finding so far. Our QoE online discussed focused on four questions:

  • How are different industries being affected?
  • What are we doing now that we know will be temporary?
  • What do we think will become a permanent change?
  • To what extent do we think that customer and employee expectations will return to ‘normal’?

The panel

  • Stewart Bromley, Chief Operating Officer, Financial Services
  • Jonathan Cann, Customer Relationship Management, Technology
  • Jo Kennedy, Customer Service, Health Insurance
  • Carl Lyon, Managing Director, The QoE
  • Katy Pearce, Head of Customer Experience, Telecoms
  • Rob Phillips, Customer Experience, Construction
  • Tony Reeves, Digital Lead, The QoE

 

Reflections from the discussion and related conversations

 We are a group function so we can continue doing our jobs, but there is a huge weight on the shoulders of many employees. This can make it more difficult to talk about next year’s strategy and campaigns, as well as other aspects of a business that would normally be important but now seem less so.”

 “What we’re experiencing is likely to be the ‘new normal’ for at least six months, perhaps longer. Once people have got used to working from home, the next big challenge will be supporting staff mental health.”

 “People are making extra efforts to be productive and keep going, but there are questions as to how sustainable this will be as time goes on. We’re already having difficulty in contacting some smaller business customers to evaluate their changing needs.”

 “We’re having to make the difficult decision to let staff go where aspects of a business have dried up, but making use of government schemes to sustain employment wherever possible.”

 “Flexibility is paramount. We’re sustaining business as usual but from our front room. We have to expect kids walking into meetings, we have to be flexible around working hours so people can work in the evenings.”

 “Companies are taking a temporarily different stance to their customer, eg from a sales to a support company. Some businesses are realising that they can’t sell their core product so are switching to a more service-orientated model, eg offering deliveries.”

 “Everyone is feeling the change in their personal lives and witnessing the effect on others. But you also get a sense that some business sectors are still insulated from the full impact and that this will come as a shock in the coming weeks.“

The overriding view at the end of the second week of official work at home shows that companies are in survival mode. It will be interesting to see if this has changed when we have our next session on Thursday 16 April.

Employees

Employees are under a highly visible mix of pressures, personal, professional and financial. Many companies are responding to the situation with a variety of positive actions that were unthinkable only a few weeks ago. The next few weeks, possibly months, will be crucial as stress increases on frontline managers, and leaders will be tested to the limit. But so will the employees. We’re already witnessing a marked difference in performance between natural problem solvers and those needing constant support and advice. We are seeing companies setting up a Whatapp groups for teams that are specifically not work-related to provide an outlet for office banter. Will this usher in a new coaching management style that companies have been desiring for so long?

Inevitably employee expectation will change and there is already a healthy debate on how the future of work will look and feel. But at present the new ways of working are, on the whole, harder and more stressful, so the desire to get back to normal is strong.

From a broader perspective so many good things are happening around the world in terms of enhancing communities that people may not want to return to normal and go back to the daily grind.

Customers

Increased volumes of stressed customers, combined with reduced capacity to service their needs has been described as the perfect customer experience storm. Customers are, on the most part, aware of the challenges companies are facing and acting with restraint or even compassion, particularly towards call centre staff. The scale and visibility of the issues is a huge mitigating factor.

Businesses are taking different approaches to customer measures such as NPS. Some have suspended them, others are celebrating an uplift in the crisis. Some have the view that they will take a nose-dive because people are a bit depressed, or they might rise because customers are impressed with the service provided at a difficult time ….‘If it wasn’t for you…’ It will be interesting to see if measures fluctuate as much as is predicted, and what they might mean for customer experience in the future.

All are witnessing changes in customer behaviours. An increased use of voice channel is inevitable. But we mustn’t ignore customers who are finding new ways to use their digital devices. Video calls, online ordering, bill payment, education and social sharing will become the new norm. This could present companies with the perfect opportunity to nail self and assisted service.

