CUSTOMER-CENTRICITY AND EMPLOYEE-CENTRICITY
Customer-centricity encompasses both business processes, interactions, cultural mindsets, but also the actual way of doing business.
According to Paula Clapon, a content strategist at gethppy.com, a customer-centric approach has been proven to add value to a company, as a cultural and branding element but also as a business differentiator.
What about your peoples’ experience, that ensure a company’s competitive advantage over other businesses?
“At present you’ve got employee engagement on one side of the fence, and you’ve got customer experience on the other side of the fence. Both of those topics are being seen to be important to business. Both of these strategies are becoming common now. But I don’t see a lot of organisations pulling them together.”
Colin Shaw, founder of customer experience consultancy Beyond Philosophy
Jeanne Meister talks about the central theme of her book, The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules for Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees, that she co-wrote with Kevin J. Mulcahy.
She discusses two of the most important premises of the book including the importance of creating a workplace that meets employee needs in a way that is personalized and provides an emotional connection. Meister also discusses the need for HR leaders to take on an activist role to solve problems within an organization.
She points to the results of a Gallup poll that has consistently shown a high rate of employee disengagement. She provides examples of organizations that have successfully created work spaces that promote employee engagement and productivity.
Combining customer-centricity and employee-centricity is a smart strategy.
Here are some essential pointers identified in a study by Northwestern University – Linking Organizational Characteristics to Employee Attitudes and Behavior – A Look at the Downstream Effects on Market Response & Financial Performance.
- There is a direct link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, and between customer satisfaction and improved financial performance.
- The key organizational characteristic for explaining employee satisfaction is organizational communication (a measure of the downward and upward communication in an organization).
- Employee satisfaction is a key antecedent to employee engagement. Interaction between managers and employees with regards to supportiveness and goal setting, as well as job design were also key drivers of employee engagement.
- Organizational culture was another significant driver of employee engagement, where employees must be expected to cooperate and work together, but also to take charge and provide a voice for the customer within the organization. A fully cooperative culture feels the need to reach consensus on a single option, where a culture promoting healthy competition provides multiple choices which are then balanced against one another in an attempt to develop an optimal solution.
- When individuals and teams are competing to implement the optimal behaviors oriented to the market and its customers, such competition can work to the advantage of both the organization and its customers.
- Organizations with engaged employees have customers who use their products more, and increased customer usage leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction.
- It is an organization’s employees who influence the behavior and attitudes of customers, and it is customers who drive an organization’s profitability through the purchase and use of its products.
- In the end, customers who are more satisfied with an organization’s products are less expensive to serve, use the product more, and, hence, are more profitable customers.
Watch Richard Hadden – Co-author, Contented Cows, and Rebooting Leadership.
But the reality is that companies do not devote the same resources to employee-centricity as they do customer-centricity, ignoring the strong link between the two.
Creating an engaging employee experience
The employee experience is the sum of all the interactions between that employee and your company.
Companies should look at creating an employee experience, designed to attract the right people, engage and and retain them as they drive company growth, companies can reach the desired HR objectives and also drive customer satisfaction.
Companies should look at creating an integrated employee experience that tracks a candidate from their first contact with the company brand, until their last day at the office and even after they leave.
Every interaction that an employee has with your brand is an engagement touch point that can ensure the success or the failure of your strategy.
Throughout this experience, a number of emotions, processes, people and objects are involved, and they can either be linked effectively to attract, engage and retain top talent or they can be disconnected and perpetuate high turnover and disengagement.
Creating an employee experience that can foster engagement, job satisfaction and productivity should be a main goal for every business regardless of the industry, as it focuses on a core human need – the need to create value through our work and utilize our potential.
Applying design thinking in HR
How do you make work places an engaging experience for employees?
Jeanne Meister discusses some of the ways that human resource professionals are beginning to utilize marketing tools to create a different type of employee experience that is aimed at improving employee engagement, productivity, and retention.
