Letter from a wannabe digital employee to his CEO

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Dear CEO,

You frequently take stands on our company’s digital transformation, either in the press or internally. That’s very kind of you and the least politeness from our part is not to leave your words without a response. As a matter of fact I’m sure that your purpose, through these messages, is to generate more engagement and not to deliver a one-way message. That’s how the digital world you want to make us enter works, doesn’t it ?

So I took my prefered pen to write this letter. Is a letter the most appropriate form of communication ? Of course. What matters in a digital world is to chose the right channel for the right message to the right person and everyone knows you have your email printed by you assistant. That’s also the reason why that even if it does not generate any engagement nor it’s seen as meaningful by anyone, the good side of your stands is to make us laugh. It’s better than cry while wondering if there’s a pilot in the plane.

I could have send this letter to our CDO – Chief Digital Officer – too but I didn’t,  by compassion. Poor man : he knows exactly where he wants to head to but the more he moves forward the less you understand what he does so it looks like he gets less and less support from his peers from the C-Suite. He’s surely the one to pity because he’s on the front line in the media and I would not like to add to his disarray.

So you’re telling us that we are going to meet the digital challenge and act as leaders. That, from now on, the customers is our main focus. That we must meet his need and treat him with all the attention he deserves. That we must move as one. That we must keep up with times. Seriously. What do you think we’ve been thinking about during the last 20 years I’ve been working for this company ? But I’m happy to see that this king of concern is not only for those who see the customer everyday.

I’m personally happy to take the digital path and follow you. Ok…in fact I’d really like to to follow me. I’m neither a gen Y nor Z but I’ve been using all these technologies for 10 years and they’re part of my life now. It’s not a big deal. Except at work. As a matter of fact digital technologies make this easier in my life and help me to better interact with others. At work they help be to be opposite of what my manager, our processes  and my performance review want me to be. Call me schizo, but I leave my digital culture in my locker every morning when I step in the office. But you would know know that if you used to practice.

Ok. Maybe I’m teasing too much. But there’s something I’d really like to talk you about.

You told us that customer experience was key to success. Feel relieved : we do all agree. None of us ever woke us in the morning saying “I’m gonna make the customer day hell”. We’re humans and hurting others is neither satisfactory nor fulfilling. I’m not saying that sometimes we did not disappoint the customer, that we did not do anything we could. But it was not in purpose. First, because we follow the rules. Second because we deal with the performance indicators we have. Third, we do with what we have : it’s not easy to come up with solutions we don’t know, to find help from people we don’t know, using tools we don’t have.

My job is changing and if I don’t take the right path I’ll become obsolete. But what’s new in my work ? What behaviors do you want me to have ? What are my new goals ? In shot, what do I do when I’m at work, and what do I rely on to do it. You told us “customers must live new experiences and I’m counting on you”. At the very moment you said that, in a large auditorium at our last convention we all found this geat. But on the next monday morning, we realized that we did not know where to go and how.

Ok. I’m exaggerating. We had digital courses. We were told how the company would like  to help the customer. I was told how I could help the company with all the apps that will make it easier to do my reporting and follow the process. But nothing about how I’m supposed to help the customer or how the company is going to help me.

We made application for everybody. Except for me. I got new apps as an user, but not as a person to help and support. There are benefits for the management, for the customer tool. We removed friction in the customer relationship and the way we meet goals…at least theoretically. Practically, the friction has not been removed, it’s been moved to me.

You’ll see the meaning of “experience” in a dictionary. Sometimes I think that you’re mistaking it with experiment. Building experiences for the customer and experimenting on the employee. I get it : my new job is to be a guinea pig !

So what about my experience ? Making my work meaningful, removing useless complication, make me more efficient, providing me with the technology, human and managerial context to help me keeping the brand promise.

I asked my manager. He seemed to be a little bit more advanced that I was but not much more. So he asked his own manager, who was a little but more advanced…but not that much. That’s why I’m writing to you.

In fact we’re both in the same situation. Even vague, the party line is known. But know one knows what to do in front of those he must care about. Me in front of my client. My manager in front of me. His manager in front of him. Etc?

So let me make a suggestion if we want digital transformation to mean something for all of us and, most of all, become something true. Start from the relationship and the interactions I have with the customer. Decide what should happen and then find out what I need to get there and what’s preventing me from getting there. Starting from this point, we’ll se what my manager need..and so one.

Maybe I missed something. Maybe my mind made a break while I was listening to one your speeches, but something is lacking : what does all this stuff mean for the people in front of the customer. What should they achieve ? How ? With what ?

We could use any possible technology, agree on a global vision, everything starts with an employee in front of a customer, either physically or through any media.

I’d love to go digital, to make my work change. It looks fulfilling, promising and, anyway, it’s unavoidable. I’d only like some help to figure out wat it means in my day to day work and how you’re going to empower me, how you’re going to make things happen.

I don’t think we’ll meet one day at the HQ. Not either on our internal social network you’re not using. But one may you want to visit me, I’d be happy to organize a “one day in the life” session for your.

Digitally yours.

A digital employee in a work that is not in a company that would like to be.

Photo credit: writing a love letter from NotarYES via Shutterstock

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Bertrand DUPERRINhttps://www.duperrin.com/english
Head of Employee and Client Experience @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
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