Employee engagement: One simple idea… One mighty impact.

Customer Experience is a term that’s become very familiar to me recently. Pretty much all of the events I work across have a customer element to them, so I was interested to see what Customer Experience Management 2014 was going to offer up.

We’re part way through day one, and it’s pretty exciting down here. When I first got down here, I was expecting to hear a whole heap of the usual buzzwords; centricity, digital, journey and so on.

There’s always been one element of CX which stood out as a challenge, and that’s change. With the world we’re in now, it’s inevitable. As one of our speakers said earlier: ‘It’s not about what we did last year anymore, it’s not even last month – change is a daily constant’. For that reason, the spotlight is well and truly on employee engagement. After all, they are the ones driving change within any business.

Without making any sweeping statements, and probably unfair ones, there’s a lot of ‘same-same’ CX talk around the web these days. But today I was stopped in my same-same thinking tracks by a simple idea that lit up the entire room.

And it’s called A Personal Board.

So what is it? Quite simply, the notion that every single employee, upon recruitment, builds their own personal board of directors across the business. It’s an idea that comes from eBay, where every member of staff is tasked with the challenge of looking across the business – all levels and in all countries – to find a role they’d be interested in knowing about. They then pick up the phone and ask the person to be involved in their informal board. This helps with a few things:

  • Keeps employees engaged
  • Breaks down silos within the organisation
  • Drives innovation
  • Builds a network
  • Encourages communication
  • Helps drive change

So what does it take?

The smart thing that eBay has done is demonstrate the importance of the project to every single employee. People have a job to teach, but there’s no reason why you can’t start to do the same. It’s an informal process and only takes one person to drive it. Begin with your new starters and watch it spread.

I don’t know about you, but I love the thought of checking in with a few people across the business worldwide to get their thoughts or hear about their priorities.

P.S – if you haven’t been down to CEM 2014…. you should. They have mini-golf and everything.

Low cost marketing innovation – 4 essentials to success

It’s tough to be a marketer. It’s hard to allocate cash for innovation, but at the same time rapid consumer behaviour changes and increased competition make it a bit tricky to stand out.

All is not lost. We can once again get our creative juices flowing without breaking the bank (sorry…). I recently took a look at the world of Financial Services and it’s safe to say a few obstacles need to be overcome; the allure of the non-banks and a heck of a lot of expectation from the customer.

With that in mind I recently caught up with Simon Clarke, Head of Online Banking Suncorp.

Simon and the team have a clear focus: “We’re delivering our new core banking capability. It is a major strategic initiative for us and will enable a new generation of customer experience through our simpler and more agile platform.”

“At more of a group level, we are constantly looking at ways we can improve the customer experience across our key areas of banking, life and insurance. We want to ensure that customers have a consistent experience no matter what product they have and touch point they engage us from.”

The team have a smaller budget than the major banks, encouraging (sometimes forcing) Suncorp to think outside the box to build and optimise customer experience. This approach can often far outweigh consultation and reading through insight all day.

So how exactly are they doing this? Here’s Simon’s recipe to success:

Sweat the small stuff

“Post GFC, innovation has been always associated with research and development. But in more recent times, people and customers have come to realise that innovation isn’t always about the newest technology or gadget. It’s often just tapping away to remove a step or part of a process.

“We often find in banking that we build, design, rebuild and redesign technologies very quickly due to tech improvements and resilience. But we often neglect to review the process which the technology facilitates. That often leads to a slick looking application underpinned by a very long, frustrating seven-step process to do something that should only take two.

“We have a goal in which we constantly go through customer journey maps and ask: ‘Does that need to be there? Is it just because it’s always been there?’ As we optimise our websites, online banking platforms and mobile channels, we have the opportunity to challenge and improve the process. We also blend with user experience design so every word, click or tap culminates in a simple, easy to use engagement.”

What to do today: Innovate incrementally. Start with a small pain point with your product, system or process. Pull it apart and put it back together 2% at a time. Overtime, these 2% add to 20% very quickly and culminates in achieving high customer satisfaction at low cost and risk.

