Whether it is in business or our personal lives, the pace of change is accelerating. News, politics and company fortunes are becoming more and more difficult to predict, meaning that the days of having a detailed five year plan and following it to the letter are long gone. This transformation in how the world operates opens up both threats and opportunities for businesses. Those organisations that are agile and can react in real-time will thrive, while those that fail to move quickly enough will fall behind.
However, while most businesses understand that we are now living in an always-on world, many are still missing out on vital data, by not continuously listening to their staff. Employee feedback can be used to transform business operations and provide the ability to be flexible, pinpointing opportunities and risks as they happen – if you are listening. Yet too many organisations still rely on just the annual survey to collect feedback, which means they don’t have real-time, continuous information from their most important asset – their people. Thanks to social media, they’re now used to sharing their views in real-time, and are happy to give feedback on a continuous basis – businesses therefore need to make it as easy as possible for them to share their ideas and then to act on what they are saying.
Implementing a continuous listening strategy delivers five key benefits for all types of organisations:
Improve the customer experience
Frontline employees speak to customers every day. They know where the pain points are in the customer journey, what frustrates consumers and where improvements can be made. They also capture the voice of those consumers that won’t fill in CX surveys, providing valuable insight into what all customers are actually thinking. Making it easy for employees to share their feedback on customer experience is therefore vital to driving the continual improvements that consumers demand.
Spotting opportunities and mitigating risks
The competitive landscape is being transformed in every sector through increased competition, digitisation and the advent of new technologies such as artificial intelligence. This creates new opportunities – but they can disappear quickly if you don’t act on them. Equally, new risks need to be countered in real-time – everyone has seen how quickly initially insignificant issues become front page news that impact brand reputation, sales and share price. Whichever part of your business they are in, your people have the insight that can be used to react quickly and act on opportunities before the competition – provided you give them the chance to share their thoughts with you.
Driving innovation and improving processes
Quickly implementing new ideas is at the heart of becoming an agile business. And innovation can come from anyone within your organisation – not just managers or your research and development teams. Whether it is improving existing processes to make operations more efficient and customer-centric or bigger, blue sky thinking that can open up new markets, your people are a vital source of insight that can drive innovation and new opportunities.
Informing better decision making
Senior managers need to make key decisions about the direction of their business on a real-time basis. To do this successfully requires deep insight and access to as much relevant information as possible. Listening to staff, and combining their feedback with other business metrics such as sales data and market forecasts gives a much more holistic view, enabling more informed decisions to be taken that drive the business forward.
Enabling successful change
To meet the challenges of increased competition, greater regulation and more demanding customers and stakeholders, many organisations are having to change both how they operate and the culture within their business. It is vital that they transform themselves, but this process of change can be difficult and lengthy. Ensuring that employees understand their part in new structures and cultures, and are actively embracing change is crucial if programmes are to be successful over the long-term. Listening to staff feedback and using it to monitor and update how you transform your organisation provides vital insight that helps you get to where your organisation needs to be.
We live in a real-time world, and those organisations that fail to adapt risk falling by the wayside. The one thing that’s guaranteed to differentiate you from everyone else is your people, so it’s time to listen to them properly.
- By Luke Talbot