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Tagged: staff

Left Brain, Right Brain: Aligning Internal Culture and Customer Analytics

August 5, 2016

A version of this post was featured by influential Customer Experience speaker and teacher Shep Hyken as a guest blog in August 2016. See it here.

Data inspires confidence because it serves as a rational, objective bottom line that provides order and structure to the customer experience. It appeals to the logical, pattern-oriented left brain, involved in making decisions that shape the customer experience. But customer analytics have more to tell you than scores alone. By reading between the lines, the shape of your company’s internal culture can emerge.

billiard balls in alignment, representing alignment of a company's internal cultureWhy is internal culture relevant?

Think of data as representing the ongoing feedback loop between a company’s internal culture and its customers. This loop runs smoothly when the culture is well aligned with the customers’ needs, wants, and expectations. A productive, motivated, well-informed staff produces satisfied customers, and vice versa.

If the culture is misaligned, though – if priorities are skewed, if there is distrust between leadership and employees, if there are significant obstacles to cooperation across departments, if employees don’t feel valued and morale is low – the impact on customer service is direct and immediate. Inefficient processes, gaps in information and communication, and employees who are just ‘going through the motions’ are all symptoms of a unhealthy internal culture that needs attention.

Customers tend not to tolerate these symptoms for long. Remember, a single negative interaction with your business can sour a customer’s opinion and undo a long history of positive interactions in a matter of minutes. Studies have shown that negative experiences have more staying power than positive ones; not only are people more likely to remember them, they are more likely to tell others about them, too. Social media has given customers a megaphone for complaints that they might otherwise just have grumbled about under their breath.

If data represents the left brain, culture represents the right brain.

Together, these elements form the foundation of customer experience management.

Customer analytics, used appropriately, can be the healing salve for a broken internal culture. By examining the trends, gaps, and other insights captured within the data, all employees, from upper management down to the individual customer service representatives, get a clear sense of the goals they are working toward as a team and what they can do to affect positive change.

This requires a degree of transparency between those who have access to the data and who make decisions, and those who carry out those decisions in their daily interactions with customers. A stern top-down directive given without context or reason is easily ignored or deprioritized, while one that is presented as a productive initiative backed by solid information is more motivating and harder to argue with.

Of course, transparency must go both ways if the staff is to work as a team. Employees at all levels of the company should feel empowered to ask questions, make suggestions, or otherwise participate in the shaping of the culture, and not just be beholden to policies. By valuing the voice of your employees, especially those who are in the position to directly interact with customers, you create an internal culture that nourishes the customer experience – and the data is bound to reflect that.

As a right-brain, intuitive element of the customer experience, cultural alignment can be felt as much as observed. Take this opportunity to do a “gut check” about the culture in your office and within the enterprise as a whole. Do you notice any symptoms? Have they emerged recently, or have they persisted, unattended, for some time? Do you feel empowered to do anything about them?

And remember, whether you need a complete diagnosis, a check-up, or an emergency treatment, CSP is always on call.

10 Examples of Employee Engagement in Action

March 9, 2016

The ongoing cycle of customer experience success is comprised of four main influencers: Employees, Customers, Management, and Data. In this series, CSP examines the Employee segment of that cycle and the benefits of focusing on internal culture to drive success.

One of the main advantages of measuring employee engagement is the ability to take something intangible – sense of purpose, satisfaction, and commitment – and turn it into solid data. With this knowledge, businesses can pave a way forward, continuing to rely on regularly updated data to evaluate progress and adjust as necessary.

The Psychology of Engagement

Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” is a staple of human developmental psychology.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

This breakdown of basic, universal human needs provides a useful framework for understanding employee engagement. Let’s take a look at some examples of the key drivers of employee satisfaction, how they correlate with different needs, and what they look like in action (or absence).

Key Driver of Engagement Satisfies This Need Effect on Employee Performance
“My work space is comfortable, and I have the tools and resources I need.” Physiological
  • When this need is met, employees look forward to coming to work and can perform more productively.
  • When this need is not met, employees may dread their time at work and not accomplish as much each day.
“I am fairly compensated with salary and benefits.” Physiological
Esteem
  • When this need is met, employees are likely to remain committed to the company and don’t feel taken advantage of.
  • When this need is not met, employees may become suspicious of or competitive with each other, or begin looking for other employment.
“I feel confident in my job security with this company.” Safety
  • When this need is met, employees can relax and bring their best effort to their jobs, knowing they will still be there tomorrow.
  • When this need is not met, employees may be paranoid, insecure, and less devoted to doing their best.
“I can bring up concerns and ideas to my supervisors” Safety
Esteem
  • When this need is met, employees trust management to be open to their ideas, suggestions, and even criticism.
  • When this need is not met, employees may hesitate to be proactive, contribute solutions, or bring attention to problem areas for fear that it could backfire on them.
“I feel well-informed by what is going on at this company.” Belonging
Esteem
  • When this need is met, employees feel they are connected to the big picture and are motivated to work towards common goals.
  • When this need is not met, employees may become distrustful or disillusioned, and performance can suffer because they “don’t see the point” of their jobs.
“There is a strong sense of teamwork here.” Belonging
  • When this need is met, employees communicate well with each other and with management, and inter-office conflict is kept to a minimum and handled effectively.
  • When this need is not met, tensions can rise between team members or management, and productivity takes a backseat to conflict resolution.
“This company recognizes and rewards people who are doing their jobs well.” Esteem
Belonging
  • When this need is met, employees strive to earn the company’s recognition and are supportive of their team members who do the same.
  • When this need is not met – or if it is met unfairly, such as favoritism – employees may become less productive or unhealthily competitive with one another.
“This company is highly respected in the industry and/or by the public.” Esteem
  • When this need is met, employees take pride in their work and in their roles in supporting the company’s success.
  • When this need is not met, employees may feel ashamed or embarrassed to say that they work for this company, and possibly seek out positions with better-regarded employers.
“I feel empowered to make decisions on my own.” Self-actualization
  • When this need is met, problems and situations are handled effectively, swiftly, and with the least amount of drama.
  • When this need is not met, the employee feels – and acts – as though their hands are literally tied, and productivity suffers because they are always waiting for someone else to act first.
“There is a clear path for promotion or growth from my current position.” Self-actualization
Safety
  • When this need is met, employees draw extra motivation from the possibility of advancement and seek to impress management by proving their worth.
  • When this need is not met, employees may feel underappreciated or stifled, and are open to other opportunities with more promise.
These are just a handful of more than 40 attributes CSP considers when guiding our clients to improve employee engagement.

While no single area of need is more important than all of the others, all of these needs are interrelated and depend on each other to promote optimal employee engagement. The most influential drivers of engagement will vary from workplace to workplace, depending on factors like staff demographics, fluctuations in the economy, and change within the company. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to nurturing engagement. It must be measured and addressed on a case-by-case basis to produce results.


 

More posts on internal culture and employee engagement: