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Retaining the right people in a world of boundless choice

Retaining the right people in a world of boundless choice

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Dustin Laidsaar, Strategic Business Consultant for Avaya, a cloud communications technology company, explores how organizational leaders can respond to the challenges of keeping employees satisfied and retain the attention of their customers.

Customer experience is changing to a degree we have not witnessed before. Individuals now have a seemingly endless list of expectations when interacting with a brand.

Take the exploding popularity of Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) services as an example of this shift.

Dustin Laidsaar, Strategic Business Consultant for Avaya

People want to receive items before they have paid for them, to complete transactions with the touch of a button, while also having iron-clad assurances around the security of their information. Today, it’s all about operating on the customer’s terms, not the company’s.

It would be natural for business heads to approach servicing the needs of today’s customers with a degree of trepidation. Indeed, there is no silver bullet for meeting this challenge.

But there is a crucial element that is often overlooked when designing the customer journey and that’s the employee experience. When employees are engaged and empowered, they go the extra yard to improve customer interactions and drive results.

Recent research from Gallup found that satisfied employees are three times more likely to resolve customer issues than those who are less engaged or motivated.

While revamping the employee experience is not an overnight process, there are initial steps that can be taken to make your staff not only more productive but also more satisfied at the workplace and ultimately add more value to your customer experience initiatives.

Let them focus on what’s important

Let’s face it – it is almost impossible for staff to absorb themselves in meaningful work and provide value to customers when they are forced to shift through endless applications looking for resources, or are overloaded with time-consuming administrative work.

It’s critical staff feel supported to reach their professional potential; not only kick personal goals but to better connect with colleagues and focus on developing spontaneous creative ideas.

Automation and Artificial Intelligence can be leveraged to take over routine tasks, whether it’s typing the minutes of meeting or transcribing customer calls, while staff focus on actually servicing customers’ needs.

AI-enabled tools can also help with dissolving the departmental siloes that keep teams separated and customer queries from being addressed. In one example, it allows subject matter experts to be called upon at any time to assist with resolving customer queries even though they aren’t on the front line of customer service.

The insurance industry, for example, would benefit greatly by bringing back-office experts into the customer service front line. Actuaries make changes to premiums, but it’s usually only by the time the customer makes contact that the customer service agent on the other side knows anything about these changes and is tasked with providing a solution.

Skills-based routing can identify subtle patterns within human interactions and draw upon customers’ demographic information, credit card usage and travel habits to intelligently match them with the employees best suited to resolve the enquiry.

Can you see how this would ensure teams are aligned towards a common purpose and that customers feel more understood?

Let’s get flexible

The pandemic completely upended the traditional office-based work week and employees now have expectations over the location, schedule and content of their days. According to Gartner, almost half of employees now expect this flexibility over work arrangements.

We are now operating in a time of work-life integration, where the lines between the home and office have irrevocably blurred. Organizations are obliged to operate within this reality or risk losing staff to competitors.

An example of accommodating work-life integration could be allowing staff to manage their workday directly from personal devices, given that mobile phones are among the accepted and often even preferred way to communicate and complete jobs.

Employees also need more than just a virtual meeting room to form ideas, retain information and raise their hand to ask for help from supervisors. While working from home, they should be empowered to connect and collaborate in a way that is seamlessly integrated with their digital lives, all within one place rather than switching between several collaboration apps.

When it comes to creating an environment customers and employees want to revisit in a world of boundless choice, we need to go beyond the stop-gap measures that were hastily rolled out in 2020 and do not cater to the expansive needs of today.

People are quick to recognize hollow gestures and it’s important we start converting the lessons of the last two years into meaningful action to fortify ourselves against the challenges of the future, latch on to opportunities and have the right people with us for the journey.

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