Which do you prioritize, your customer experience or your employee experience? As it turns out, they support each other. In this webinar, we discuss the connection between employee engagement and the customer experience, stats behind employee engagement, and 3 tangible changes you can make to your organization to make both CX and EX shine.
00:08 Skylar: Hi everybody, so great to be here.
00:10 Elizabeth: Hi, good afternoon.
00:11 Skylar: I’m Skyler, here’s Elizabeth. Thank you so much for this set up. Like she mentioned, for myself here, ’cause we haven’t been able to study this for the last few years, this collision that’s now hitting the headlines these days and sitting next me is Elizabeth who has not only scaled our customer success team here, I think it’s around six times bigger than when I joined, but she also gets to work directly with the thousands of organizations that we’ve helped over the years to look into this. I’m really excited of this, sort of a personal hero of mine so this is… Kinda really excited here and I hope you are too.
Manage your whole employee experience in one place. Learn:
What is an Employee Experience Platform?
00:49 Skylar: But jumping right in, we would love to go over… Again, sort of clarifying, what is this collision? You might have seen the same topic in some recent headlines, maybe [01:01] ____ ’cause you’re associated with the customer success team at your company or you affect some of the programs that influence the employee experience or influence your customers… Let’s define that a little bit, but then going beyond some of the high-level stats and recent research, we wanna dive into some of the intangibles. Some of the common denominators that lead to success versus the status quo. And again, I think Elizabeth is gonna be able to provide some great color commentary on… Diving into that but, from them, those things are a little bit intangible, but maybe we can help define them, give you some ways to look out for them at your own companies and then take some action away. And then… Time allowing, maybe have some Q&A at the end so let’s get into it. And again, this topic of the collision… Elizabeth I love hearing you talk about this ’cause you’ve observed it first hand, but what’s your overview?
Customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX)
02:00 Elizabeth: Yeah. Thanks for first, that wonderful introduction Skyler, I think the mutual admiration is certainly there. And excited to be here talking today about something I feel really passionately about. I’ve had a career that has really focused on customers first, and it’s been an important change for me, I think over the last four years that I’ve been with Kazoo in order to really understand more of what that means and how you sort of move forward with the customer-first mentality. As you see on your screen, and I think surprising to no one that 89% of companies expect to compete primarily on their customer experience. We are very much focused on that in today’s world, and with access to really any brand at any time with social media for complaints and praise, it’s really surface to the top. We know that it’s an important priority, we know that it’s a differentiator, but I think that there are some barriers there that we don’t always understand why. Why we can’t achieve the level of success with our customers and the interactions we have with them like we’d want to.
03:14 Skylar: Another interesting about this style in the screen, just setting up this presentation, I saw that it was less than five years ago, this number was just over 30, something like 34% or 35%. So just in the last five years, companies are saying… This many companies are saying it’s that high of a priority for them. It seems like they’re really pointing towards this as helping the business, but… What’s really going on there?
03:45 Elizabeth: Yeah, and I think that when we think about the company and we think about our customers, you have a handful of opportunities to really get it right. Your interactions with your customers are relatively limited. As much as you would like to interact with them daily, in some cases, you get to, but you have way more control and leverage over the experiences you have with your employees. You think about that idea of the customer comes first, but is that at the expense of your employee? When you re-order that a little bit and you think about all the interactions that you have with your employees over time and the positive experience that they have, and we’ll talk about really what that looks like in action, but if they’re an engaged employee, then their ability to interact with the customer then becomes this pay it forward mentality, where as a customer-facing individual, I feel like I’m able to give the best service, and then as a company, I can see a direct correlation between employee happiness and customer satisfaction.
04:56 Skylar: Yeah, this is one part that’s really interesting to me, and hearing you describe it, it makes so much sense, but… I don’t know if it comes as a shock to anyone listening or if we talk to large organizations and more traditional organizations, it just still seems to make so much sense that if something comes up like a fire, maybe we call it internally, that we need to put out, to just do whatever it takes to address that customer need, and the problem is we’re being reactionary that way, we’re putting out fires that way, so everyday we seem to be railroading the employee experience and what’s happening with those people who have to deal with that on the way to it. In the short term, yes we’re satisfying the customers, we’re putting the customer first, but in the long run, it seems to be causing direct damage to the employee experience.
05:41 Elizabeth: Yeah, and I think as you really start to think about reverse engineering that a little bit, that winning in a single conversation for a customer, but what’s the long-term damage of that employee that’s potentially feeling demoralized because there’s a myriad of reasons of… It had to be mutually exclusive that in order for the customer to be right, they had to be wrong, and what does that mean long-term for your employees as well and their continued interactions.
06:13 Skylar: I think someone’s got our back on this too. One of our good friends.
The collision of CX and EX
06:17 Elizabeth: Yeah, one of our favorite people. Genuinely, we’re big fans of Sir Richard Branson, but we love this quote for so many reasons, “But clients do not come first, employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”. Obviously, it feels logical, right? It feels like, “Well, of course”. If I’m an employee and I’m customer-facing, if I feel supported, fulfilled and excited, then the interactions I have with customers will go above and beyond, and be an even better interaction. And so ultimately, in today’s workforce, a bad employee experience will catch up to how your customers are being treated, and that’s exactly what we mean by the collision of the customer experience and the employee experience.
