New research shows that UK firms are increasingly focused on capturing employee experience (EX), as well as customer experience (CX). This is a clear reflection of the importance placed on retaining talent, addressing productivity gaps and meeting the growing workplace expectations of younger demographics. Michael Reiserer, MD EASY Software Germany, highlights findings from the report that reveal how ready companies are to improve employee and supplier experience.
UK businesses are increasingly recognising that it is at least as important to give employees and suppliers a good experience as it is to make it easy for customers to deal with the organisation. A 360° view of experience management, the process of monitoring every interaction people experience with a company or organisation, is vital to spot opportunities for improvement and to drive retention. When employees and supply chain partners can achieve what they need to confidently, efficiently and conveniently – aided by access to all of the information they need on demand – they will have a more fulfilling and rewarding experience which will boost their loyalty to the company.
Research carried out in March 2020 shows that the majority of medium to large UK firms are doing well in terms of capturing experience data, including employee and other key partner and employee stakeholder sentiment. Three quarters (76 per cent) of UK firms collect customer experience data of some kind, while 60 per cent collect employee satisfaction data. For suppliers and business partners in the supply chain, experience management drops to 40 per cent of surveyed organisations, although a further 40 per cent have plans to do so.
Enhancing employee and supplier experience
While these statistics are encouraging, most UK firms could do so much more to enhance experience management. Typically, monitoring, managing and improving experiences for employees and suppliers or business partners is not as mature a discipline as customer relationship management. Although HR departments will review employee satisfaction as part of annual appraisals, and procurement teams will have an idea about whether suppliers are being paid on time or have sufficient insight into future demand, much of this feedback is ad hoc. It isn’t necessarily being fed back into plans for improving processes, or IT systems, which could better support employees or suppliers as they try to complete tasks or find answers to queries.
In the best-case scenarios, employees and suppliers should be able to serve themselves with information, and complete routine tasks, without the need to wait for help from an intermediary. That action might be to book time off or look up old payslips, in the case of an employee engaging with the HR department. This could even be via a mobile device from home. In the case of a supplier, it might be checking the status of an invoice or payment, or being able to verify order details, via a secure portal.
Intuitive self-services empower individuals to fulfil tasks at their own convenience so that they can move on with other things they need to do. They also reduce the need for departmental administrators to become involved in manually looking up information in response to incoming queries. This in turn eases the demand on internal resources, increasing operational productivity and cost efficiency, with a positive impact on business performance.
Yet, to be able to deliver improvements, companies must first know where their weak points are. They must be able to identify where current experiences are not hitting the mark – whether for customers and, in the fuller 360° scenario, for employees and for suppliers/partners.
As well as asking survey participants about their readiness for 360° experience measurement and management in their organisations, and the potential barriers to enabling this, the research looked at this topic in the context of other business priorities and concerns. These included Brexit and Covid-19, which at the time of the research had begun to present as a significant domestic as well as an international crisis.
Tracking experience data to improve relationships
The primary reason given for tracking experience data is to improve relationships – in particular by driving better interactions. Half (51 per cent) of managers agree that this is the goal and a further third (33 per cent) agree strongly. A similar proportion (51 per cent) agree (and a further 31 per cent strongly agree) that experience insights could help them optimise their operations.
Perceived challenges to these endeavours include the cost and time investment involved to collect and analyse experience data (seen as a barrier for nearly 60 per cent of respondents); the privacy/regulatory implications of capturing this data (seen to be an even greater issue – 45 per cent agree, and a further 26 per cent agree strongly). These issues are followed by practical issues including inadequate IT capabilities, poor data quality/confidence, and the lack of skills and processes for collecting and analysing the data.
Responses to a couple of pertinent open-ended questions offer more qualitative insight into companies’ reasons for collecting holistic experience data – and the risks of not doing so. Reasons for seeking 360° feedback about a company range from knowing where to focus improvements to needing to avoid tunnel vision or gain an honest and comprehensive insight into others’ perceptions of the company and its operations (which could not be gained by other means). Conversely, the dangers of not capturing these insights include potential blind-spots about the business, and creating a perception that the organisation does not care enough/is merely going through the motions when it comes to delivering what people need.
Preparing for the new stakeholder-focused society
In the post-pandemic era, the ability to monitor and respond to different stakeholder needs will determine future success. Effective experience management is hugely important as we move from a shareholder to a stakeholder society – a trend that the impact of Covid-19 is only going to accelerate. The new stakeholder-focussed society will recognise that all stakeholders, whether staff, customers, suppliers or business partners, have an impact on business success.
Michael C. Reiserer, MD, EASY Software Germany