Five ways employee tech can boost your customer experience
25th May 2022
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The tech your employees used to get work done is key to your customer experience. Here are five ways to ensure it works in your favour.
By now, most companies have got the memo: customer experience is key to business success. According to Harvard Business Review, brands that rank highly for customer satisfaction grow turnover 2.5x faster than their peers, and deliver up to 5x greater shareholder returns over a 10-year period.1
But not every company is as clued-up when it comes to assessing the quality of their own customer experience. A Zendesk survey in 2022 found that 60% of companies award themselves high marks for service, but 68% of customers think it could be better.2
For further CX gains, improve the employee experience
That may make disappointing reading for business leaders who believe they’ve done everything possible to create an outstanding customer experience. But there may be one more well to tap, and one that’s often overlooked: improving the employee experience.
Our new white paper, The human connection: How empowering your people drive customer loyalty explores the relationship between employee experience and customer experience. One key takeaway is that the tech your people use for work has a fundamental impact on the way your customers experience your business.
In the paper, we encourage employers to take these five actions to ensure employees are supported with the right tech to do their best work for your customers:
1. Ensure people have the right devices, connectivity and tools for their work
The tech that people need to get their work done is changing radically as more employees work remotely more of the time. Even straightforward tasks, like having a video call with a key customer, is exponentially more difficult if you’re sharing a home broadband connection with housemates or family members. Glitchy calls don’t just create a poor experience for the customer — they also make employees more frustrated with their job, and that makes itself felt in levels of employee engagement and motivation.
“Before the pandemic, employees were largely willing to roll their eyes and complain to co-workers about a bad experience accessing an internal system,” says digital transformation consultant Duncan Welling, quoted in Forbes.3 “But with offices closed, these systems have become the only point of contact, and a consistently bad experience may cause valuable employees to go looking for new jobs.”
It’s why the quality of workplace tech is becoming a major deciding factor in whether employees stick around or look for a new job, and a key differentiator when hiring new talent. A 2022 TRUCE Software survey found that 20.8% of workers said they’d be loyal to an employer who provides them with the right tech for the job,4 so getting it right is critical.
2. Avoid employees having to use ‘shadow’ technologies to get work done
Frustration with workplace systems has also driven up the use of ‘shadow IT’, where employees resort to their own personal devices and software tools to get work done. Beezy found that during the pandemic, 40% of employees were using tools that weren’t company-approved, creating the risk of cyberattacks, regulatory breaches and siloed data.5
But when the approved devices and systems aren’t fit for purpose, it’s wrong to blame employees for using workarounds that help them do their job better, say J. Eduardo Campos and Erica W. Campos of the consulting firm Embedded Knowledge. “Blaming business teams without listening to their needs creates mistrust and drives them apart,” they say.6
Instead, they say, IT teams should apply user-centred thinking to design internal systems that support employees to do their best work: “Applying solution design techniques will help better map stakeholders, identify their needs, and design sustainable business-oriented solutions, rather than imposing technical solutions with a low appeal to business units.”
3. Address areas of tech-created friction in the employee or customer experience
One reason employees have to work with clunky tech is that internal systems are often at the back of the queue for IT investment. Much of the focus in recent years has been on the customer digital experience – with shiny new apps, AI-powered chatbots and slick transactional websites.
But systems used by employees can have just as big an impact on the customer experience. For one thing, the way customers interact with companies has changed since the pandemic, with digital playing a much bigger role. Consider the sales rep who now pitches via Teams rather than taking the prospect out to lunch, or the restaurant where chefs receive orders from diners via an app rather than through waiting staff.
There’s also the tech that employees use internally to collaborate, resolve issues and generally ensure customers are well looked after. Over one-third (35%) of respondents to a Soffos survey in 2021 thought the quality of their product or service worsened because they were forced to use more technology during the pandemic. Even more (39%) thought that new internal uses of technology eroded the customer experience.7
Identifying areas where internal systems are failing employees and customers – and fixing those efficiency gaps – will be key to retaining customer loyalty over the long term.
4. Explore tools that can support people by automating simple tasks
People are better able to deliver an exceptional customer experience when they have time and headspace to add value in their work. One way to create that time and headspace is to automate routine tasks that currently take up much of the working day.
A 2021 survey of 1000 US workers by TELUS International revealed a slew of benefits from using bots and workflows to lift the burden of routine work.8 IT troubleshooting, data entry and schedule management all emerged as key activities that could be dealt with by bots, freeing employees to focus on the cognitively more rewarding aspects of their work.
Far from the AI-replacing-humans scenario feared by so many, bots are emerging as a new category of ‘digital talent’ that help employees perform better in their work. A Genesys survey in 2021 found that when AI assistants retrieve information for contact centre agents, those agents have more time to listen to the customer and empathise with their situation, creating a better experience all round.9
Getting the right mix of human and digital talent will be key, however. With Zendesk reporting that customers’ biggest frustration with bots is the number of questions they ask before transferring to a human agent10, there will need to be a fine-tuning of AI and automation to ensure an optimum experience for employees and customers alike.
5. Ensure employees are supported to learn new digital skills
No investment in internal IT will pay off unless employees can use it effectively and confidently. As hybrid working takes permanent root, and employers introduce new devices and tools to support employees to work in new ways, digital upskilling will be essential.
In March 2021, the Learning and Work Institute found that 23% of UK employers were missing basic digital skills in their current workforce, while 37% lacked the advanced digital skills they need to stay competitive in the post-pandemic world. Over three quarters (76%) said that the lack of digital skills would affect profitability.11 And investment in digital skills isn’t just a route to profitability: it can also be a major driver of employee engagement and retention. “People want to work for organizations where they have continuous opportunities to learn and advance their careers,” says Michele Parmelee, Global Deputy CEO and Chief People & Purpose Officer at Deloitte.12
As bots take on more routine tasks, there’s an opportunity to engage employees by upskilling them to do more creative and rewarding work. For example, rather than just fielding customer problems, service agents could be empowered to use low-code and no-code tools to build new processes that get queries resolved faster. That would be a win-win: a chance for employees to make a difference – and a better experience for customers.
Dive deeper with our paper on improving the employee experience
At Virgin Media O2 Business, we have direct experience of providing the right technology, partners and people to build a positive work culture with a focus on customer excellence.
If you’d like to learn more about how to optimise your customer experience by optimising your employee experience, read our paper: The human connection: How empowering your people drive customer loyalty