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The employee customer experience connection – 6 reasons to focus

With a world that is so binary I’m not surprised there isn’t more attention on this topic. People are either in the one camp, or the other, mostly. There are some, and I consider myself one, that straddle both sides. Here is why I think this is going to become increasingly important and a key differentiator for businesses if focused on properly.

First a little elaboration on my interest and role. I am watching a trend that eventually will become a report on the subject – more on that and other writing here: Employee Customer Experience Connection.

As for my role, I work as a customer success professional in the employee experience industry. Okay, the industry has only just recently identified itself thus and only in part, but effectively that is what its about.

At Microsoft where I work (disclosure), a massive part of its business, the Microsoft 365 part, is about employee or personal productivity. Formally, it’s a “productivity cloud that delivers innovative and intelligent experiences, rich organizational insights, and a trusted platform to help people and organizations get more done”.

The employee experience part that I am now heavily involved in has just recently been emphasised through a product called Microsoft Viva.

But my point is, the majority of my work has been (in the last decade or more) with people in companies concerned with helping their employees get more done for the success of the organisation. This ultimately comes through being successful with customers.

Why the employee customer experience connection matters

  1. Co-dependency. You can spend all the time in the world creating the best employee experience but if you don’t know if or how it impacts on the customer experience and outcomes, you are missing the bottom line. Customers are where the rubber hits the road and revenue and profits are earned – without this being optimised, you wont have employees for long. The rub is, it’s through employees you achieve this 🤔
  2. Data insights gold. There are tons of insights to be had on either side of the equation but if you don’t map it at the intersection, and there should be no reason why you cant, it’s wasted. At this intersection, you find the holy grail. If employee experience is the input side, the customer experience is the output side and how to optimise this, the ideal.
  3. Culture matters. What you do inside is reflected outside and the way you treat people is a linear relationship with the way employees treat customers. Company culture creation is at the forefront of that. Culture efforts are normally focused internally because it is within your control to a greater degree. Company culture impacts on and influences the culture that customer feel and lives too, so best you get it right.
  4. Proximity matters. A great example of this is the retail industry which I recently wrote about: 3 reasons retailers are leading at the intersection of employee and customer experience. Retail stores that give an employee a good experience have low turnover, and, in addition, they have a much better experience. And the firms that focus on this show higher profitability and growth. It doesn’t mean this proximity cannot be achieved in the digital realm, it’s just that in this context and for this industry, the physical experience has greater impact.
  5. Employees as customers and vice versa. You have to keep in mind that outside of your company, your employees and customers operate in both realms and get to experience good or bad encounters as a result of them. If an employee has a great experience as a customer with another company and comes back to yours to realise it’s terrible in comparison, they may not stay around for too long.
  6. Common purpose. Customers and employees alike have aspirations they strive to achieve, aligned with a sense of purpose. This cannot really be separated or compartmentalised. So you need to think about the vision of your company and what you are setting out to achieve and how you are bringing value to the world in the context of both groups alike.
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3 reasons retailers are leading at the intersection of employee and customer experience

As the featured image suggests, this is a thought rocket, some sensemaking on the fly – essentially some quick thoughts on a recent development, announcement, etc.

This post is related to a trend I am watching: Employee Customer Experience Connection. My thinking is captured in the title, in essence. It came to me on discovering the video from Samsung after which I have also added some additional thoughts:

This is really inspiring and makes total sense. It’s well within the realm of the possible so I don’t think this is just marketing fluff.

I dug a little deeper and found this article: Here’s how retailers can improve employee and customer experiences.

So clearly the hero’s of this video are Scandit technology and the Galaxy XCover Pro. But Microsoft Teams on which I work a lot (disclosure) also cracks a nod in the article.

That makes total sense and Microsoft is doing a lot of work with retailers on this – check this video out showing how the venerable institution that is Marks & Spencer in the UK, is using Teams to support their frontline workers.

Here’s why retailers are leading

  1. Frontline workers often kept things afloat and profitable during the pandemic and are the face of employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX). It’s where the rubber hits the road. Frontline workers in retail (unlike in manufacturing) are interacting with customers all the time – there really does have to be a meeting of these two experience connections as I have posited in the trend that I am watching – see infographic below which I created for this. The Samsung video really illustrates this superbly for this industry specifically.
  2. In 2022, labour shortages in general but acutely for this industry will force organisations to take a closer look at the intersection of their experience data. They will need to optimise these experiences to wring out every possible efficiency in an highly pressured and competitive environment – those that do so will win. The way to do it is through insight as to how the company is delivering through and for these two critical stakeholder groups – employee and customer.
  3. Employees want what customers already have – consumer grade experiences. And nowhere is it more evident than in retail and especially when online shopping has also exploded. So consumers have become expert at using digital to enhance their shopping experience. Employees had better be up to the same level and need/want to be – often customers in store will confront employees with the fruits of their expertise and knowledge. Internal employee tools are often not up to scratch but that is changing – see the M&S experience and how vendors like Microsoft are beefing up their support to the retail industry.

