How to treat employees as customers in the digital era
Few people would remember when purchasing a car or scooter meant a wait of several years. What would you say about customer experience in those times? If the car company allowed you into its showroom, made you wait for hours but in the end accepted your application and cheque (you’d be aware that delivery would take years), you’d have been satisfied.
Today, however, it’d be a traumatic experience.
The journey from a ‘shortage economy’ to this time of abundance has been a long one and customer experience has been a key change. When we ride Uber, for instance, we have experiences provided by their employees. When they come to work, they interact with clients and strive to deliver their best amid work pressures, expectations and personal agendas.
In many ways, they too are ‘customers’ of the brand. Their experience as part of the team has a direct correlation to how well they deliver for the brand’s customers. An unsatisfactory experience at work may lead to frustration, poor productivity, lack of interest and negativity, which are then projected onto customers.
So how can you provide the best employee experience?
The answer is digital
Today, the customer is ever demanding, impatient, and will rush to social media to rant about a brand when faced with the slightest friction. They can rally support from peers against a brand. It’s the same with employees. A bad experience can easily go viral on social media and alter the brand’s or company’s reputation.
Using digital tools, brands can address the general lack of a unified view across departments and increased level of employee expectations. With the support of digital platforms, the oft-ignored unorganised cacophony can be addressed.
Brands can use digital tools to tailor the user experience and the methods used to ‘service’ employees based on their individual preferences. Many of these preferences are driven by their age, personalities, and personal lives. ‘Manager vs. executive vs. intern’ is not as relevant now as a ‘millennial vs. Gen X or Baby Boomer’.
Organizations can tailor internal services for employees by better accounting for the unique differences between generations, attitudes, and preferences. For instance, the first to grow up with computers, Gen X, will have different expectations when it comes to communicating with HR or IT via email compared to a Baby Boomer who might be comfortable simply picking up the phone. A millennial may want to submit a request through an app or online chat.
Your workforce is your biggest asset. It is also the biggest opportunity to promote the company or brand. If a company can market itself as a great place to work and provide teams with the right culture and values, it can create influencers to attract and retain the best talent. When people love what they are doing, feel valued and empowered, they are more likely to participate in positive conversations about the organisation and post positive messages.
Where to start
Good customer service starts from within. Treating employees as customers will inspire them to deliver their best. This is not about providing employees with free lunches and birthday celebrations. We are talking about engaging with them on a deeper level. Here are some tools that brands are using:
- Blogs, message boards, Facebook and Twitter to engage with employees
- Personalised internal marketing messages to each team (for instance, messages to the sales team will be different from those to the accounts department)
- Sharing success stories as well as teams’ and individuals’ business wins
Meaningful workplace experiences are different for each employee, and companies that put their people first understand this. They understand employee motivations, and tailor their approach customized towards the needs of each employee.
If employees have a great workplace experience, they will naturally be motivated to create a great customer or client experience.