07:07 Skylar: Yep, definitely not that we’re trying to say, “The customer is always right”, is wrong, and you should feel wrong. It’s just, hopefully it’s for the first time there’s a more mainstream realization of how intertwined these two things are, they’re not… They’re not separate, they’re working together. So every day, we’re changing our mindset a little bit as the frame as the set up for today’s topic, to be thinking about the employee experience and its collision with the customer experience. So that’s starting to makes sense for everybody. As it has for us, and again, as you might see it in recent headlines. The problem is, if we start focusing on the employee experience, or if maybe you’re already in this mindset.
07:50 Skylar: As Gallup has pointed out a pretty famous stat now in recent years, “over two-thirds of us, at least in the US, are just actively “not engaged at work.” So if an engaged employee is what’s directly leading to these great customer experiences, like if the correlation is there. Well, the problem is that middle steps is missing right now, we’re just actively not get… And if you think about what comes with that, active disengagement, right? Not only the customer experience can be affected, but things like turnover… Gallup also showed that overall this active disengagement is costing companies about $450-500 billion a year, and all the costs associated with engagement, but just zeroing in the customer experience I think it was Gartner that found… When they looked at the top quadrant, the best 25% of companies that were thinking this way, but really taking up this collision and running with it, they had across the board about 10% stronger customer metrics, all around.
Investing in employee engagement
08:51 Skylar: So they’re really starting to see some of the benefits of that, and speaking of those… Notice that here, it’s from The Association for Talent Development. Again, companies that are realizing this and seems to be investing in employee development, investing in the employee experience. Per employee, they’re seeing 200% higher income, which is pretty incredible. But again, this also is interesting sort of fuzzy concept, it’s really hard to be quantified. And as you can see on the screen. When companies are unlocking this, when they are getting to that or more engaged employees increased in that number. Those companies are outperforming their competitors by 147%.
Let’s get on the same page.
Article: What is Employee Engagement?
09:38 Elizabeth: It is an astounding number. I mean,”Huh?”, 147% of over-achievement? And I love that idea of really looking at the correlation of what engaged employees mean for your bottom line. I think a lot of objections that we hear to this thinking is, Well, what’s the true ROI. What’s the thing that’s gonna help my executives buy-in to this idea, because there is a dogma that the “customer comes first”. Being able to come with stats and story. Not just as a, “Well, it feels good to treat our employees better”, to be able to say, “Hey, there’s a pretty distinct correlation about output and what that’s gonna mean for our bottom line by really engaging our employees”, especially for the purpose of this conversation, as it relates to how they interact with our customers.
10:35 Skylar: Totally. The bottom line is there, the ability to quantify is there, and the recent research is there, but, really just from a human perspective, We’ve all, I hope, had that great experience with a customer success team before. Either those, employees you interact with that are staying a few minutes after hours to help you navigate a certain situation on the phone, or really thinking with you until something is resolved. These are those employees that maybe you see at your company that are volunteering for things outside their day-to-day jobs. They’re being patient, empathetic with your customers. They really wanna seek and solve problems, not just this individual fire, but,”What can we do to make this situation better moving forward.” They’re just genuine, helpful people, not pushy jealous people not who are just there for the directable points of their jobs. And we’ve also run into those people and great customer experiences, and sure, some of them maybe are unicorns.
11:34 Skylar: But others, it’s this symptom of actually being engaged in my job, being aligned to the goals of the company, and you can feel that. So we could hope to get lucky and have a customer success team like that or we can look at, “What’s happening behind the scenes”, “What are the intangibles”, “What are the common things happening on those teams that cause that level of customer support, that level of customer success”. And that’s what we’d like to tackle a little bit in depth today. But first, let’s do this quick poll out there. And really [12:15] ____, sort of take a part that dogma about the customer always comes first. Just sort of a gut check for people listening right now, if you look at your own programs, your own processes, your own metrics, your own KPIs. Do you think you’re prioritizing customers over your employees? And it’s okay to be honest, here ’cause it’s semi-anonymous.
Poll: Are you prioritizing customers over employees?
12:36 Elizabeth: It’s okay. Obviously, it’s okay if you are, it’s just sort of the expectation here is you’re clinging to the output of, “Hey, we really want customers to have the best experience possible”, but there’s such an opportunity to build that and make that even stronger and more predictable with your employees directly.
12:57 Skylar: Yeah. It’s around a 60-40 split, that’s great. Some of this is maybe things that you’re already approaching and you’ll have more concrete actions for it. For others, again, we’re not saying that thinking that the customer comes first is bad at all, it’s just, when you look past that a little bit, maybe you’ll see some of the common mistakes we’re talking about, or maybe there are some of the early symptoms of disengaged employees happening, and this could be a part of that.
