Five ways how workforce can drive customer experience

20 February 2020 4 min. read
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Consulting firm North Highland examined five key ways that the workforce can power customer experience (CX) strategies in a recent report, “Driving Workforce-Powered Customer-Led Transformations.”

According to the firm’s research, nearly 90% of business leaders say that market and customer preferences are moving faster than ever before. Keeping up with the pace of change means that companies need to change their culture to one of “always-on” transformation.

CX strategies are central in this sort of market, with organizations seeking to create customer-led operations where internal priorities are shaped by what’s occurring in the customer’s world. According to North Highland, an organization’s workforce is central to CX strategy, and there are five key opportunities for human capital to power CX differentiation within an always-on transformation context.

1. Cultivating talent to lay the groundwork for continuous change

The most prevalent barrier to addressing CX is a lack of knowledge or skills among employees. Leaders know that having the right talent for transformation is imperative, with 24% of survey respondents saying talent management and development is a much higher priority than last year.

Team design is also important, with integration and collaboration accelerating the development of skills across teams. “By breaking down silos between functions, employees can share data and collaborate around solutions, customer outcomes, and customer-oriented key performance indicators (KPIs), facilitating the exchange and development of skills across the workforce,” the report notes.

9 in 10 business leaders agree customers changing faster than ever

2. Delivering a compelling employee experience (EX) to foster the adoption of a continuous transformation mindset

With companies expecting more of their employees in terms of operating and collaborating, employees will also expect more, including more autonomy, choice, meaning, and empathy. The HR function is central, and needs to be agile, adaptive, and able to partner across teams to make sure that the workforce is empowered.

However, North Highland’s report found that emphasis on EX has declined in the past year as organizations have lost confidence in its attainability. One barrier is designing EX for multiple generations, with only 17% of leaders saying they feel very prepared to cater to different generations of the workforce.

3. Garnering alignment to accelerate buy-in and embed the adoption of change

Effective CX transformation is a lot more feasible when there is alignment across the workforce. Organizations can build alignment by involving employees at the outset, and including them in the design of change solutions. The research revealed that 47% of respondents say that they would provide greater opportunities for impacted employees to be involved in the design of change solutions.

4. Applying insights to focus the workforce on priority CX activities and continuous improvements

Eighty-one percent of respondents said that data and analytics is a strategic priority, and 97% think that it can yield a competitive advantage. However, only 28% feel very prepared to address it.

One of the key benefits of D&A for always-on transformation, according to North Highland, is that it can connect functional groups and promote efficiency and certainty in decision making. The report highlights one organization (DISH Network) which used messaging technology to enable technicians to look up parts and connect with subject matter experts in real time. The information sharing improved first-time fix rates and reduced job overruns.

Catalysts driving change in strategic priorities

5. Promoting customer-oriented workforce adaptability through ways of working

According to the report, leaders often overlook the importance of enabling people to work in new and different ways. Implementing agile methods, for example, can boost efficiency and allow for more customer-responsive products and services.

However, just 29% see ways of working as a factor driving change in strategic priorities, compared to 38% who see digital adoption as a catalyst. This means leaders are more focused on technology solutions to achieve their aims than on the shifts required in their workforce.

Ways of working are tied to organizational culture, so they must be embedded in a culture that embraces continuous, customer-led change. “In this environment, employee actions are consistently fueled by customer feedback in the form of insights shaped by behavior, purchase history, and more,” the report states.