Nobody knows your customers better than the employees who interact with them on a daily basis. But for some reason, many organizations are choosing not to take advantage of that valuable employee knowledge — and missing out on a golden opportunity to understand their customers on a deeper level.
According to Forrester Research, employee feedback provides context for how customers perceive their experiences with your brand, which can help you identify gaps in your processes, policies, and technology that may be keeping customers from having the best experience possible. That’s why it’s so important for organizations to build Voice of the Employee (VoE) programs — to gather feedback from employees, uncover any Customer Experience (CX) issues, implement changes based on that feedback, and let employees know how their feedback is being used. Forrester defines VoE as “any feedback from employees or partners that pertains to their ability to deliver great customer experiences.” And using this feedback will not only strengthen your CX initiatives, but can make your employees feel empowered and valued in the process.
It’s time for CX pros to jump on the VoE bandwagon — no shortcuts
Even some businesses that consider themselves to be experts in CX miss the boat when it comes to leveraging employee feedback. Many underutilize employee feedback or lack VoE programs altogether, missing out on the valuable employee observations and suggestions to better understand and serve customers. According to Forrester, “CX pros don’t understand VoE programs very well; if they did, every company would have one.”
Many CX pros attempt to incorporate employee feedback into their CX strategies, but still fail — likely because they’re not following through with a complete strategy and only collecting feedback sporadically, instead of at regular intervals. And many of these companies rely solely on engagement surveys for feedback. But those surveys are designed to focus on the internal employee experience — not the Customer Experience — and are generally only sent once a year, or even biannually in some cases. However, engagement surveys can be a vital part of a successful VoE program, when used to determine things like whether or not coaching problems are affecting employees’ ability to deliver better customer experiences.
Business leaders today are more focused on CX than ever before. In fact, improving CX is the #1 priority for executives this year. So with such a big focus on improvement, why aren’t more organizations taking advantage of their biggest asset in understanding their customers? Forrester does a great job of illustrating the impact of VoE by comparing employees to canaries in a coal mine; meaning employees throughout a business’s ecosystem can warn of potential CX issues before customers even notice them, and identify problems before they become a huge issue. To pinpoint these small problems before they create huge headaches for an organization, CX professionals cannot rely solely on customer data; they must listen and react to employee feedback.
So how do we design a VoE problem that improves CX?
According to Forrester, only a well-designed VoE program can help solve your CX woes. They recommend that CX professionals:
- Map customer journeys and identify pain points — Find any gaps or issues throughout different points of the customer lifecycle. Assess employee feedback as it pertains to those customer interactions to develop a plan of action.
- Train employees on how to provide feedback — Be specific with employees about what kind of feedback you want them to provide and what information to collect from customers. Don’t assume they already know how to share the feedback you need. Also, teach them how to most effectively investigate problems with customers to gain better insights.
- Make feedback a requirement, not an option — Participation rates on optional surveys will likely be quite low. Make sure your employees (and managers) understand that providing feedback is an important part of their job. That being said, make sure employees are given adequate time to complete any surveys or other feedback-related tasks.
- Partner with a VoE vendor — Most organizations don’t have the resources in-house to successfully execute a VoE program, so it’s important to partner with VoE vendors — like Medallia. Social networking platforms like Salesforce Chatter can also help you collect unstructured employee feedback and facilitate peer-to-peer conversations, which are great for identifying any issues that may not come up in survey responses.
Whether you have a structured VoE program or not, one thing is certain — you must listen to your employees. Just like doctors need to consult with the nurses that tend to their patients, business leaders must listen to the employees that are interacting with and serving customers on a daily basis. You need feedback from both sides of customer interactions to truly diagnose any problems.
Want to learn more about improving your CX? Our ebook The Digital Customer Experience Strategy Guide has the tips, tools, and proven methods to help guide you.