Three ways to create a great employee experience with tech
Business Thought Leadership
Virgin Media O2 Business
19th April 2022
Share this article:
Lucy Clayton, Business Thought Leadership at Virgin Media O2 Business, looks at three ways organisations can use technology to optimise the employee experience — and deliver a better customer experience in turn.
How much can substandard technology impact a business? According to a 2021 report from Forrester1, a poorly-designed back-office system was instrumental in a huge financial error at Citibank in August 2020, when three employees accidentally transferred $900m to creditors of one of the bank’s clients – much of it now unrecoverable.2
“I think about those employees and how bad they must feel,” Forrester Principal Analyst and report author Andrew Hogan told the CX Cast podcast in April 2021.3 “I think about how unfair it is that they were given something so bad to use to do this really critical task. They were trying to do the right thing – and their customer was also pulled into it.”
Workplace tech is key to employee and customer experience
As operational errors go, it’s an extreme example. But it does highlight the relationship between the quality of internal systems, the way those systems can make employees feel about their job, and the impact they can have on customers.
When systems aren’t up to scratch, the resulting clunkiness can create a poor customer experience – from the phone enquiry that takes ages to answer to the approval timeout on a point of sale terminal.
And when employees are frustrated with systems that won’t let them do their job properly, they’re less likely to stick around. A study by Qualtrics found that when employees are satisfied with their workplace tech, they’re 230% more engaged and have 85% higher intent to stay.4
Three ways to optimise the employee experience with tech
In our new white paper The human connection: How empowering your people drives customer loyalty, we explore three ways organisations can tackle the problem of workplace systems undermining the employee and customer experience:
- Focus on foundational technologies
- Pay attention to the employee user experience
- Make smart use of AI and automation
1. Focus on foundational technologies
Foundational technologies like devices, connectivity and applications are key to your employees’ workplace experience – and to their ability to do a good job for your customers. These technologies therefore require special attention – especially as we move into the age of dynamic working5, where more work is done remotely and the office becomes a place for hybrid collaboration.
Gartner predicts that remote workers will use at least four different device types by 2024 – up from three in 2019 – noting that 4G and 5G-equipped devices will be key to a smooth employee experience. It also sees a rise in the use of software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps to enable employees to get work done from anywhere, and an increase in VPN capacity and SD-WAN implementations to ensure employees have secure, reliable connectivity.6
This will mean increased complexity for IT departments, but the payoff will lie in a workforce that is engaged and equipped to be at their best, wherever they are. As Gartner’s Ranjit Atwal says: “As mobility returns to the workforce, the need to equip employees able to work anywhere with the right tools, will be crucial.”
2. Pay attention to the employee user experience
The Citibank story above is a huge wake-up call to organisations to assess the user experience of their internal systems and make improvements where necessary.
Many internal systems are a decade or more old, and were designed primarily for data entry or extraction rather than user enjoyment. While budget has been poured into creating slick digital experiences for customers, the UX of internal systems has often been a secondary consideration.
That’s not good for organisations looking to build competitive advantage, according to Forrester’s Andrew Hogan. “It takes people longer to accomplish their goals, which makes customers either upset or dissatisfied,” he told CX Cast. “And if your employees are fighting their technology the whole way, how are you going to get them to be adaptive, creative, resilient?” 7
Choosing modern tools that are intuitive and pleasant to use won’t just improve productivity, but will also help employees to feel they’re being invested in. Hogan cites Netflix as an organisation that’s investing as much in internal UX as it does in the customer digital experience, in a quest to create a workplace where tech and people can work together to serve customers better.
3. Make smart use of AI and automation
A third way to increase employee engagement through tech is by harnessing new developments in AI and automation.
AI can improve the workplace experience right across the organisation – from ‘employee experience platforms’ like Microsoft Viva8 that help employees to organise their time, to contact centre bots that retrieve information to help agents answer customer queries faster. For managers, AI-powered ‘talent intelligence’ tools like Eightfold9 make it easier to find the right people to fill current skills gaps. Automation tools like BluePrism10, meanwhile, offload routine tasks to robotic workflows, freeing people to focus on the more value-added elements of their work.
On episode 19 of the O2 Blue Door podcast, O2 Head of Solutions Dave Cornwell describes it in terms of “employees moving up the food chain” as ‘digital talent’ in the form of bots and workflows take on their more mundane tasks. As an example, he says that “a data entry clerk might become a data analyst” – upskilling into a new role that offers more potential for job satisfaction.11
For senior strategists prepared to embrace these new technologies, he says, it’s also an opportunity to gain an edge in gaining and retaining customers. “The [question] for the C-suite is ‘how do I gain a competitive advantage through adoption of technology?’ And that’s a life or death question for organisations today.”
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 drives customer loyalty.