13:28 Skylar: So let’s dive into those, as we said, intangibles. And there’s a ton of research here, and we also just have years of direct exposure to this stuff. But when we started discussing it and picking apart our own research and the recent research in the headlines, we boiled it down to these three concepts for the purpose of the conversation today. That’s this notion of having trusting connections with colleagues, of having performance management that employees don’t dread, and manager relationships that establish support on their teams. If we think of as sort of intangibles, again, like I said, things that are a little bit harder to measure, a little bit harder to check for, if you know what to look for, if you know the constant common checks or common mistakes that happen against these, you’ll hopefully have a path to affecting change towards them and seeing some harder metrics get affected by them.
14:21 Elizabeth: And I think there’s also a lot to be said here, back to your earlier point, just hoping that you luck into these kinds of employees that are willing to go the extra mile and are really customer-obsessed, or the good news is you can build it. And we’re gonna talk about… Some of these are intangibles, but there’s things that you can do to help facilitate that in order to… Even if it’s just incremental improvement to foster a better relationship with your employees that relate to your customers.
14:55 Skylar: And I might say this a couple times, but if any of this seems a little high level or if it does seem like something you’d love to dig into, action items are beyond the ones that we’ll quickly cover today. Keep an eye on your inbox afterwards, we’re gonna send out some resources that… Just full of links and courses and all sorts of extra things tied to all of these concepts. So feel free to browse that as well afterwards, because we’re pretty passionate about this stuff. We’d love for anyone to learn more if they want.
Tip: Build trusting connections on your customer experience team
15:27 Skylar: Alright, so let’s get into that first intangible we touched on, this notion of fostering trusting connections on the team. When I was writing out some of this content, I summarized it as, thinking to myself, if I were to look at our own team, “Is our team thankful or thankless?” as a way to summarize how you talk about it. I do love how you talk about it. I’d love to hear your thoughts again on this.
15:50 Elizabeth: I got so many thoughts. Obviously, no surprise here, but I’m pretty passionate about the customer and passionate about what it means to be customer-facing and what those boundaries look like, or how boundaries also empower you and being proactive the way you think about your customers. Because being customer-facing is a hard job. Hoping that people are nodding their heads, even if you’re not customer-facing, that you understand that the people that you sort of have in the trenches who are facilitating conversations, and whether that’s a volume of a 100 conversations a day or five conversations a day. I think it takes a lot out of you, because it is so human and you’re trying to create relationships and partnerships and be supportive and be empathetic, especially when giving great service.
Create team connections, no matter where you work.
The Power of 1-on-1 and Team Check-Ins
16:44 Elizabeth: And so for me, this idea of building a team, and again, this doesn’t just have to be your customer team, although that is incredibly helpful, but creating a culture at work where people have a safe place to retreat and recharge and then rally so that they can go back out and continue to have positive conversations because your ability to come internally and be recharged then goes out and helps you give more, because it feels like it can be depleting when you’re having a lot of conversations over and over again. And again, whether those are positive or negative, you don’t want to rely on the person just being able to find that on their own, but giving them a safe space to come back, not only be vulnerable, but also… You have other people who are very well-versed in many customer interactions and exchanges as well, that there’s an opportunity to learn and share.
17:48 Elizabeth: And being cautious that it doesn’t become a situation where people can complain, but is more of a, “Hey, I ran into this.” And someone else can one, identify with that and say, “Yeah, I’ve been there. I tried this, it works pretty well.” Or, “I tried this, it didn’t work. But next time I’m thinking about this.” That camaraderie is so tangible and so important because I feel like I am progressing as an employee, I feel like I’m able to have better conversations with customers, but also rely on my team to sympathize if I need that, help me grow when I need that, because that’s not an if, that’s a win, and then also to really help create some sort of exposure, I guess, across the business of, This is what’s happening, this is what our customers are saying, and that that’s being circulated through the business as well.
18:47 Skylar: [18:47] ____ was like, “You can’t see it, but I can.” Elizabeth is sorta leaning in when she talks about this, and she’s so passionate about it. I’m not on her team, unfortunately, but I’m trying just to empathize with that. We’re all can think of that really difficult customer conversation, a really difficult bit of feedback that we get directly from a customer in a customer situation. I’m that customer service representative, and I get off that call and it’s sort of washing over me, right, this kind of really, “Wow, did I mess up? What’s gonna happen here? Are there gonna be repercussions?” And that difference of, do I have to just internalize this myself and try to pick myself up for the rest of the day or do I have… Am I surrounded by people or am I in a team situation where I can talk about that, learn about that, not feel scared when that happens. And hopefully you can feel that different… That’s the intangible we’re talking about here. So I have those kinds of trusting connections. We say on the side, a check is the camaraderie, that Elizabeth’s talking about, not competition, CX teams have to have metrics, things like number of tickets that we closed this month, or time to resolution on an issue, but if I’m only focusing on those and not looking around and trying to boost my peers, that’s maybe a situation where competition is winning out over camaraderie just to simplify it.
20:11 Elizabeth: I am a big fan of team goals. I love having a goal that everybody contributes to as well. And so, having somebody sitting next to you who’s having conversations that, if we’re all aiming toward a certain part of the business, let’s say it’s cross-sell opportunities within current customers that I am enabling the person sitting next to me to have the best possible conversation they can have because we all win as a team, they might learn something, I might learn something, all in the effort to get better, but to achieve something, and that sort of quiet confidence that comes with achieving team goals, I think really makes this something that… It’s a gift that keeps on giving that would cast a very long shadow.
