This article by Nicola Matson, SVP of Product Management at Questback and Bernd Günter, Client Principal and Future Maker at ThoughtWorks first appeared on the ThoughtWorks Blog, October 9, 2019.
Digital transformation is reshaping how companies and entire sectors operate, while technologies such as artificial intelligence are changing our jobs and lives. In this mercurial business climate, employers realize that the experience of their employees is what makes the difference between success and failure.
By focusing on employee experience, organizations can readily drive higher performance. But crucially, where do they start? We believe the key to great employee experience is to listen – continuously. Too many organizations still rely on the annual survey to collect employee experience data but by doing so they miss out on real-time feedback and insights from their most important asset – their people.
Break down silos and hierarchies
Agile ways of working and principles have become more mainstream leading towards a more team-oriented and feedback-driven environment. The hyper-competitive landscape and power of digital disruption are forcing companies to break down silos and hierarchies, paving the way for a more networking and team-based organization. As businesses adapt to these new ways of working, understanding the needs and concerns of their employees becomes more critical.
Coaching and empowering, rather than micro-managing should be the norm. This creates an environment where innovation and good practices flourish. Hearing and responding to the voice of your employees is vital to business. It can give you the accumulative, strategically-won competitive advantage that lifts everything.
“More and more businesses are realizing that their competitive edge is not their products or services, but their people; the people who create their products or deliver their services. By listening to their employees, they can become an employer who delivers stellar employee experiences. This leads to more engaged employees committed to the success of the business, which in turn leads to better customer experiences, driving customer loyalty and value. The net result is a more successful business!” Nicola Matson, SVP Product Management at Questback.
Advantages of continuous listening
By giving employees a voice, paying attention to their feedback, and delivering great employee experiences, companies are able to hold on to top talent for longer. Employees feel listened to and invested in.
Change is inevitable in any organization. But the way it is implemented doesn’t have to be negatively disruptive or exclusively top-down. Your workforce becomes more open to change when it is discussed openly; when people can share their views, voice their concerns and feel heard. Adopting a feedback culture demonstrates to employees that people and inclusion matter when it comes to the change process. Moreover, employees know their business by heart and may have some good suggestions for needed changes. Also, it is more motivating to operate changes they have jointly developed.
Continuous listening keeps your fingers on the pulse of your employees. It helps you to quickly spot ‘ups and downs’ in the mood of your workforce and to take effective action where needed. Also, more conversations lead to more ideas, accelerating innovation, and driving competitive advantage. Combining employee’s feedback with other business metrics (such as sales data or market forecasts) gives you a much more holistic view. It really is a virtuous circle. And there are more advantages: Employees that have an on-going opportunity to give ‘always-on’ feedback are more invested and productive.
“Everyone is talking about the employee experience; it’s a trend inside and outside of most companies, and it’s a fundamental part of our ThoughtWorks culture. Some say it’s a gift to be given, but when we give feedback, we notice that the receiver isn’t good at receiving it, and when we receive feedback, we notice that the giver isn’t good at giving it. A few good methods and rituals can help, but technologies and professional experience management platforms like those of Questback are critical in supporting these methods. Feedback should also be seen as a tool that creates clarity of expectations, intentions and real/perceived impact of behavior. Shared clarity and mutual understanding are the things that help people better communicate, collaborate and change their behavior for the better,” Bernd Günter, Client Principal at ThoughtWorks.
Improving customer experience with continuous listening
But continuous listening does not only impact employees. It also improves the customer experience because engaged employees bring a host of benefits to the table. Listening and acting helps to create a more stable, engaged workforce and that, in turn, leads to better performance outcomes and happier customers.
Frontline employees speak to customers every day. They know where the pain points are in the customer journey. They have a better understanding of the customers’ frustrations and can reply and adapt to them in a better and faster way. They also capture the voice of the customer that won’t fill in customer experience (CX) surveys, providing valuable insights into what all customers are thinking. Making customer feedback visible and easily accessible for employees is, therefore, gold when striving for the continual improvements that customers demand.
“People buy from people. Employees are the face of your business, whether you are online, offline, face to face, or in a factory. We’ve all experienced the positive energy that comes from walking into a shop where the employees have a genuine enthusiasm for the product they’re selling or have been impressed by the speed and friendliness of a response to an email or social media post. Engaged employees = engaged customers. Listen to your employees to get first-hand intelligence on what your competitors are up to, and why they think it matters. This anecdotal information can make the difference between winning and losing new business. And listen to them continuously,” Luke Talbot, VP Product Marketing at Questback.
About the Authors
Nicola Matson | SVP, Product Management at Questback
Nicola Matson has spent her career partnering with customers around the globe to design and deliver HR solutions that address their business needs. In her role as SVP of Product Management Nicola builds unparalleled customer experiences through product development and execution. Working hand in hand with the R&D and GoToMarket functions, Nicola and her team deliver innovative products that customers love.
Bernd Günter | Client Principal and Future Maker
An expert in IoT, smart ecosystems and business intelligence/analytics. Bernd makes sure that companies are successful in their digital transformation, can make the right technology decisions and find out how and where they can innovate. He knows the true success and risk factors for new business models from many corporate and SME projects: strict customer orientation, change in corporate processes and culture, a sense of responsibility, business management ratios and the courage to break new ground.