The “Voice of Employees” (VoE) has been described as one of the most important topics in business right now, WHY?
While there is a belief that HR Leaders have an ownership over “Voice of the Employee” it has long been suggested that VoE should also be the responsibility of Customer Experience (CX) Leaders, as market evidence shows that there is a clear link between positive employee engagement and CX success.
Ultimately, every organisation should have a feedback loop that exists between customers, employees and the organisation. This feedback loop came to the fore during the Covid pandemic and we saw how vital it is for all three pillars to be working in tandem.
There is no better time than now for Customer Experience Leaders to engage front line staff and customer feedback for business success. Understanding the relationship between these two workgroups allows businesses to build and sustain clear dialogue with those who are employed to work on the frontline and who will act as the bridge between customers and the business as a whole.
Essentially, this means that employees will be more motivated to seek out and share insights about the Customer Experience as there is an awareness that their feedback could make a critical contribution towards strategic business planning, which is of increased importance during a more volatile business environment post-Covid.
Now you might be thinking “if Voice of the Employee programmes is so important, and a CX program is an integral part of business success, what do some of the world’s leading VoE programmes look like? and how are the world’s top CX leaders delivering them?
VoE as a Developing Practice:
Firstly, it’s important to recognise that VoE is a relatively new and developing practice for CX leaders in many large businesses. Whilst VoE programmes are a key responsibility of HR leaders in over 60% of organisations, the percentage of CX leaders also overseeing or involved in their company’s VoE programme is lower, (at around 20% in 2020) but increasing year-on-year.
In 2021 M&T Bank in the US Launched their first-ever mobile app (MyVoice) that was built to gather and action real-time employee feedback. Its purpose was to act as an easy and intuitive way for employees to artificially “raise their hand” and point out possible opportunities that could help to diminish poor employee and customer experiences. M&T wanted every employee to feel empowered and supported in their mission for customer-centricity.
M&T stated that hundreds of issues have already been resolved and a highlighted win in their books includes a reduction in cycle time to update beneficiaries for customers. The reduced customer wait times in M&T contact centres has helped them to reduce web forms from multiple page documents to a single and very simplified form, which improves both the customer and employee experience as a whole.
Anton de Wet, chief client officer at Nedbank South Africa, is another CX leader that has helped launch VoE. Anton believes that it has been vital in ensuring that the feedback pillar is activated at every different level of the business, to gather insights from across the whole organisation.
Nedbank has implemented touchpoint CX measures that gather feedback per region, per area, per branch and right down to a per banker/employee level. Such measures are utilised to provide feedback and improvements in a structured manner.
The Virtuous Cycle:
While employee engagement and feedback lies at the heart of many VoE programmes, it is the “customer insight” that CX leaders are particularly eager to gather from their work within a VoE Program.
Kerri Ricketts, the head of CX with one of the UK’s busiest train networks, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), believes that employee feedback is more often restricted to impromptu or annual employee engagement surveys, which means that employees very rarely have the opportunity to express their opinion on how customer experience can be improved.
GTR states that whilst customer outcomes and feedback are central to their business, so too is employee feedback, which collectively and directly led to the creation of a new programme of 3 virtuous cycle projects to ensure that they:
- Define “what good looks like”.
- Measure how they deliver to this through updated service quality audits and new ‘staff helpfulness’ mystery shopping, praise and customer surveys.
- Ensure that they support teams being ‘proactive people’ across the employee end to end journey.
For GTR, this strategy will be an adaptable and continuous improvement approach as they learn and actively embed VoE into the way they work on continuous CX improvement.
Every CX leader you talk to will express the importance of turning “insights into action” as a fundamental basis for successfully running both Voice of the Customer and Voice of the Employee programmes.
Head of Customer Programs with Amazon Shipping – Amanda Whiteside, states that the ‘action’ from her insights was predefined as “reduce the number of contacts in relation to shipment and improve the delivery arm of Amazon’s service quality measures”.
Whiteside mentioned that VoE has been pivotal to achieving her targets, whilst also countering the argument that employee engagement surveys alone can’t make a difference to customer metrics.
She states that in early 2020 she established a bi-monthly employee survey to collect e-VOC by asking Amazon employees specifically CX related questions such as; ‘do you feel our organisation is customer obsessed’.
In 12 months, Amanda has improved this score significantly whilst also growing the Amazon Shipping business. These particular improvements have had a flow-on effect for the number of customer contacts, reducing contacts per shipment and also improving core service quality measures.
In 2020, M&G (London) executive team identified that vulnerable customers were not being sufficiently and consistently supported across the entire organisation. They tasked their CX program lead, Nicki Osborne, with overseeing improvements and VoE was a direct programme that would establish if their approach was working.
Nikki states that on a number of her deliverables she uses VoE surveys to understand how customers land with their colleagues. An example of this was developed in the M&G customers in crisis training for front line agents. After each training session, an anonymous survey was sent out to agents asking them to answer 3 short questions. Nikki actively used their feedback to tweak and adjust the training material and communications utilised in and around this training.
Nikki says that “listening to our colleagues and acting on their feedback has meant we’ve seen post-training scores increase and now around 90% of participants say they feel more confident to deal with these situations and that the session was of value to them.”
There are many strategies and options available to implement Voice of the Employee programs into your business as a way for supporting your Customer Experience Success. As experts in Market Research, Surveys, Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience and more, we can act as your professional insights partner.