20:58 Skylar: And so we’re writing this out, and I hear you talking about it, but I’m saying to myself, well sounds great. How do we get there? And our advice, again you see here if we were to boil it down to something really simple is, do a quick audit of how you’re currently handling rewards and recognition. We’re biased because we make a technology that allows us to handle this problem inherently, but technology is one of the things that can really help create these trusting connections. For us in the Kazoo platform, we have an aspect of that that allows the social recognition, compare some ways that recognition’s handled at companies. You think of that being locked down one-to-one in the Slack message or via email or a quick, “Hey, good job.”, at the end of a meeting, or even if there’s like an anonymous form or spreadsheet that companies have where someone can submit a “Hey, this person did a great job.” And it’s locked down, it’s not widely seen across the team, across the whole company.
22:00 Skylar: We have just a natural social activity feed that when someone’s being recognized, it’s showing up there, and when we see one of these difficult situations being handled or they’re a small win with the customer, it immediately goes in there and the rest of the company gains visibility on it for the rest of the CX team rallies around that and interacts with it. We just have a natural organic way because of this technology to again, prop people up, celebrate small wins every day, and over time when that just becomes part of the culture, it becomes part of the company, it really goes a long way in creating a shortcut to these trusting connections that we’re talking about.
Tip: Create a customer experience culture that’s thankful, not thankless
22:39 Elizabeth: I see now. Agreed, completely. And this celebration, especially going from, is your team thankful or thankless, that it removes some of that idea of it’s on the manager to give recognition and give it out. The responsibility becomes a team responsibility and again, feeds into that cycle of we are all helping each other. We’re all building camaraderie, vulnerability, which makes it then go forward.
23:12 Elizabeth: I do think that the common mistake here is something… The question I get a lot is I have a top performer who’s toxic, that they just can’t seem to get along with the team, that they go out of their way to not be helpful to the team, but they’re doing as an individual contributor, doing really well, via the metrics. My advice here is, people are watching, people are watching what you’re doing. If your employees care about who you hire, who you fire and who you promote, sometimes you’ll be surprised by removing a toxic performer at how high the potential becomes for everybody else on your team. They start performing at a higher level, which I’m sure is not surprising to anyone on this call, but I do think that there’s absolutely coaching conversations to have with them and the idea that, hey, this is where we are, you need to get on board or figure out a transition out of the business because that person will hold you back if they don’t get on board.
24:24 Elizabeth: And I really feel like when you remove a couple of people from the situation, and I’ve seen it go both ways, where they’re either removed or they’re just coached up, it becomes a game changer, and then when you start including your employees in the hiring process so that they feel like they also have a voice in interviews or giving feedback on candidates, that you start to see even more of that buy-in that propels you forward.
24:52 Skylar: Yeah, this is a really tough question. And I know if you’re listening and you’re stuck in that situation, another piece of advice is, it’s hard to make that business case for removing these employees sometimes when they are a top individual contributor. And Elizabeth alluded to it a little earlier, looking at the team goals. If there’s seems to be something off or stagnant or plateauing or even cratering when it comes to the team goals, a lot of times, something like this could be the center of that. So eliminating that, do you have a better business case when looking at the team goal aspect of it? But you’ll also see it really free you up to gain this intangible area. Speaking of intangibles, let’s see the next one. This notion of performance management and doing it in a way that people don’t dread.
25:43 Skylar: Again, just keep reacting because of the space here in the room, but when I talk about performance management, I can see her do that slow shake of the head. It’s one of those words, one of those concepts, that’s tough for all of us, and my summary here is, are we getting enough don’t take it personally training when it comes to performance management and I’d love to hear your summary on that.
Tip: Create positive customer experience culture with frequent feedback
26:06 Elizabeth: Yeah, I think that when we talk about traditional performance management and having just annual conversations, once a year conversations, we tend to focus on the big mistakes when we’re looking back, and a lot of those become really de-motivating. I think one of the interesting things here we talk about is don’t take it personally training. I’m customer-facing, and I’m having lots of conversations, the access to real-time feedback is very important to me and it should be very important to the business because reinforcing and correcting real-time, not waiting, I mean worst case, an entire year to tell me what I’m doing well or what I can improve on when every opportunity I have to speak to a customer, doesn’t reflect how I could be getting better and growing, and again, not that that interaction has to be from my manager, that interaction, that feedback can be from a peer, but it becomes less overwhelming because as a CX person, customer-facing, you need to be able to both give and receive feedback without internalizing it. And so, getting training on that and getting used to it, it’s like anything, the more you use it, the better practiced you’ll be. And if I regularly hear what I’m doing right or what I could improve, then it removes that sense of dread from these discussions that happen less frequently, if I know that the world doesn’t end when I get feedback, then it just makes it easier to take it in stride.
