The Human Side of Employee Engagement

As you probably know, Temkin Group spends a lot of time researching and writing about employee engagement. It’s one of our Four CX Core Competencies and a critical component of a customer-centric culture.

While our research typically focuses on the work environment that drives employee engagement, that’s only one part of the picture. To fully understand employee engagement, it’s important to look deeper at the people who are our employees. Why? Because employee engagement is driven by two things: Human Attitudes & Work Environment.

What do I mean by “Human Attitudes?” Your employees are people who have a set of feelings and beliefs that they bring with them to work. These underlying attributes may have absolutely nothing to do with their work. Here’s some data that looks at the level of employee engagement based on two sets of attitudes, the degree to which people feel happy, and the degree to which they feel loved and appreciated. (Note: we used the Temkin Employee Engagement Index to assess the level of engagement).

As you can see, people who are typically happy and those who feel loved and appreciated are significantly more engaged employees than other people. While their work may contribute to these feelings, it’s more likely that they feel this way because of their underlying perspectives and as a result of what’s going on in the rest of their lives.

The first implication of this insight is that you need to do a better job of recruiting and screening for people who are more likely to be engaged. This data shows that more positive people tend to be more engaged employees. So look for those people when you are hiring.

Another implication is that organizations need to deal with the underlying attitudes of their employees. In addition to applying traditional employee engagement strategies, you need to help employees develop more positive attitudes. There’s a lot of good resources to tap into from the Positive Psychology movement.

I’m joining other members of our team at the bi-annual World Congress of Positive Psychology in Montreal in July where we explore this focus on employee engagement in more detail. After the previous congress, we published this table connecting positive psychology to customer experience (including employee engagement):The bottom line: Employee engagement requires human engagement.

 

 

 

How Comcast Ignored This Customer’s Journey

We recently had an experience with Comcast that shows the importance of Customer Journey Thinking™. I’m not sharing this example to pick on Comcast (although it can be an easy target for bad customer experience given its consistently poor performance in the Temkin Experience Ratings), but instead I want to get across a key lesson for all companies.

We had a problem with our cable box and the Comcast phone agent said that we could bring it to the local Comcast center and get a new one. It’s a good move by Comcast to let people self-repair as much as possible; it keeps costs down and allows customers to accelerate the corrective action.

I wasn’t sure which of the cables that plug into the cable box I needed to bring, so I just grabbed the power cable. We went to Comcast and got the new box. Voila, success!

Unfortunately, that was not the end of the story. We got the cable box home and it didn’t work. There were no instructions. It wasn’t until a Comcast repairman showed up in a couple of days that we found out that the problem wasn’t with the box, it was with the remote. We needed to reprogram our remote.

What went wrong? Comcast treated our experience as a set of isolated interactions, instead of viewing our experience as a multi-step journey. We were looking for our TV to work again, and Comcast treated us as if we wanted to get help over the phone and swap a box at the local Comcast shop.

That’s where Customer Journey Thinking (CJM) comes into play. CJM is a way to focus on customers’ journeys when you are creating a new product, service, interaction, or experience. It requires people to always ask (and answer) these five questions:

  1. Who is the customer?
  2. What is the customer’s real goal?
  3. What did the customer do right before? (repeat three times)
  4. What will the customer do right afterwards? (repeat three times)
  5. What will make the customer happy?

Let’s say we were working at Comcast when they were looking at the self-service transaction of swapping a cable box at the Comcast stores. Here’s how a simple use of the CJM might have worked.

The team working on what looked like a modem swap st the Comcast store would have gone through the questions something like this:

  1. Who is the customer?
    • Are we targeting people who regularly swap out cable boxes and programs our remotes, or is our key market people who are much less familiar with our products and processes. We need to keep in mind any steps that might not be obvious or easy to understand for this type of customer (Note: As a best practice, it would be great to name an explicit design persona that we’re focusing on for this process).
  2. What is the customer’s real goal?
    • This customer probably wants to get his/her TV to start working again.
  3. What did the customer do right before? (repeat three times)
    • Unplugged the cable box and cables and drove to the Comcast store.
    • Went online to find the local Comcast store and its operating hours.
    • Spoke to someone at Comcast (or went online) where they found out that they could swap out the box.
  4. What will the customer do right afterwards? (repeat three times)
    • Take the box home.
    • Plug the box in.
    • Try and use the television… oops, they might not know they have to reprogram their remote.
  5. What will make the customer happy?
    • Getting their TV up and running quickly without any frustrations along the way.