Mix it up

“We often find it amusing the costs that come out of delivering innovative technology or simply keeping up with customer demand. All of our banking platforms are designed and built in-house.

“This allows for very tight ‘product teams’ to form with a mix of business and IT people to take a challenge, sketch it, design it, user-test it, build it, secure it and get it out the door within a few days. We have feedback forms that are monitored and answered by product owners so every idea, complaint or comment goes straight to the person who can make a decision and execute on that idea or fix that problem.”

What to do today: Speak constantly to your team to understand roadblocks and attack them one by one to form a lean, effective team. Take the time to also listen to your customers. They should influence and be a part of your strategy and execution, not just an end user.

Look past the fancy reports

“From a design and UX perspective, again we use the same tools that a small business might to perform UI online tests, surveys and lab tests using basic video conference equipment.

“Some of these tools can cost $150 to run and the feedback and insight we get is amazing compared to a $10,000 report. We love using these ‘guerrilla tactics’. From an execution side, it allows us to try a lot of new things and if some don’t hit the mark, there isn’t a swollen budget sitting at the other end.”

What to do today: If you need insight, there’s plenty of it out there for free. Form an idea, build it out with creative and knowledgably colleagues and put it to the test. Learn fast and do it cheap. If the idea doesn’t hit the mark, gather your learnings and put it towards your next opportunity.

Persist

“Having a ‘fail fast and learn’ culture can be difficult to achieve and persist. But with the right attitude, enthusiasm and decision-making capability, we can strive to build the easiest-to-use websites and online banking platforms and see the effects through direct feedback.

“I think the biggest challenge is building the right culture and acknowledging that innovation doesn’t need to be cutting edge development. Simple touches each day accumulate to building an innovative model that customers can appreciate each time they engage us.”

What to do today: Build a safe working environment that allows your staff to thrive in generating and testing ideas. Isolate risk adversity so that it is managed but not impacting your ability to innovate and drive user experience.

Join Simon at Digital Financial Services 2014, he’ll be delivering the Case Study ‘Banking Channels at Speed through Lean Innovation’.  Visit www.digitalfinancialservices.com.au or tweet @digifinance

9 Tips for Transitioning to Customer Self Service

Guest post from Ross Clayton for the Government Contact Centre Summit 2014

Customer self-service is the obvious solution for government contact centres looking to preserve their operating budgets.

Not only does it keep low value, high volume transactions out of the contact centre, it also improves your customer experience by offering them a simple, fast and easy way to get the information that they need.

To help you on your journey, here are nine key things to consider when moving to self-service:

  1. Decide on your channel strategy – with a new social media channel appearing every minute, you can’t be everywhere. Instead, map out your target demographics and the channels they frequent, and tailor your efforts accordingly.
  1. Bring your customers with you – spending time and money on developing a new communication channel will be a fruitless endeavour unless your customers use it. Tell them about it in person, over the phone and any other way you can.
  1. Make it simple stupid – if your self-service channel is more complicated than doing it over the phone, it will go the way of the dinosaurs. Keep the interface simple and reduce the burden of effort on behalf of your customers.
  1. Don’t reinvent the wheel – You are not the first government agency to move to self-service, and you certainly won’t be the last. Draw on the lessons learned by your peers like ServiceNSW at home and the UK’s Digital by Default strategy abroad.
  1. The left hand should know what the right hand is doing – Integrate your self-service channels with the rest of your organisation. If someone is half way through a form online, you should know about it when they call you.
  1. Sing from the same hymn sheet – Consistency of message.The information on your website should be the same as that available on the phone. If your customers consider the phone channel the source of truth, you can guarantee they will continue to use it as their first port of call.
  1. Create a feedback loop – If customers often call the contact centre due to a similar issue or error, ensure that this is fed back into self-service design. That way problems can be addressed at source, and interactions can be resolved online rather than on the phone, saving time and money for all concerned.
  1. Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back – Often we see Contact Centre Managers shying away from newer channels, particularly social media, as they are more fearful of what might go wrong than the potential upside.
  1. Up skill your staff – Contact centres have come a long way from the call centres of yesterday. A modern customer service agent needs to be savvy across multiple channels. Ensure that you give them the tools they need to do the job.