27:42 Skylar: Wow, yeah, again, just hearing you say that. Hey, can we have a talk? Like that. I got a squeamish just hearing that line. Tough thing to hear almost anywhere, especially at work, and looking at this seriously, it’s sort of in vogue, it’s pretty common to bash on the end of year performance reviews at this point. But in setting up this presentation and talking to you about it, I realized that the backwards-looking end of year review, I really feel like customer success, customer support teams, are more susceptible to this sense of dread than others, because again, so much is happening daily. So many customer interactions are happening daily. How many of the small wins or putting out small fires or doing preventative measures, is going on daily, but when we look back months later at stuff what’s probably more easier to stand out is where we messed up, right?
28:36 Elizabeth: Right.
28:36 Skylar: And talk about already being in a thankless job. ’cause that’s the sort of end of year review situation that they’re fighting the uphill battle against, this really is something that can take a big hit to the new employee experience for customer success teams. So our advice, like you were talking about, is try to switch to a continuous performance management model as opposed to something that looks back or maybe doesn’t give you as many opportunities for feedback. And this is another instance where we’re spoiled, where the companies that we work with are spoiled, because again, inherently on our platform, we have tools built in that allow us to have more of this continuous performance management model.
29:15 Skylar: The technology naturally prods our teams and our managers and our direct reports to set up regular feedback sessions to… It brings along the notes from the last time we had check-ins with each other along. It prompts us to not only set individual goals, but shows us how those could and should align to our department’s goals and our company’s goals. So then when we are having feedback discussions it’s not like a blank slate, the manager isn’t trying to think on the spot of what should be said in an easy or difficult conversation. The technology is naturally providing those talking points or giving us discussion topics because of the past feedback sessions, because of goals that we’ve set, check in notes that we have on hand, stuff like that. So again, not only prompting us to have more of these feedback opportunities, but prompting us to have the right kinds of conversations when those happen.
30:08 Elizabeth: And how easy is it to forget? How easy is it to not be able to pinpoint the successes of last month, let alone try to sum it up into an entire year, especially as a manager. I mean, I feel like I’m doing a disservice to my employees because they have had successes throughout the year, and if I get one opportunity to talk to them, I probably have a pretty short memory of what each of them individually has accomplished as well as, when you have a larger reporting chain, having a record of that is helpful. [chuckle] As I get older and I’m not taking my Ginkgo Biloba, I’m like, “What happened? Let’s make sure that we’re celebrating, being excited, but also really helping real-time influence over actions and because that immediately goes in play with your customers.”
31:06 Skylar: Yeah, I can’t even remember what month we’re in right now, is it still June?
31:10 Elizabeth: I think so.
31:11 Skylar: I’m not even sure. But definitely talking about. So of course, as you’ve heard us say, it’s a common mistake when it comes to some intangibles is still being in a model with those dreaded and delayed performance reviews, all this. Something to keep in mind is an intangible of these teams, again, is performance management conversations that people don’t dread. The third of the three is this notion of manager relationships. This really goes hand-in-hand with performance management, like we were just talking about.
Tip: Build strong manager-employee relationships
31:44 Elizabeth: I feel like this is such a key part of what you’re doing because people leave managers not jobs, that’s the traditional saying.
31:56 Skylar: Heard that one.
31:57 Elizabeth: Check. It just feels like the relationship that I have with my manager and potentially being a manager as well, what kind of feedback, what kind of support are you giving to your employees and also modeling for them to be better managers themselves? I think there’s such an opportunity here to show that your manager sees you, and values you. When we talk about continuous performance management, there’s an approach that we’re constantly feeding into overall visibility. Like Skylar was talking about. Putting it on a feed, putting it some place public, whether you’re doing it at all hands, this idea that my manager knows and appreciates what I do and also supports the message that I’m giving out, and that we’re in unison, makes me feel like I’m contributing to the company in a better, stronger way.
33:04 Elizabeth: So when I’m having my one-on-ones, if the slide says check for effective one-on-ones, the idea of, are they even occurring? Like start here, because a lot of times it’s just not happening. How do you institute a way for there to, step one, be one-on-one. Step two make sure that they’re effective and being able to utilize those conversations in order to influence actions. Again, with that continuous performance management, so that you feel like you’re getting regular feedback, but also regular support.
33:43 Skylar: Yeah, there’s so much to unpack here, we can talk about managers, and their potential effectiveness, and their influence on employees, really all day. In fact we do, we have an e-course just on manager relationships. Because there’s so many individual aspects that go into this, and I think it was Gallup, has one my most recent favorite stats. The managers seemed to be this forgotten layer of these engagement programs. When we roll something out in the hopes that our overall engagement scores that companies will go up, there’s often, again, a forgotten layer of getting managers on board with it, or teaching those managers how to get the most out of this program, or what are our top level goals are for it. There’s a forgotten layer in the roll-out process, that they’re just lumped in with the companies sort of getting this program and hoping everyone uses it.
34:38 Skylar: And I think that’s a really a big reason why that number we saw at the beginning, the two-thirds of employee’s still being disengaged. That number has barely budged, even though we seem to be investing in more and more on this kind of stuff. And recently Gallup found that, managers, just managers can swing your engagement scores at your company by up to 70% per employee. They have that much variance in where employee can land. So when we talk about this stuff, there’s so much that we can dive into.
