Why employee engagement is every bit as important as customer insight'

In the fight against digitisation and disruptive competition, companies are racing to reinforce that most essential of business blocks - the customer experience, writes Ian McVey of Qualtrics

Follow the right path to employee engagement, writes Ian McVey
Follow the right path to employee engagement, writes Ian McVey
They do so in three ways – with immediate reaction on social channels, by merging marketing and sales teams and by engaging customer insight software specialists to harvest real time feedback, as well as to test, model and predict customer behaviour.

But customers aren’t a firm’s only assets. Nor are they the only stakeholders with big expectations. 
How about staff? Gallup research found that only 30 per cent of those in America holding down full time jobs are engaged in their work. 

The vast majority of employees are not operating at their full potential. Gallup even quantified the cost of employee disengagement at $450 - $550 billion per year.

It is not a missed opportunity if your firm is failing to capture employee insight, it’s a business risk. 
For a firm to reach its maximum potential, management has to listen to both parties in the customer relationship, because you cannot have a customer oriented company that is not listening to its staff.
The first rule of employee engagement is transparency. 

Ask your associates what they think and what can be improved. In the sharing society, people are queuing up to amplify their experiences, good and bad, and employees are no different. 

Ask your frontline employees what they consider to be the most pressing customer issues. After all, who knows more about your customers and who makes a bigger impression than they do? 

Ask associates how they rate benefit plans, training programmes, opportunities for advancement and work culture. Transparency is the key because it builds an essential employee asset - trust. Some firms are moving a step further, with corporate intranets, internal facebooks in which data is not only accrued, but shared.

The second rule is measurement.

Annual engagement surveys are nothing new, but they are only a starting point. 
Firms are increasingly linking individual reports to an organisational overview from which to drill down into data and compare divisions, regions and teams. 

They do this with the help of ‘software as a service’; immediate, affordable and simple to use platforms that grasp the employee experience, as well as the customer opinion, replacing laborious interviews and interpretation with real time, automated and anonymous analytics. 

By sharing tailored insights across silos, management better understands failings in the customer supply chain, spotlights pockets of high or low staff engagement and discovers the reasons why.

If customer insight is a holy grail, the interrelationship between contented customers and engaged employees is a virtuous circle. When the two coincide, the circle is complete. Employee engagement is a game changer which for long has depended on guesswork. 

Now organisations can use hard data. Ask the tough questions and use the results to implement change. The more scientific your approach, the more data analysis you employ, the more patterns you will find and the stronger a business you will build for all concerned.

Ian McVey is European manager at Qualtrics.

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