I’ve also written about the retail industry in a special section of my latest trend report – you can find out more about that and get the report by hitting the button:

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Microsoft 365 customer questions – Future of Work Vision and Strategy

I work in the business of dealing with customer questions on Microsoft 365 all the time (disclosure), either directly or indirectly. This is part of a series of posts where I share them if they can be of help to others. Where I can of course and naturally, not just the questions but the answers too. All questions and answers strive to respect both sides sensitivities (parts will have been redacted and/or anonymised) and the main topic is covered in each post title.

Question:

We need to work on a Future of Work (FoW) Vision and Strategy, can you share a good framework for arriving at one and managing its implementation as well as Microsoft’s own Vision and Strategy for FoW?

Answer:

Now I cannot share what was provided for the second part of the question, but I can for the first. For the second part though, you can get a very good view from all of the public material on the subject:

As for the first part of the question, here are two slides then a bit of elaboration.

This doesn’t need to much explanation although there is a fair bit of it accompanying the Vision and Strategy Framework which I can’t share.

Also, the Vision and Strategy Framework goes beyond just FoW considerations (the point bottom left of the slide) but it will do just fine to help formulate the thinking in this regard. This framework is actually used for digital transformation which anyway is central to FoW.

But it’s the Readiness Dashboard that really covers the specific aspects of a FoW Vision and Strategy. Now I’m not suggesting the elements covered are complete and fully comprehensive. FoW covers a huge area of work. These will probably do to get you started but the point is you can add to them, change them, remove them, etc. The point is to make them relevant to your organisation.

The point is these are both simple, iterative and accountable ways to arrive at a high level vision and strategy and a way to track progress as a you execute.

Obviously there is a lot of detail missing from this but hopefully this helps.

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Microsoft 365 customer questions – Sales Productivity

I work in the business of dealing with customers questions on Microsoft 365 all the time (disclosure), either directly or indirectly. This is part of a series of posts where I share them if they can be of help to others. Where I can of course and naturally, not just the questions but the answers too. All questions and answers strive to respect both sides sensitivities (parts will have been redacted and/or anonymised) and the main topic is covered in each post title.

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An employee experience update – thought leadership from Microsoft

Microsoft, with its Employee Experience Platform called Viva, is driving some serious thought leadership for the category and since I work there and picked up on this (disclosure), I thought I would share.

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Beyond onboarding – growth hacking adoption of your product with customers

NOTE: Enterprise technology and Microsoft 365 (M365) customers are predominantly the context for this post but hopefully it is still useful more broadly. In this context, I define onboarding as the set of activities related to the initial provisioning and orientation of a technology for users. It should ensure that users have seamless access and knowledge of what to do when first logging in and orienting themselves with the product. Just some of the basic things to consider:

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Internal Communications is more important than ever but missing a trick

If you’ve been following anything I have written in the last few months around employee experience, you’ll see that it is equally as important and indeed crucial to customer experience but often lacks attention, although that is now changing. It’s similar to enterprise software which has often lagged behind end consumer software in terms of innovation and adoption. Likewise, internal communications is a vital ingredient in employee experience but I think its been missing a trick.

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Why hybrid work is the new standard for productivity and sense making

By hybrid work I mean a combination of remote and in-office work, virtual and physical, etc. The extremes have been tested. Before the pandemic it was mostly in-office work. With the pandemic its been all remote/virtual. Now many are coming to the conclusion that a balance is best, in other words, hybrid work. While the data tea leaves are still being sifted, I capture some of what I know on the subject, since I work in the space (disclosure), as well as from recent great articles.

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The employee customer experience connection – fundamentals

Here is an infographic with some supporting source material and an industry overview for context if you want it. Here too is where my interest and expertise in this space lie. This post is intended to dig a little deeper on the subject. Check out the diagram which captures a little more detail than I’ve gone into before and then the notes to elaborate – because its time to level up đź’Ż

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Employee Experience Platform – the birth of a category

This week, Microsoft announced the launch of a new product called Viva (disclosure). Actually it is far more than a new product in many ways. It is also an attempt at consolidating technologies in the employee experience category as well as creating the category. It is also a shrewd leverage of the Teams as a Platform strategy which I have written about several times. Since Viva will be served exclusively through Teams, this is a perfect execution of the Teams as a Platform strategy. And it brings the new product and its functionalities into the Flow of Work.

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Cloudy with a chance of churn and how to retain your SaaS customers

One of the first things a customer will question in a downturn, is where they can cut or reduce recurring payments or OPEX. They will look for any reason, rational or otherwise. Licensing commitments aside, if you are a SaaS business and have been doing your job well, they should find only reasons to stay. Going forward, you can also do things to keep them committed.

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Zen and the right view of cloud technologies

On the path to the cloud, just as in life (as the Buddha would have us understand), one must submit our most cherished assumptions to rigorous questioning. We would make better decisions if we were clearer about the foundations of our own thinking. Cloud technology is a vast subject and this post tackles just a few assumptions, in the spirit of the DharmaHacker.

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