Using the customer experience to crash test the employee experience

In a previous post I took a photograph of everyone’s daily experience in their personal life ,as a consumer/customer and invited to compare it to what most people experience once they walk through the office door.

So I invite you to link the post I mention and now let’s look at what we see in too many businesses.

Little accessible information

Although I find that enormous progress has been made, information in the workplace is not sufficiently available or accessible. This means that we have come a long way.

And there’s no shortage of tools: from Office 365 to Google Suite to Workplace in a different style and I’m forgetting a considerable list, the tools exist and, today, are deployed in most organizations.

But tools are worthless without will, without use. Today there is no good reason for any work document to be stored on a personal hard drive and not in a shared or shareable space belonging to a team or project team. I’m terrified that files are still circulating by email, being passed around from person to person so that everyone can do their updates. Or that in a project a person goes hunting for a document that he needs and that is held by a colleague who jealously guards it on his disk while the document in question should logically belong to the team and not to the individual.

It is not a question of tools but of culture and practices. Working style. The “knowledge is power” syndrome dies hard.

And even outside the projects themselves, how many employees, especially but not only newcomers, waste time finding basic information about the company and life in it. How I apply for leave, how I access training facilities, how I co-opt, what is the process for doing this or that…In 2020 it is incredible that no simple-to-use body of information is being put in place. Everything is scattered on different intranets when you’ve taken the trouble to make it accessible and there’s no need to think about getting by with the search engines that are available.

To have, in my company, set up this ” company wikipedia ” I can testify of its usefulness and its value.

The beginning of personalization

In the most mature companies, intranets have, over the last ten years or so, taken the turn to personalization. However, this mainly concerns large companies, with medium and medium-sized companies lagging behind.

But it remains a customization based on the profession and/or the geography, and it is mainly about information.

We should be able to go much further on the working interfaces: the same tool can be used by different populations but in different ways and therefore the same functionalities should not be highlighted. All of this is done in a logic of efficiency.

I’m also thinking about the personalization of the work environment. I’m not even talking about using the data, just giving the user more power over his configuration. Even digital the work environment is like a desk: not everyone is efficient in the same configuration, having the same things placed and stowed in the same place.

As for the data, it is far from being used sufficiently to personalize certain services offered to employees, for example. The most obvious example is training, but the list is long.

Collaboration at the embryonic stage

It didn’t take a digital transformation or experience employee to make collaboration a big corporate cause. But does it work? I will say better than before, but still imperfectly and less spontaneously than in life outside the company.

The technology exists. It is available in all large companies, less so in smaller ones, and that is unfortunate. But it’s less about tools than it is about culture, DNA or even processes.

Here again, the syndrome of the boss for whom information is power is worth mentioning. But there are also a number of processes that are not designed so that information is shared by default with the right people, that have not been adapted following the deployment of collaborative tools. The list is long.

Let’s not forget the side effects of organizational, management and HR models that too often put people in competition with each other, killing any willingness to help each other.

Feedback: A too weak trend

If the feedback culture works well in our private lives, it is not yet the case in companies, or not sufficiently so. And yet it is both a necessity and a demand.

A necessity because we all need to know quickly what we have done right or wrong. Whether it makes us happy or not. Among the younger generations it is even seen as essential to progress and correct mistakes quickly. It is just as important for older people, but obviously less expressed: the myth of the pseudo-infallibility of the manager, the expert or the elder dies hard.

Note that this exists in multidirectional in the case of 360° evaluations or in unidirectional in OKRs. But how many companies are actually doing all this?

But the fact is that both the business and the individuals need regular feedback, between manager and employee, between colleagues…it doesn’t matter the hierarchical relationship, the important thing is that these people have worked together on a subject.

A hierarchical structure that is too rigid

Adapting the structure to the need and skills is as beautiful on paper but is rarely the reality. Companies are designed and organized to run from the top down. To answer questions from the top down. To solve problems from the top down.