Tip: Make your employee 1-on-1s effective
35:08 Skylar: But when we talk to organizations in smaller rooms, smaller discussions, one of the first things we ask you to check for, are your one-on-ones effective? Again, like Elizabeth said, not just are they happening, but is that time being used effectively? Or do both sides think of it as an obligatory, weekly spot, or monthly spot on my calendar? Because, if they’re being used effectively, that one-on-one interaction, that designated time is really one of… A great shortcut to all these things we keep talking about. Where trust can be built between the direct report and the manager. Where managers can start following up and following through. Where we can stay on the same page about what our objectives are, and if we’re headed there or not. And just that notion for the employee of our manager having our back. A lot of times it starts with a lot of the discussion happening there and it blossoms out to other things happening at the company. So, I guess listening to the common mistake associated with that also.
36:10 Elizabeth: Yeah, I think the lack of ongoing manager training, that just because we make somebody a manager in title doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re prepared, or they have the tools, they might have the desire. So ongoing manager training is really a must. Like you have to be able to enable your managers to grow, and part of that is creating that trust that is key. But then another part of that is modeling behavior and showing them that it’s in line with the core values of your company. Showing them what actions they can take as a manager really influences all of their employees, so that there’s a responsibility that’s associated with being the manager. More so than just getting projects done on time, or producing good work; It’s developing staff to be better, and push through, to have more opportunities in professional progression. There are also great managers that you have right now, like any kind of mentorship or from an established manager to a new manager, and building those bridges I think is another great way to, informally, keep that training going.
Help your managers level up
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37:27 Skylar: Yeah, we’ve seen this first hand, like I said, the company’s grown. It’s about six times bigger today than when I started. We implemented these training’s a couple of years ago, to again, not only pull wisdom from experienced managers, but also if the company is getting certain kinds of feedback regularly these focused manager sessions and trainings, were ways to bring that up on group. Aim ourselves toward a solution, and then how did that give practice across all the teams. I think it’s been incredibly effective, just speaking for me, as a human, I’ve had some of my best managers at this company in my whole career. I’m also not selling that guy I’m setting next to… I think one of the best managers I have ever met.
38:09 Elizabeth: Wow.
38:12 Skylar: So it’s not only worked for us, but at companies where employee experience, and you’re implementing these programs, you’re investing in them, ongoing manager trainings that help keep us aligned. And, hey, why are we doing this? What goals do we have for it? Having that be ongoing… If that’s not happening, it’s real common mistake that’s holding back these engagement initiatives and ultimately leading to those disengaged employees. Which, as we now know, directly effects the customer experience.
38:42 Skylar: And really not to harp on this too much, one thing is, like I mentioned before, our advice is to use tech to help streamline this. As you can tell from how passionate we are about the asks of managers to go into every one-on-one or to go into every interaction with your direct reports and have that full picture of, “What are this person’s individual goals? How are they doing as a person? What have we talked about before?” To carry that around, to juggle it and to be able to act and to add to it every single time is an incredible mental load. It’s almost too much to ask. So to what extent is the tech that you have on hand able to, again, prompt some of these conversations or help carry notes forward, or kinda give you the simple to-do list of, “Hey, what do we need to follow up on and follow through on for next time?” to reduce some of that mental burden on both sides? Again, we’re spoiled ’cause our platform helps us do this, but there’s a number of ways that tech can help you do that. And if you are auditing your teams and you don’t see that there, find something either manually or a formal platform for it.
39:57 Skylar: And just to touch a little bit more on the importance of these. We finished this study fairly recently, it was about 3000 plus employees, really just digging into this notion of what effective or how effective one-on-ones can be for people. And I’ve got tons of stats on the screen that you can see as a result of that. I won’t go into all of these and we are gonna distribute these slides after the webinar, but you can just see at the top this 82% number. When they’re having those frequent one-on-ones, it correlated 82% of the time with people who reported having a positive employee experience. I also like that one at the top and at the bottom, 38% more employees who have these said that they’re also receiving feedback and appreciation for their work, and it’s a common stat to hear that employees are routinely reporting they don’t feel appreciated enough. Ones who are having these one-on-ones more are… It sort of dampens that effect.
40:52 Skylar: And likewise at the bottom here, 44% who are having these more frequently, in their perception, the company has swift and transparent communication. Another bit of feedback that I’m sure all of us have heard, that you can never have enough transparency. Or the bit of bad feedback that comes back in our employee surveys is that they feel like the company isn’t communicating things well enough. Well, again, just having these more frequent one-on-ones was one of the biggest factors for tamping that down, and everything on the screen here deals with having a better or a worse employee experience. So, one-on-ones are so good.
41:29 Elizabeth: So important, always a joy.
