Better serve your customers by focusing on your employees
In financial services, the slightest discrepancy in rates can affect the success of transactional product offerings for customer or corporate clients, writes Megan Geyer, director, customer experience for financial services, NTT DATA.
Cost analysis is often king, where the battle for market share is routinely measured by the rate of account growth and customer retention. This outward-facing approach has always been an industry mainstay, but recent research is shedding light on what an inward facing approach can accomplish for banks—especially as they modernise aging legacy business models to integrate digital offerings.
The attitudes and feelings employees assign their employers can have far-reaching implications, as internal issues can manifest into external problems. These customer-facing challenges have the ability to damage a financial institutions’ brand in countless ways.
Employee experience is equal to customer experience
Now is the time for executive leadership to embrace and adapt to the evolving expectations of employees with just as much commitment as for customers. Many institutions discuss the importance of customer experience, but significantly fewer industry players are placing the right amount of focus where it belongs—on employee engagement.
Gallup, in a 2018 study, reported more than half of the American workforce remains disengaged with their jobs. Companies are aware that engaged employees reduce the associated high cost of turnover (again, focusing on the bottom line), but there is an additional upside to consider. Retention is directly linked to customer experience (and revenue).
An employee with longer tenure will have more relevant industry and company knowledge, of course, but they will also be more likely to exceed expectations in the softer skills of the job and navigate the company’s structure and policies more effectively. Similar studies also reveal that highly engaged workers report better overall customer experiences and satisfaction. The positive outcomes earned through strategic employee engagement efforts generate environments that foster trust among colleagues, as well as the external customers they interact with in their day-to-day tasks.
When a company shows they care about their employees, it’s typically reciprocated. Employees who feel valued, heard, and supported will feel more connected to their workplace and are more motivated to excel at their jobs. The impact of this is both directly and indirectly visible to customers. Institutions who value and promote employee experience (EX) initiatives see higher rates of customer experience (CX) success.
“They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou.
To implement real change in employee engagement, truer words have not been spoken. Employees know a token attempt when they see one and true employee engagement initiatives must reflect the meaning behind the change. Additional performance reviews are often an unsuccessful attempt at improving employee engagement. Why? Because they’re inexorably tied to cost analysis on both sides of the equation.
However, there are more effective and successful employee experience strategies that businesses can implement within their organisation to meet the demands of the modern workforce and create a more engaged employee base.
Represent employees in the c-suite
One strategic example is the creation of a role whose primary job is to improve and govern the end-to-end experience of employees. This is a role more and more institutions are adding to their executive suite, such as a chief experience officer. This person’s primary role is to be the advocate for the employee in a sea of competing business priorities. They facilitate collaboration across internal siloes, measure employee experience, identify key opportunities for improvement and innovation, govern dependencies across groups, and act as a catalyst for achieving optimal employee engagement.
Surveys and KPIs aren’t enough
Many banks survey their employees on a periodic basis. They also have monitoring tools and analytics that measure productivity, such as device performance or speed to complete a specific task. These tools rarely represent the human aspect of why issues are occurring and certainly don’t represent the prioritisation of solutions that better satisfy employees. The result? A disconnect between leadership believing they have insight into the employee experience while never truly understanding the source of pain points, preferences, needs, and motivations. This creates a rift where the employee’s perception is leadership does not care about their actual experience in the trenches.
Institutions must get as close to the real employee experience as possible—achievable by observing employees as they conduct their jobs in the workplace, asking them directly about their experiences and including them in the ideation process for solving problems. Leadership must create a culture of empathy and inclusion with individual employees—understanding their specific challenges, perspectives and expectations. This enables leaders to evolve an employee experience tailored directly to their needs.
Banks and other financial service institutions are fast approaching an inflection point. With all the focus on customer technology upgrades, employees experience is often not emphasised. Leadership must remember that by focusing on employee experience, they can better serve their customers. This isn’t a question of profit or people, but rather people in order to profit.
By Megan Geyer, director, customer experience for financial services, NTT DATA