There are employees who get it and are highly motivated; they understand what their roles are and what is expected of them. But at the other end of the spectrum, there are other employees who don't get it. They're often much more cynical and tend to focus on the metrics rather than what’s really driving the number. In terms of how you emotionally engage these disparate groups, it can be a big piece of work. Effectively, you’re pushing on an open door for some and you're banging your head against a brick wall for others.
Trying to have the same approach across these groups is not going to be effective. Whichever group you’re talking to, the key to unlocking the right approach is rooted in the questions we ask; what motivates them, what demotivates them and why?
For some, it’s all about career progression; they want to be the next CEO. Likewise, there are some talented people who just want to turn up and do their job.
That's why it's essential to understand what motivates them and then measure against how well you're addressing that specific driver. Ask yourself, what's really important to this group and how well are you doing it?
Getting employee engagement wrong
We've seen many businesses struggle to understand why they are getting so many complaints - which can initially just be because they simply haven't asked their customers.
It's also very common for businesses to focus on the wrong problems, not stopping to think about the real cause or root of the issues. Let's run through a typical scenario so we can understand exactly how businesses need to start thinking in order to truly drive and measure engagement.
You may hear senior management say things like: "We have a highly engaged workforce, retention levels are really high etc. etc. That's not the problem. The problem must be somewhere else."
But, when you get down to the Frontline and you start having open and upfront conversations with contact center staff, they might say things like: “No, this is a poor place to work.” With very clear reasons.
They then begin to describe how a lot of their processes are broken, the handoffs between teams don’t work effectively and information was inconsistent. Unfortunately, in their eyes, nobody in the senior management team would listen or would go and do something about it.
With the pressure always on, managers won't see why they should take people off calls to understand more about a particular issue. It isn't typically viewed as a good use of resource because phones would then be left unmanned.
The consequences can lead to situations where approximately 70% of the calls coming into the contact center are rework. In other words, “Where's the statement that you said you'd send me?”, “I'm still waiting for the engineer to turn up”, or “I was on the phone and you said you'd put me through to someone else who could help then I was cut off and had to go to the back of the queue” etc.
This is where employees know what's happening is wrong, but they can't get anyone to listen or act. To add to this, the business is now carrying a huge cost of wasted effort, whilst the pride and engagement levels of the employees continue to diminish.
The end result is a workforce that has completely given up, showing through the customer experience and operating costs.
“Companies with engaged employees have 38% higher customer satisfaction, 22% higher productivity and up to 19% higher profits.” - Gallup
You have to go beyond the survey
If you go back to the start of the scenario, the leadership team thought they had really motivated employees. The first step is to validate exactly why they might think that, it's about digging a little deeper to find out how this conclusion has been drawn.
By going straight to the frontline you can then ask, "you do understand that the leadership team are under the impression you're currently very engaged, why might that be?".
They might say, “Well, of course, when the employee engagement survey comes around we tick 10 out of 10, because without that we won't get our bonus.”
As it happens this was an urban myth, however we're now starting to get to the root of the problem. This is where a business has placed too much dependency around their quarterly survey as being the single point of truth, but also failed to communicate exactly how their bonus structure works and what the point of the survey was. As it happens that was an urban myth.
In one sense, the problem isn't actually to do with their people; it could more so be put down to a complacent culture, one that refuses to listen or act to what their employees were telling them.
We think this scenario is great at highlighting the impact of poor communication and a weak culture. Was someone genuinely listening and closing the loop? No, the opposite was true and that's truly demotivating to any team. They also made the mistake of measuring the wrong thing - by relying on their survey as a single source of truth.
It’s about really understanding what is important in your employees' world and helping to fix it.
How to measure engagement with customers
The world of customer experience has made significant progress in using metrics to earn accountability and respect. But measuring customer engagement demands a little more thought and new ways of thinking about the metrics. For the most part, customer experience starts with a number and most brands are typically working towards a number – such as CSat, NPS or Effort.
But, when it comes to engagement, this approach isn’t going to work. The traditional metrics simply aren’t enough. If you want to understand engagement then you need to start measuring your customer’s emotions. Stop asking them if they would recommend you and start asking them how they feel.
The fundamental challenge for CX professionals is that traditional metrics are just indicators that you’re having engagements, not indicators of the substance or quality of these engagements.
Emotions influence almost all human decision-making, but especially when it comes to consumer purchase decisions. The problem lies in the fact that emotion cannot be measured by numbers because the numbers cannot tell or explain everything that sits behind emotion. The numbers cannot reveal the reason behind the score – the emotional driver that led to the customer’s behaviour and level of engagement. The numbers also cannot tell you ways to improve – what could be done better and what you’re already getting right.
Look at the number of conversations you're having
Why measure the number of conversations? Because establishing a two-way dialogue leads to high quality responses from your customers - essentially when it's emotionally charged. It all comes down to unpicking the verbatim and surfacing insight that you receive from your customers. If only 50% of your customers are giving you insight, then this means that 50% of your customers are choosing to not engage with you.
This could be down to the framing of the question, it could be down to how you’re asking for the feedback, it could also be down to when you’re asking for the feedback. To remove any doubts you may have here, you should ensure you're following best practice. Keep your feedback requests as simple as possible, keep them relevant by asking at the moments that matter and ensure that there is low customer effort involved so you can deliver a frictionless experience. Remember, you want to remove the complexity from your customer's lives, not add to it.
Response rates are key indicators
If you only have a 10% feedback response rate, it’s because 90% don’t feel the emotional drive to leave any feedback – essentially, they are not engaged, so they’re not inclined to give you suggestions.
To increase response rates, you need a VoC programme that engages more of your customers, more often and on an emotional level.
If you try to picture all of the emotional connections you have with another person, you’ll realise it’s very complex and yet we're only focusing around one person. Imagine this scaled by the 1,000 people working in your contact centre and your 3 million customers. It’s now become thousands of interactions happening every day. The challenge then becomes, just how can you get under the surface of this?
You want to start by mapping out all of your customer touchpoints and build that journey right in front of you, this gives you a birds-eye perspective of exactly what your customers will be going through. Then pull out various touchpoints and think about what fears or problems might be going through your customer's minds at this point, how can you at that particular point add value to the relationship you have with the customer, establishing a positive interaction with them - one that leaves them feeling good about the experience.
If you're unclear as to what you're customers might be feeling then simply ask them, this is a perfect time to ask them to be open and honest with them, you want to make life easier for them, tell us how we can do that. The brands that then close the loop with these customers will see a huge increase in engagement as a result of their efforts, acknowledging their feedback is step one but going back to them and highlighting how their feedback has changed something for the better will put them on the path to becoming brand advocates.
Are you aware of the link between employee engagement and business performance? Click here to get your copy of our eBook From Employee Engagement to Customer Empowerment