How to get every employee engaged in improving your customer experience
Chief Experience Officer
June 18, 2018
The key to improving your customer experience is enabling everyone in your company to join in the conversation. Enabling every employee to see the customer experience as leadership sees it and giving them a voice to share feedback and ideas to improve is essential for bringing about positive change. Now when I say “give them a voice to share ideas and feedback”, I don’t mean providing them with a small box for suggestions at the bottom of their mid-year review. I’m talking about providing them with an honest and transparent channel where they can add to an ongoing discussion that’s free from reprimand and incentivized to drive engagement.
There are two essential elements for achieving employee engagement, a REASON and a VOICE. Without a reason to engage in the improvement process, employees will most likely stay stuck in their siloed day-to-day tasks and will rarely participate in the long-term success of the business. Equally important is giving employees a voice with which they can express their ideas, feedback, and concerns. Without providing them with an easy way to join the conversation you’ll be hindering your most valuable asset from contributing to the improvement process. So lets address these two points one at a time.
Giving employees a REASON to join in the improvement process.
Getting employees to engage in improvement requires that they have a reason to do so. The most powerful reason for employee engagement is a shared understanding and belief in the mission and vision of the company. Whether you already have an established vision of the future or you’re in the process of creating one, make sure it’s a vision everyone can understand. If your vision statement is too long or wordy it will be forgotten. The vision of your company should be a mantra that everyone can not only recite but easily explain to others. If you’re not sure about where you stand on this issue, take a walk around the office after reading this article and ask a few of your colleagues if they know what the current vision of the company is. If everyone in your company can’t easily communicate what the company is trying to do, then you need to take a fresh look at how you’re articulating your vision to them. Whether it’s a short term goal or a long term vision, it needs to be simple, actionable, and achievable in order to drive full adoption from employees. Employees also need to understand the specific role that they play in achieving this vision. It’s hard for anyone to get invested in something if they don’t understand why or how they can help.
Another reason why employees become engaged in the improvement process is to help fix what’s broken. How many times have you or someone you know said “there is a much better way we could be doing this”? We’ve all been on the experience delivery end of a business and we’ve noticed all the ways we could improve the process. Remember that your employees on the “front line” are customer-facing and are often times best positioned to see what’s working and what’s not. They’ll usually identify problems that leadership doesn’t see and many times have solutions leadership would never think of. These employees have a very real drive to fix these problems and processes because it makes their daily duties more streamlined and also creates more positive engagement with customers.
A final suggestion for driving employee engagement is to incentivize their actions and ideas. Incentives don’t just have to take the form of a raise or other monetary bonus. Many times buying a round of beers for happy hour, recognition at the next all-team meeting, or even just a simple thank you can go a long way. However you choose to get your employees to engage in the improvement process, make sure you provide them with a reason that resonates and feels genuine.
Giving everyone a VOICE to share ideas and feedback to improve.
There are many famous stories of innovative ideas that have come from within a company. Maybe none more famous than the story of Spencer F. Silver the employee who for years tried to convince his fellow colleagues at 3M that the Post-It Note (a piece of paper with an adhesive that was reusable and stickable to any surface) was a great idea. But time and time again his pitch on the product was denied or fell on deaf ears with his supervisors. It wasn’t until years later when another employee trying to develop a new bookmark product borrowed his adhesive and the Post-It Note was finally created. Brilliant ideas within companies are already there, but often get stifled or go undiscovered due to a lack of giving employees a channel for communicating them. So let’s talk about how you can give all of your employees a voice in the improvement process so you never miss another great idea again.
Now that you’ve given your employees a reason to engage in the improvement process, you need to create a communication channel that provides them with a voice to share ideas and give feedback. Giving employees a voice is as simple as providing a channel with a direct line to the leadership. It’s essential that communication makes it from the front line to leadership unfiltered and in it’s most transparent form. This “direct line” can take on many different forms but the key is to make it accessible to everyone and it must be easy to use. One way might be to utilize existing channels such as the organization’s intranet, social platform, or idea management software. But if you don’t have an existing channel you’ll need to set one up. Your channel might be as simple as setting up an inbox dedicated to ideas and innovation or employing one of the many tools on the market that facilitate ideation. At the end of the day you just need to provide a channel that creates a conversation amongst your employees around improvement and show them that you are listening and improving the business based on their input.
Regardless of the channel you choose, there are two simple requirements for implementation. First, you need to embed it’s use into the daily culture of your organization. It may start with a company-wide communications campaign about its utilization and its importance to the growth of the company. Management operators need to demonstrate to front-line employees that they’re paying attention to who’s engaging in the channel and that they’ll make decisions off of the information it provides them. And second, you need to ensure that everyone has access to using the channel at all times. You never know when a great idea or thoughtful feedback might arise and you don’t want to hinder them from sharing because of access.
Your employees are your greatest asset. Not only do they carry out the daily operations of your business, they hold the greatest keys to unlocking the future potential of your brand. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and give them a reason to take part in the improvement of your business and then create a channel to start harnessing the power of their ideas. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.