Michael Reiserer, MD EASY Software Germany, highlights findings from a recent UK survey that reveal many companies are making good progress towards employee and supplier experience management, but there is still work to be done.
Most UK firms are doing a good job of collecting, analysing and enhancing customer experience (CX). And many are now turning their attention to employee and supplier experience, according to a recent report. A stable, high performing workforce is key to providing good customer service, so companies are placing increasing importance on attracting and retaining talent. Robust and effective supplier relationships also contribute hugely to delivering the best customer experience.
Effective customer relationship management demands a 360° view of experience management. The process of monitoring every interaction customers experience with a company or organisation, is vital to spot opportunities for improvement in customer service and to drive retention.
The goal is to make it easy for customers to deal with the organisation. Research carried out in March 2020 shows UK businesses are increasingly recognising that it is at least as important to give employees and suppliers a good experience1.
The research revealed that the majority of medium to large UK firms are doing well in terms of capturing experience data, including employee and other key partner and employee stakeholder sentiment. Three quarters (76%) of UK firms collect customer experience data of some kind, while 60% collect employee satisfaction data. For suppliers and business partners in the supply chain, experience management drops to 40% of surveyed organisations, although a further 40% have plans to do so.
Enhancing experience management for employees and suppliers
While these statistics are encouraging, most UK firms could do so much more to enhance experience management. Typically, monitoring, managing and improving experiences for employees and suppliers or business partners is not as mature a discipline as customer relationship management.
Although HR departments will review employee satisfaction as part of annual appraisals, and procurement teams will have an idea about whether suppliers are being paid on time or have sufficient insight into future demand, much of this feedback is ad hoc. It isn’t necessarily being fed back into plans for improving processes, or IT systems, which could better support employees or suppliers as they try to complete tasks or find answers to queries.
In the best-case scenarios, employees and suppliers should be able to serve themselves with information, and complete routine tasks, without the need to wait for help from an intermediary. That action might be to book time off or look up old payslips, in the case of an employee engaging with the HR department. This could even be via a mobile device from home. In the case of a supplier, it might be checking the status of an invoice or payment, or being able to verify order details, via a secure portal.
As well as empowering individuals to fulfil tasks at their own convenience so that they can move on with other things they need to do, intuitive self-service reduces the need for departmental administrators to become involved in manually looking up information in response to incoming queries. This in turn eases the demand on internal resources, increasing operational productivity and cost efficiency, with a positive impact on business performance.
Readiness for 360° experience measurement
Yet, to be able to deliver improvements, companies must first know where their weak points are. They must be able to identify where current experiences are not hitting the mark – whether for customers and, in the fuller 360° scenario, for employees and for suppliers/partners.
As well as asking survey participants about their readiness for 360° experience measurement and management in their organisations, and the potential barriers to enabling this, the research looked at this topic in the context of other business priorities and concerns. These included Brexit and Covid-19, which at the time of the research had begun to present as a significant domestic as well as an international crisis.
The primary reason given for tracking experience data is to improve relationships – in particular by driving better interactions. Half (51%) of managers agree that this is the goal and a further third (33%) agree strongly. A similar proportion (51%) agree (and a further 31% strongly agree) that experience insights could help them optimise their operations.
Perceived challenges to these endeavours include the cost and time investment involved to collect and analyse experience data (seen as a barrier for nearly 60% of respondents); the privacy/regulatory implications of capturing this data (seen to be an even greater issue – 45% agree, and a further 26% strongly). These issues are followed by practical issues including inadequate IT capabilities; poor data quality/confidence; and the lack of skills and processes for collecting and analysing the data.
Uncovering blind spots
The research results also delivered qualitative insight into companies’ reasons for collecting experience data from all stakeholders – and the risks of not doing so. Reasons for seeking 360° feedback about a company range from the need to avoid tunnel vision, reveal potential blind spots about the business and to gain an honest and comprehensive insight into perceptions of the company and its operations, which could not be gained by other means.
Failure to capture employee and supplier experiences fully may contribute to creating a perception that the organisation does not care or is merely going through the motions when it comes to delivering what people need. Effective experience management is hugely important as we move from a shareholder to a stakeholder society – a trend that the impact of COVID-19 is only going to accelerate .
The new stakeholder-focussed society will recognise that all stakeholders, whether staff, customers, suppliers or business partners, have an impact on business success. In the post-pandemic era, the ability to monitor and respond to all stakeholder needs, from customers to employees, will determine future success.
About the Research Study
EASY Software commissioned an online Experience Management study to gauge the extent to which UK businesses are prioritising and measuring people’s experience of their operations, across different stakeholder groups. The research was conducted independently by Censuswide in March 2020. Respondents were in middle or senior management roles at over 500 companies with 100 or more employees, spanning the Technology, Telecommunications, Finance, Manufacturing and Retail sectors.
About the Author
Michael C. Reiserer is MD of EASY Software Germany. He founds and participates in innovative software start-ups, such as Apinauten GmbH. You can contact Michael Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information visit www.easy-software.com.