If you were part of the team that went through these CJM questions, then you might have realized that the in-store element was only a piece in the overall journey, and that target customers would likely run into problems.

Using that Insight, the team might have identified these types of opportunities to improve the customers’ journey:

  • Have phone agents explain (or send a link to simple instructions about) which cables to bring with you when you swap out the box and explain that you will likely have to reprogram your remote.
  • At the store, provide instructions on reprogramming the remote and explain that it is a natural part of the process.
  • Send an email to customers who swap boxes with a link to instructions (including reprogramming of remote) and a diagnostic app if the box is not working properly.

The bottom line: Companies (not just Comcast) need to obsess about their customers’ journeys.

The Four CX Core Competencies (Infographic)

Hopefully you’ve read our FREE report, The Four CX Core Competencies. It outlines the blueprint to building a customer-centric organization. We’ve created this infographic to showcase the competencies:

  1. Purposeful Leadership: Operate consistently with a clear set of values.
  2. Compelling Brand Values: Deliver on your brand promises to customers.
  3. Employee Engagement: Align employees with the goals of the organization.
  4. Customer Connectedness: Infuse customer insight across the organization.

You can also download an 18″ x 24″ poster version.

Report: Employee Engagement Competency & Maturity, 2017

1706_StateOfEE2017_COVER2We just published a Temkin Group report, Employee Engagement Competency & Maturity, 2017. Here’s the executive summary of this annual review of employee engagement activities, competencies, and maturity levels for large companies:

Engaged employees are critical assets to their organization. It’s not surprising, therefore, that customer experience leaders have more engaged employees than their peers. To understand how companies are engaging their employees, we surveyed 169 large companies and compared their responses with similar studies we’ve conducted in previous years. We also asked survey respondents to complete Temkin Group’s Employee Engagement Competency & Maturity (EECM) Assessment. Highlights from our analysis of their responses include:

  • Front-line employees are viewed as the most highly engaged.
  • More than 70% of companies measure employee engagement at least annually, yet only 45% of executives consider taking action on the results a high priority.
  • Sixty-four percent of respondents believe that their social media tools have had a positive impact on their employee engagement activities, an increase from last year.
  • The top obstacle to employee engagement activities continues to be the lack of an employee engagement strategy.
  • While only 23% of companies are in the top two stages of employee engagement maturity, this is still an increase from last year.
  • When we compared companies with above average employee engagement maturity to those with lower maturity, we found that employee engagement leaders have better customer experience, enjoy better financial results, are more likely to take action on employee feedback, and face fewer obstacles than their counterparts with less engaged workforces.
  • You can use the results of the EECM Assessment to benchmark your own employee engagement activities.

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Here’s an excerpt from one of the 17 graphics that shows the maturity levels of employee engagement efforts in large companies and their effectiveness across five employee engagement competencies:

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CX Competency: Customer Connectedness (Video)

Temkin Group has found that the only path to sustainable customer experience differentiation is to build a customer-centric culture. How? By mastering Four Customer Experience Core Competencies.

This video provides an overview of one of those competencies, Customer Connectedness, where the goal is to infuse customer insight across the organization.

Here Are Four Strategies For Customer Connectedness:

CX Competency: Employee Engagement (Video)

Temkin Group has found that the only path to sustainable customer experience differentiation is to build a customer-centric culture. How? By mastering Four Customer Experience Core Competencies.

This video provides an overview of one of those competencies, Employee Engagement, where the goal is to align employees with the goals of the organization.

Here Are Five I’s of Employee Engagement:

Human Beings Are Driven By Their Personal Predictive Analytics

In yesterday’s NY Times, there’s an excellent article, We Aren’t Built to Live in the Moment (written by Martin Seligman and John Tierney). It discusses how human beings process information, and the emergence of a new field called prospective psychology. Here’s a very simplified summary of what it says…

Human beings:

  • Are distinctive from other species in our ability to focus on, value, and plan for the future.
  • Store our memories in three different components: what happened, when it happened, and where it happened.
  • Use our mental “downtime” to run many, many simulations about the future by reconfiguring the elements of our memory in different ways.
  • Tap into the results of simulations to make fast decisions by predicting the likely outcomes of different options.