Examples of CX and EX working together
41:31 Skylar: Those are the three intangible effects. And then quickly, keeping those in mind, we’d love to jump into a couple of examples. One is a company we don’t work with, is Jet Blue, but I’ve sort of admired them from the sidelines. I not only enjoy flying with them, but just how they seem to be… When we dug under the surface, they really seemed to be applying these themselves. I found some interviews from their team, and sort of a mantra within them was this notion of investing in the team. Not only from a technology standpoint, but from a human interactive standpoint, they have this notion of investing in them, and that affected the kinds of programs they were rolling out and the kinds of training that they were doing. And they were really big on this freedom to go the extra mile. And part of that’s sort of an empowerment play. Given that sort of trusting relationship that they’ve built behind the scenes, the employees have this freedom to deal with every customer situation that comes their way. They feel free to, “Okay, I’m gonna deal with this. I’m gonna solve this. I’m gonna leave this situation better,” rather than, “I have to stop right now and turn around and deal with the bureaucracy and the hey, tap my manager on the back sort of situation.”
42:50 Elizabeth: Well. It’s empowering. And I think that comes along with what we’re talking about with training and sharing of ideas. And that trust, obviously, is very scary from a company perspective to, and I put this in quotes but, “let” your employees navigate that experience for your customers. But you think about what that means as far as validation as an employee of, “I’m being trusted to be able to solve this problem without having to read from a playbook.” Of course, suggested is always a plus, but just coming in cold is never a great customer experience. To be able to connect and have the human side of it, and someone be able to help is pretty poignant.
43:42 Skylar: As everyone here has been having this in-person hospitality training, there’s sort of ongoing trainings for up and down the whole organization so that we’re really up-to-speed on how to handle some of these situations or what’s the Jet Blue way or expected behavior towards it. Really, just Google “Jet Blue and customer experience” and you’ll find these sort of same articles, you’ll find a lot more on how they approach this internally. But I couldn’t help but notice how much they’re aligned to these angles that we were talking about, those things like how to build and what you get when you build those trusting relationships, those manager relationships. And the results speak for themselves. They were ranked highest in customer satisfaction for 12 years in a row. A direct example of this collision of employee experience.
44:29 Elizabeth: Pretty impressive.
44:33 Skylar: Another one that maybe some people here haven’t heard of but we’ve been working with them over the last few years is Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union, RBFCU. One of the biggest, if not the biggest…
44:45 Elizabeth: I think they’re number two in Texas, but they’re pretty much the gold standard for customer experience, which they call their customers “members”. But we’ve been lucky enough to work with them for, like Skyler said, the last couple of years. And they really take the employee experience and the customer experience to a new level. They’re utilizing things like within our platform, this simple social peer-to-peer recognition, they’re showing these really incredible wins that they’re getting from a customer perspective, but also from a team perspective, like we talked about, that camaraderie and really facilitating that and building that up, we have Evan, who’s a VP over there, recognizing her team for what they’ve done, and people’s ability to comment on that or agree with that, which really just highlights the visibility of, “Hey, this is a hard working team that’s doing all of these things right, and it feels like they’re seeing direct results because of it.”
46:00 Skylar: Yeah, I’ve walked the halls at their HQ, and we’ve got these examples on the screen, these are not just peer-to-peer employees, but VPs who are recognizing teams, you can feel it when you talk to them, that each of them is in the know about what each other is working on, but also it seems like rare data moment analysis of do whatever it takes to… Let’s all do this, that sort of togetherness, that camaraderie, it looks subtle when we put their example up here, but their feed is just full of this kind of recognition constantly building up that culture of this, is great.
See how RBFCU fixed its customer experience —
by fixing its employee experience.
46:32 Elizabeth: Yeah, one of the things that I love… We have an example here, we talked a lot about managers, but they’ve gotten their CEO involved in it as well, they have a customer reward where the CEO will come over and high five you, you can redeem for it within the platform, which is obviously great for the company, because it’s a no-cost reward, but it’s really… They’ve taken it a step further and their CEO will write a note as well as come over and give you a high five. The idea that you have a leadership team that’s invested in this same culture speaks volumes, and Christina, who this note is addressed to, she actually has this up in her cubicle, she’s pretty proud of it. It’s such a light weight thing that drives so much value, and I think one of the magical parts of what RBFCU has done is that they recognized that they needed to serve their customers. They saw the way that their employees were getting treated and interacting with each other, and they felt there was an opportunity there. And they capitalized on it.
47:44 Skylar: I love this. Yeah, you think about, maybe some of us work at organizations, where there’re thousands of employees, but at an organization that big, it’s like when the CEO is walking through you sit up a little straighter, it’s like, ” Oh, the CEO has come by… “, but they have gotten their CEO to totally embraced this program, and the employees, see that. And then again, just being one of the most in-demand rewards in our platform, not just a joke or something that’s just for show there, then the CEO really embracing it and writing these notes, again, feels intangible but they can now measure that.
48:23 Elizabeth: Last example here for RBFCU, as far as something that we just pull directly from their feed, but the idea that you can have… They have an administrator who is essentially the company that’s able to give KPI recognition, so again, this idea of great service, and if you’re receiving a certain number on a survey that that comment, is uploaded into the system and you’re able to be recognized by your peers not just by the person you had a great experience with, but there’s such a good collision here of recognizing the KPI tied to a customer survey, but then socializing that internally as well, so that it just builds more on to that idea of being recognized for the great work that you’re doing.