The basics of customer experience are still the same. If you have customer loyalty to a company, and that company does something great, customers will talk about it. And more conversation could well drive more sales.  ‘Will it last?’ is likely to depend on your next action as a business.

The future for businesses

Most businesses are very much in a here and now mode. The few that are talking about the future are also looking at driving change now. Different ways of working are demonstrating advantages and how problems can be overcome. As the weeks pass, people will be finding new ways to solve existing problems. Processes can be reviewed and modified, technologies adopted, and others dropped. Companies will be looking at using employees in different ways, and for different tasks. New skills and capabilities will be uncovered and put to work.

 

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Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

What’s the business opportunity in sustainability?

What’s the business opportunity in sustainability?

Few people (except perhaps Donald Trump) would deny that reducing our impact on the environment is important.

But it is often difficult for businesses to act with a united voice and purpose around sustainability. Many organisations will say that they’re doing the right thing, but if their employees see a different picture from within it can create a crisis of authenticity.

So if there’s a growing need for businesses to be engage authentically with sustainability, how can this be achieved?

In this episode of ExperienceCast, David Goldsworth, Head of Innovation and Strategy at Virgin, argues that the first thing to do as a business is to look at whether you are sustainable. According to Goldsworth, it is important to begin by looking at your own carbon footprint before beginning to build a customer proposition. One way to do this authentically is to involve colleagues from across the business in exploring the issue, and importantly before you have the answer.

The next step is to identify a business opportunity in sustainability for your organisation. Focusing on opportunity creates a positive message that is much easier to sell internally, and so for sustainability this is as much about what you start doing as what you stop doing. Just as importantly, a positive sell within a business can really help to motivate employees. This can be particularly effective if it involves some vulnerability along the lines of, ‘this is a complex issue, we might not get it right straight away, but we want everyone to be involved in shaping our approach’.

Then it’s a case of engaging employees across the business in an open debate on the issue. To make this work, Goldsworth believes that you must: 

  • Provide a context and framework for the debate
  • Provide a clear timeline and end point
  • Provide rules of engagement and guidelines to enable positive participation
  • Provide multiple ways for people to engage in the conversation in order to obtain a full landscape of views and opinions from across the business.

By enabling everyone to participate in shaping the narrative around sustainability, you create an authentic narrative that people connect with and believe is genuine.

For lots of businesses, there are opportunities to satisfy a consumer need around sustainability.

And who wouldn’t want to work for a business that does that?

A huge thank you to our guest panelist David Goldsworth for generously sharing his experience for this podcast.

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Photo by Victor Garcia on Unsplash

The QoE 12th March, Quo Vadis, London

The QoE 12th March, Quo Vadis, London

Topic: Should customer and employee experience outcomes
be aligned?
 

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At its simplest, customer experience (CX) has been good at improving products and services, and generally enhancing how customers are treated by companies. In return, companies who provide good CX have seen increases in sales, loyalty and reputation.

So employee experience (EX) should therefore be good at improving the working environment and support services, and generally enhancing how employees are treated. In return, companies will see improved productivity at a lower cost, increased employee retention and reputational gain.

But is this really the case?

Looking at CX and EX in this way would suggest companies see them as such, and will act accordingly.

Other companies are taking the view that the two are interconnected: happy employees = happy customers. But while this may well be true in the service world, especially with voice on chat interactions, does this work as we move away from direct contact with customers?

There is no doubt that companies who are good at both CX and EX can be extremely successful if they can maintain standards in both. Unfortunately for some, the digital agenda has reduced direct interaction and undermined employees’ faith in their future. This produces a negative impact on employee experience, and in turn effects customers who are used to interacting with happy motivated employees.

Morning session: comparing the outcomes of CX and EX

  • Can we define the objective and outcomes of CX and EX?
  • What are the benefits of aligning the outcomes of CX and EX, and what are the risks?
  • If we truly want to improve CX and EX, how can we design the outcomes to be mutually reinforcing?
  • What are the secrets of those companies who get this right, and what are the rewards?