My take: First of all, we pay attention to whatever Seligman says; he’s the father of the Positive Psychology movement (see the post, Positive Psychology Meets Customer Experience). This view of human psychology describes that the brain as if it is constantly running a very advanced suite of predictive analytics. Here’s why this is meaningful for CX professionals:

  • Humans’ focus on the future is what gives power to Purposeful Leadership, as it creates the motivation for people to be part of achieving something important in the future alongside other people.
  • Since people selectively reconfigure their memories, we need to design experiences to create specific memories. That’s the cornerstone of what we call “Design for Real People,” which is one of the strategies of the CX competency: Customer Connectedness.
  • The myriad of simulations provide people with an expectation that doing something good for someone else will likely lead to a good emotional outcome, which is what creates empathy.
  • To motivate customers, employees, or leaders, it’s helpful to introduce future scenarios that tap into elements of their previous experiences.

And here’s why prospective psychology is important for everyone: it determines your happiness. Like any predictive model, it needs fine tuning. If your model is always calculating the worst-case outcomes, then you’ll tend to be sad and depressed. On the other hand, if your model is looking for positive scenarios, then you’ll stay happy and motivated. We’ll be following the research to see how people can adjust their personal predictive models.

The bottom line: Pay attention to prospective psychology.

Report: The Shift To Customer Journey Insights

We just published a Temkin Group report, The Shift To Customer Journey Insights. Here’s the executive summary:

Customer insights are critical to customer experience programs. However, current insights’ efforts tend to focus on individual interactions rather than on a customer’s entire journey, and as a result, they often fail to provide a complete picture of a customer’s experience with the company. This report helps companies shift their insights efforts from concentrating narrowly on single transactions to focusing broadly on customers’ journeys.

Here are some highlights :

  • We developed an approach to help companies create a comprehensive view of journeys called Customer Journey Insights (CJI), which is made up of five strategies: Internal Journey Alignment, Journey Data Farming, Journey Performance Tracking, Journey Visualization, and Journey Prioritization.
  • We share 20 examples of best practices from companies that are applying these strategies to develop a more complete understanding of their customers’ journeys.
  • To help companies master these strategies, we have identified three stages organizations proceed through on their path to enabling customer journeys: 1) Customer Journey Orientation, 2) Customer Journey Enablement, and 3) Customer Journey Mastery.

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Here are the best practices focused around five strategies for shifting towards customer journey insights:

  1. Internal Journey Alignment. Shift the company’s mindset away from siloed interaction success to customer goal facilitation.
  2. Journey Data Farming. Tap into adjacent data sources and make linkages across channels.
  3. Journey Performance Tracking. Overhaul metrics to measure performance across customer journeys.
  4. Journey Visualization. Create mechanisms for communicating insights in a way that reinforces the centrality of customer journeys.
  5. Journey Prioritization. Focus on the journeys, customer segments, and channels that are strategic business priorities.

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CX Competency: Compelling Brand Values (Video)

Temkin Group has found that the only path to sustainable customer experience differentiation is to build a customer-centric culture. How? By mastering Four Customer Experience Core Competencies.

This video provides an overview of one of those competencies, Compelling Brand Values, where the goal is to deliver on your brand promises to customers.

Here Are Three Steps to Compelling Brand Values:

Report: What Happens After a Good or Bad Experience, 2017

We just published a Temkin Group report, What Happens After a Good or Bad Experience, 2017. This is our annual analysis of which companies deliver the most and least bad experiences, how consumers respond after those experience (in terms of sharing those experiences and changing their purchase behaviors), and the effect of service recovery (see last year’s report).