49:19 Skylar: Yeah, it seems subtle. Just to think it through clearly, if you’re having this platform like this before, a lot of times, these kinds of bonuses, which are tied to how I perform individually or service scores that I’m getting from our members, that’s just something that would be direct positive or am I getting a note at my desk or something. By integrating it with where they have and where they host this program related to the employee experience, these metrics or these rewards related to the customer experience are going right to that same activity, it leads to the place where we’re all celebrating each other’s small victories or propping each other up with recognition. These rewards for a great customer experience are going right in that same feed, if awareness rate increases and because it embraces and really brought their customer experience programs directly with their employee experience programs.
50:15 Skylar: The results, which we’ve just looked at them this year are amazing, I’d say, for a company that member scores and member experience are their life blood, or a credit union, a large credit union for instance. To see this middle set here especially 68% of the employees, no, a 68% increase in the number of employees that were hitting the highest customer service scores, I think when we looked at it, ended up being half of the number of employees that were eligible for this bonus, were getting that highest score from their members, and that’s just year-over year, and then again, this is intersected with the employee experience, so they also saw a decrease in turnover, at 17%. And then we looked at every month this year compared to this month last year, every single month, the Net Promoter Score which again, is the life blood of the company was going up. So again, we applaud them, but they also are one of the poster companies for this sort of interaction and the bottom line results that you see because of it.
51:23 Elizabeth: And I think we talked about Jeff Liu, we talked about RBFCU. The reality is that this can apply in any industry, so regardless of which you’re in healthcare, hospitality, technology, it doesn’t matter or we see this sort of ring through across industry, it’s really agnostic as to what can you… The results you can see regardless of which industry that you’re in.
51:51 Skylar: Absolutely. Precisely we are a lot there, so just I put a recap slide in here for the inclusion, hopefully help to sort of reframe the thinking around, “Should I pause when I see situations where we’re saying the customer is always right?” Is there a little bit more to that statement, right? And thinking about this collision, giving you a few ways to sort of boil these intangibles down to sort of quippy hints, but also again, you’ll have the slides and stats if you wanna check in on those again. And also that hopefully it allows you to know a little bit of a business case as well. This isn’t just something sort of warm and fuzzy, or like you said, intangible, even though we talked about intangible. When companies are embracing this collision, they’re seeing [52:37] ____ results, which is I think super exciting. All that said, thank you so much, I know we almost ran on the top of the hour, but we’d love to see if there’s any questions or again, stay tuned because we’ll [52:50] ____ materials and happy to answer anything via that medium as well.Audience Q&A
52:58 Skylar: We do have time for just one or two questions from our audience. We do have a listener who asks “How do you start this conversation because for some folks who are kind of locked in a more traditional mindset about the customer always coming first, it’s really hard to start that conversation. So how can you… “. Do you have any pointers for this person, how can you get them started on that road to having a conversation with their senior leadership that gets them to see that employee engagement does matter for customer engagement.
53:31 Skylar: Yeah.
53:33 Elizabeth: Yeah, I think we actually have… I had a conversation with a customer about this exact point, and they were saying that they sort of came at it from the angle of, they were trying to prove out and come with because they had a very data-driven CEO, they were coming with survey results, and those survey results were tied to what customers were saying in the interactions that the customers had had with the company, and leading with that and leading with their areas for improvement in those scores, and what are the things that directly affect that. And so they took the angle of more employee training, and that was sort of a foot-in-the-door of turning the spotlight from the customer to the employees.
54:27 Elizabeth: And so that’s a pretty rational baby step to take of like “Hey, if we focus on better training for our employees, then our customers will have better experiences”, and then you’re able to take that a little bit further so that it starts with training, which everybody feels is a positive thing, as opposed to saying, sometimes buzz words like “employee engagement” and we wanna focus on our employees, I also think it’s worth noting that you never wanna say you wanna focus on employees instead of customers. It’s an “and” that that link means that both, and we felt so for that both go up proportionately. So as employees are happier, customers are happier, that you’re not really having to prioritize one over the other, but starting really just simply with what you can do to turn the attention to giving your employees more opportunities to be better at their job, and then slowly introducing more with that training of, then it becomes some of those intangibles that we talked about and additional focus on the engaged employee.
55:40 Skylar: Absolutely. Yeah. Helping to build that in case in there and using real data points to inform it, a much better way of starting that conversation and just kicking down the door and shouting, the customer isn’t always right. Those conversations don’t go well…
55:55 Skylar: Yeah. I love that.
55:57 HCI host: Well, I’m terribly sorry to interrupt. Those are really great insights for our listeners today, but we are… We are at the end of our time. So before we go, I just wanna offer a reminder to our members that today’s webcast has been approved for HRCI and SHRM credit. Credits for attending this webcast will soon show up in your “My HCI” profile under the transcript tab. Don’t forget to check out hci.org for free content, as well as information on our certifications and events. That wraps up all the time we have, we’ll close today with one more thank you to Kazoo and our presenters, Skyler and Elizabeth. If you missed any details you can listen to this presentation again at any time. All of his webcasts are available on-demand on our website. For all of us here at HCI, thanks for being here, we’ll see you next time.
Improving the employee experience with technology
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