Lunch: quickfire questions from the table

Afternoon session: actions and outcomes

  • Deciding on the best approach to CX and EX outcomes for your business
  • Developing actions about where to align outcomes, and where to diverge

Engaging and learning from our employees

Engaging and learning from our employees

Our guest panelists:

  • Andy Incles, Head of Store Resourcing and Scheduling, Marks and Spencers
  • Jonathan Cann, Global HEad of CRM, Namecheap

You’ve probably heard of unconscious bias by now. So how might it be affecting your ability to listen to your customers, and your employees?

We now have more data than ever. But the problem is that we can always find the data we need to justify our own views.

If you are hearing lots of things that you agree with, there’s a real danger that you’re in an echo chamber. The challenge – and the solution – is to find ways to change what you’re hearing, and how you’re listening to it.

Talk to some people outside your normal sphere of influence. Look at a different dataset. Actively read the negative comments in your survey. Then, and most importantly, take time to listen to what these genuine opinions are telling you.  

Among the questions we discuss in this episode are:

  • How do we choose who (and what) to listen to? And not just hear what we want to hear?
  • How can we get a balanced view of employee experience when you have a large and diverse workforce?
  • How might you use technology to bring you views from outside your echo chamber?

Don’t forget: you can get your questions answered by our ExperienceCast panel. Just send us your question, and we’ll feature it in one of our forthcoming episodes.

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What is the relationship between customer and employee insight?

What is the relationship between customer and employee insight?

A lot of people we talk with are doing great things with customer insight. They’re collecting rich data from multiple sources, and using sophisticated analytics to make informed decisions.

But a lot fewer are doing great things with employee insight.

This is a wasted opportunity. Data from employees not only enables us to learn more about how to improve their experience, it can also show us a great deal about how to improve our customers’ experience.

In this week’s ExperienceCast, we explored the question of how to get more out of the relationship between customer and employee insight. Several key points came out of the discussion, including:

  • There’s a big difference between gathering insight and actually listening to what your customers and employees are saying. You have to want to listen.
  • Employee experience data can greatly enhance understanding of customer experience, but many organisations are not yet making effective use of this data.
  • Customer and employee insight is problem pointing to the same issues, but just from a different viewpoint.
  • The one thing worse than not gathering insight is to gather insight and not do anything with it, especially in the area of employee experience.

Are you making great use of employee insight? And how are you connecting your employee insight data with your customer insight?

We’d love to hear more about what you’re doing, so why not leave us a comment below?

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Photo by M. B. M. on Unsplash
The QoE 23rd January, Quo Vadis, London

The QoE 23rd January, Quo Vadis, London

Topic: If 2020 is the year of the employee, what does this mean for customer experience?

 

Employee experience is increasingly recognised as a priority in developing sustainable businesses. But what does this mean for customer experience?

Our last discussion highlighted need for alignment across customer and employee experience. Both these areas have a shared objective in using experience to underpin the success of a company. It therefore stands to reason that both areas will share similar approaches to creating value, such as surveys, workshops and journey mapping.

But surprisingly, the biggest difference in customer and employee experience seems to be in how insight is collected, valued and used to drive actions.

If 2020 is to be the year of the employee, we need to look the different types of employee insight and clearly link the findings to tangible ROI. The combination of customer and employee insight will provide a more complete picture to help us develop a whole range of improvements.

Morning Session: how can employee experience help us to

  • optimise business performance?
  • develop and retain talent?
  • become truly customer-centric?
  • create opportunities for innovation and agility?
  • improve employee wellbeing?
  • foster a positive working environment?

Lunch: quickfire questions from the table

Afternoon session: actions and outcomes

  • Identifying your priorities for employee experience
  • Considering how analytics can help you
  • Developing actions that move the needle on employee experience

To join us, please just get in touch with Tony at tony.reeves@theqoe.com.