Here’s the executive summary:

To understand how good and bad experiences effect customer behavior, we asked 10,000 U.S. consumers about their recent interactions with more than 300 companies across 20 industries. We then compared results with similar studies we’ve conducted over the previous six years. Here are some highlights:

  • About 19% of the customers who interacted with Internet service providers and TV service providers reported having a bad experience – a considerably higher percentage than in other industries. Of the companies we evaluated, 21st Century, Spirit Airlines, and HSBC deliver bad experiences most frequently.
  • We looked at the percentage of customers in an industry had a bad experience and combined that number with the percentage of customers who said they decreased their spending after a bad experience and then used this data to create a Revenues at Risk Index for all 20 industries. Rental car agencies stand to lose the most revenue (6.7%) from delivering bad experiences, while retailers stand to lose the least (1%).
  • Investment firms are most effective at recovering after a bad experience, whereas TV service providers are the least effective.
  • After customers have a very bad or very good experience with a company, they are more likely to give feedback directly to the company than they are to post about it on Facebook, Twitter, or third party rating sites. Customers are also more likely to share positive feedback through online surveys and share negative feedback through emails.
  • Compared to previous years, customers are more likely to share feedback over Facebook and Twitter, and these channels are most popular with consumers who are between 25- and 44-years-old.
  • Of all the companies we evaluated, The Hartford is the most likely to receive negatively biased feedback directly from its customers, while Chubb is likely to receive the most positively biased feedback.

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Here are excerpted versions of 3 (out of 19) graphics in the report:
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CX Competency: Purposeful Leadership (Video)

Temkin Group has found that the only path to sustainable customer experience differentiation is to build a customer-centric culture. How? By mastering Four Customer Experience Core Competencies.

This video provides an overview of one of those competencies, Purposeful Leadership, where the goal is for leaders to act consistently with a clear, well-articulated set of values.

Here are the Five P’s of Purposeful Leaders:

Report: The State of CX Management, 2017

We just published a Temkin Group report, The State of CX Management, 2017.

For the eighth straight year, Temkin Group has evaluated the state of Customer Experience (CX) management at large companies. It includes a lot of details about customer experience within large organizations and examines their effectiveness across Temkin Group’s Four CX Core Competencies: Purposeful Leadership, Compelling Brand Values, Employee Engagement, and Customer Connectedness.

When we analyzed their efforts and their progress this year, we found that:

  • While only 8% of companies view themselves as industry leaders in CX today, 55% aspire to be leaders within three years.
  • A majority of companies have a CX executive in charge of their efforts and a central team who coordinates significant CX activities. The median number of CX staff members falls between 11 and 15 full-time professionals.
  • Companies find significant value in working with voice of the customer vendors, and the percentage of companies who get value out of this relationship has been steadily increasing.
  • We used Temkin Group’s CX Competency and Maturity Assessment, which evaluates four CX competencies­ (Purposeful Leadership, Compelling Brand Values, Employee Engagement, and Customer Connectedness) to benchmark the maturity of companies’ CX efforts and found that only 10% of companies have reached the highest two levels of customer experience, while 59% still find themselves in the lowest two stages.
  • When we compared CX leaders with CX laggards, we discovered that the leaders enjoy stronger financial results, are more likely to have senior executives leading company-wide CX efforts, employ more full-time CX employees, use more experience design agencies, and feel more supported by senior leaders.
  • This report also includes an assessment that companies can use to benchmark their CX efforts and capabilities.

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Here are the results from Temkin Group’s CX Competency & Maturity Assessment:

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Report: The Four Customer Experience Core Competencies (Free)

If you are only going to read only one thing about customer experience, then this report is it. It’s the blueprint for building a customer-centric organization… and it’s free.

We just published a Temkin Group report, The Four CX Core Competencies. This blueprint to building a customer-centric organization is an update to our groundbreaking research that was originally published in 2010 and updated in 2013.

Temkin Group has conducted multiple large-scale studies demonstrating that customer experience (CX) is highly correlated with loyalty across many different industries, in both business-to-consumer and business-to-business environments. When customers have a good experience with a company, they are more likely to repurchase from the company, try its new offerings, and recommend it to others.

While many companies try to improve their CX by making superficial changes, Temkin Group has found that the only path to lasting differentiation and increased loyalty is to build a customer-centric culture. Temkin Group has studied hundreds of companies to uncover the difference between CX leaders and their less successful peers, and has identified four CX competencies that companies must master if they wish to build and sustain CX differentiation:

  1. Purposeful Leadership: Operate consistently with a clear set of values. (see video)
  2. Compelling Brand Values: Deliver on your brand promises to customers. (see video)
  3. Employee Engagement: Align employees with the goals of the organization. (see video)
  4. Customer Connectedness: Infuse customer insight across the organization. (see video)

Download report for FREE

This whiteboard video describes the Four CX Core Competencies:

Here are the best practices described in the report:

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Focus On Employee Engagement, Not Employee Experience

We are finally seeing a movement by the general business world to seriously focus on the role and value of employees, which is why “Embracing Employee Engagement” is one of our 2017 CX Trends. Temkin Group has viewed employee engagement as a critical foundation for customer experience since our inception. It’s one of our Four CX Core Competencies.