She talks about some of the techniques such as the design thinking approach that integrates technology, employee needs, and business goals to create a people focused solution to HR issues.
Meister goes over the use of personalized long-term onboarding strategies for new employees to move employees through organizational socialization, and the promotion of internal career mobility initiatives that introduce employees to possible job options.
The two popular bestsellers Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation by Tim Brown, CEO of design firm IDEO in Palo Alto and The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage by Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management in Toronto, promote the use of design thinking to improve user experiences, develop new products or services, revamp corporate strategies, disturb or reinvent industries.
If you look at your current HR processes with a critical eye, how many of these processes are truly necessary?
How many of them are efficient? How are they shaping the employee experience?
Design Thinking is a mindset
The panel came up with some amazing revelations about what design thinking really means to HR. It is a mindset. It is about putting users first. So much has been said and done regarding design thinking in businesses. But in the HR world, it is still a new concept.
Design thinking can help you keep only relevant processes and organize them to work together to provide employees with a seamless experience that brings real value to both the employee and to the organization.
Design Thinking Meets HR – Transforming the Employee Experience at Standard Chartered
A three day leadership offsite with Standard Chartered, bringing the principles of Design Thinking to transform the employee experience.
Key steps to mapping the employee experience
Step 1: Create a persona and empathize with them
Who is your end-user? The persona, the ideal employee, is a construction that helps you understand who you want to attract and how that person thinks and feels. It will tell you where to find them, how to talk to them, what to offer them and how to build a relationship with them.
Step 2: Define their needs and wants
Research their needs and their objectives like you would any potential customer. Go deep into their lives and find out what makes them feel valued, what challenges them, what their passions and fears are, what they do to overcome them and who they rely on to make decisions.
Step 3: Ideate
Brainstorm ideas for every stage of the employee experience – get creative with your solutions.
Gather 3-5 employees that are engaged, and run a small internal workshop together. Explain why it is important and what you want to achieve.
Step 4: Build a prototype program
Build a representation of one or more of these ideas to show to others and check if they work. Select a department that is willing to put in the time in implementing the program and work together to see how this changes the employee experience. Ask them to record their thoughts and conclusions and use that as input and lessons learned for a larger rollout.
Step 5: Test
Test your ideas and get feedback from your existing employees. Start implementing changes one at a time and work out a simple feedback system, together with them. Explain to everyone how the process works and what the goals are.
Engaging employees at every step of their experience
Employee engagement is associated with day-to-day working of existing employees that are in the middle of their experience.
But engaging employees can be a strategic goal even before you recruit them.
The employee experience unfolds as follows:
- Employer branding
- Job listing
- Application process
- Interview & acceptance/rejection
- First day of work
- Learning and development
- Career planning
- Team management
- Succession management
- Personal life events
- Job termination or retirement
Beginning with the employer branding and recruiting phase, you can analyze each stage of the employee experience through the employee engagement filter.
You can, for example, convey your company values during the recruitment process. If an organization is saying it is innovative, that should be reflected in their recruitment message and actions. A company’s values should be aligned with the way people behave.
The application process is another essential step that is often overlooked as an engagement opportunity. By redesigning your applicant tracking system and online job submission processes from being employer-centric to being employee-centric can help create an engaging experience right from the start. This can, in turn, lead to a longer and better relationship with that future employee.
The ultimate employee experience can be designed with the work-life attributes in mind (job meaningfulness, flexible working, collaborative environments and idea generation), fostering collaborative engagement and retention.
Following the customer-centric business model, companies should also look to the customer within – the employee.
As new talent strategies struggle to bring to the forefront the employee and engage them to deliver better business results, technology has proven to be an essential partner in capturing key data and offering unique insights into how this employee experience should be shaped in order to deliver better retention, higher productivity and effective talent management.
Find out how mapping every touch point within the employee experience and using smart people analytics to personalize them enables HR to predict, manage and measure the impact of their operations, as well as link them to business outcomes.