The reality is that when a project is stalled for whatever reason it is most often because someone down at the bottom has a question or a problem and if they ask for help from above or beside them and they are rarely listened to and taken into account because businesses are not organized for that and their topics are ranked as non-priority. Until it becomes critical enough to become everyone’s problem…and then they get blamed for it.

Conversely, there has even been an effort to create complicated structures that make companies less and less efficient by superimposing, for example, matrix and hierarchical organization.

A problem doesn’t adapt to your organization and it doesn’t care about it. Hoping that it will miraculously follow your processes is an illusion. It is up to the organisation to be able to adapt itself in an adhoc way to each case and to each individual to accept changes in role with humility.

Misguided gamification

The good news is that gamification has been brought into the workplace. The bad news is it may not have gotten in the right way. Very often it entered through training and some other processes in which it was difficult to engage employees.

But has the meaning, relevance and usefulness of the training and process in question been questioned? Shouldn’t they have been simplified instead of gamified?

I’ve always found that in businesses, gamification was always a good answer (better engaging) to a bad question (forcing to adopt the existing rather than adapting or transforming it).

Robots still not very present

Except in the HR world (and even …) chatbots have not yet taken their place in the business. And here I won’t be too critical because considering the quality of the few things I’ve seen, it’s not bad news. The imperfection in a marketing gadget (even if it was outrageously expensive) is more acceptable than for an internal tool.

In fact, some like Google come back from it. The cause is, in my opinion, simple. The client wanted to do multi-purpose chatbot, which led to a specialty of large organizations: Rube Goldberg machine.

However, no matter what form it will take, there is a path to be explored for better assistance, better support for the employee in a large number of tasks, formalities to be accomplished, etc.

Behind the notion of robot that we can discuss but which is only the form, there remains the substance which is artificial intelligence. And there is real potential there.

Where is the employee service?

I will not dwell on the fact that many of the internal tools available to the employee in the workplace are still too complicated and far from “one need = one simple app”. But we’re on the right track: historical software publishers are getting closer and closer to the level of experience offered by pure digital players. Even surpassing it.

Some of them also ended up stopping the race for Rube Goldberg machines that had been imposed on them by customers who wanted a single tool that would do it for everything. Microsoft’s example with Office 365 is a step in the right direction: no more trying to sell us Sharepoint as a multi-purpose collaborative tool. Today’s offer is more granular, composed of tools that do just one thing but claim to do it well and, on the other hand, are extremely integrated with each other.

However, in terms of philosophy there is still a gap to be filled. Almost everything that is made available to the employee starts from the principle that if he follows the company’s processes everything will be fine and that he doesn’t have any problem to solve, whether it is a problem in a project, in his job or, worse, a problem linked to the company, whether it is an HR or administrative problem, it doesn’t matter. But that’s not the real life. We can tolerate that an employee spends time and energy to help a customer, not to fight against his organization and its convoluted processes to the detriment of the customer.

While everyone finds it normal that there should be customer service, while there is at least some agreement on the symmetry of attention, we are far from a service orientation for the employee and in the end everyone loses out: employee, customer and therefore ultimately the business.

The so-called support functions have been made efficient and productive at the expense of employees. But we’ll talk about that in detail another time.

It’s (almost) all about design

Today there isn’t a single company that doesn’t scrape together designers to design / rethink the experiences / products / services it offers its clients.

How many do the same for their internal processes / services?

That says it all.

Digital is not a way of life, it’s about technology

Since everyone has been in agreement on the subject for so long, it is surprising that things have changed so little. If the digital customer experience works, it’s because technology has been put at the service of the journey, of the design, of a way of living and behaving.

If digital transformation has generally remained on the company’s doorstep, it is because the opposite has been done. The individual goes through the office door, his uses remain in the cloakroom.

Well, there you go. By reading this post and the one before it, you can probably see why :

  • The business can no longer keep up with the speed of the outside world and especially with that of the customer.
  • The employee is less and less flourishing and disengages himself.

Hence the urgency to act.

Photo : Crash Test by Benoist via Shutterstock

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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