While the trend is great, there’s still a long way to go. I’d love to see many more human resources organizations recognize that employee engagement is one of their strategic objectives (see my post, HR Execs: Wake Up To Employee Engagement!).

As this area has gained attention, there’s been a troubling misunderstanding creeping up in the dialogue. People are confuscating Employee Engagement with Employee Experience. They are not the same.

It’s important to understand the distinction, because only one of them is the foundation to success. So let’s look at each of them:

  • Employee Experience deals with how employees enjoy their job or environment. It deals with making things fun and enjoyable. People often say things like “let’s treat the employees’ experience like we do the customers’ experience.” They think of ways to make the work place more exciting and fun, by adding things outside of work like pizza parties and gift swaps. Employee experience can be measured by questions like “how much fun do you have at work.
    • My take: This is a very nice thing to do for your employees, but it is insufficient to drive success.
  • Employee Engagement deals with how committed employees are to the mission of their organization. It deals with human beings’ intrinsic needs for a sense of meaningfulness, choice, competence, and progress. People who want to affect change in this area must focus on the design of the work environment using what we call the Five I’s: Inspire, Inform, Involve, Instruct, and Incent. Employee engagement can be measured by the three questions in the Temkin Employee Engagement Index.
    • My take: This is a requirement to drive long-term success.

If you want to build a high performing organization that consistently delivers great customer experience, then you need to focus on employee engagement. If you happen to improve employee experience along the way, then that’s an added bonus.

The bottom line: Focus on employee engagement, not employee experience.

P.S. Based on some great comments to this post, I want to clarify something. Improving employee experience is not a bad thing. But a company should not be focusing its energy on improving employees experience just for the sake of that improvement. The ultimate goal should be in creating an engaged workforce, not just ensuring that employees enjoy their work experience. See my post: Are You Creating Engaged or Entitled Employees?

Customer Obsession Lessons From Amazon.com’s Bezos

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos recently sent a letter to shareholders sharing his view on how Amazon would avoid what he calls “Day 2,” because…

Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.  

I’ve shared the full letter below, but want to share my thoughts on Bezos’ four themes he shares for avoiding Day 2:

  1. True Customer Obsession: Obviously this theme completely resonates with me. I love the line… “Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.” My take: Companies need to look for the unchartered white space, and innovate at the intersection between customers’ latent needs and emerging capabilities.
  2. Resist Proxies: Bezos calls out “process” and “surveys” as proxies to watch out for. Process is an issue because it can reinforce compliance and complacency, instead of empowering individuals to drive innovation.  Surveys are an issue, because they can provide employees with a superficial understanding of customers. Deep insights into what people like, love, and dream about aren’t fully answered with percentage points. My take: You need to create deep customer empathy, not just statistically significant charts and metrics. Find ways to include more qualitative research.
  3. Embrace External Trends: Amazon will likely be more adept at grabbing the “tailwinds” of trends than most companies, but it’s critical for all leadership teams to keep an eye on how the world is changing. That’s why we issue our annual listing of CX trends. I was also very intrigued by Bezos’ discussion about easy access to Amazon’s “deep learning frameworks.” An API that taps into Amazon’s rich analytics backbone could be much more exciting than even IBM’s Watson. My take: Every organization should identify a set of key trends and ask the question: “How will these put us out of business or help us to create even more value to customers?”
  4. High-Velocity Decision Making. Bezos discusses three elements of his leadership philosophy. First of all, treat many decisions as reversible, so that you are creating an option — not just putting all your chips on a single approach. Second, is to get comfortable with making decisions without full information. Thirdly, he talks about “disagree and commit” which means that everyone needs to get in line when a decision has been made. Finally, he wants true misalignment to be identified and dealt with immediately. Nothing kills a culture more than lingering, unaddressed issues. My take: It’s smarter to get moving and learn along the way (see my post Modernize Leadership: Learn and Adjust).

The bottom line: Every leadership team should proactively avoid Day 2.

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