Muhammed Omar, Country Manager, Africa, ServiceNow.
You have a problem with a service, so you contact the provider. The service agent is friendly and tries to be helpful, but someone else in the organization needs to take action to resolve your issue. Only, it’s not so apparent, and the agent has to clumsily discover this reality by talking to you. They juggle multiple screens and apps while trying to contact other people who can speed up the resolution, hoping to show you that they care and want to address your concerns.
This scenario creates a poor customer experience. Bad customer experience stems from bad employee experience. While companies pay considerable attention to customer satisfaction, employees must settle for fractured systems, operational silos and incomplete information that combine to make their jobs much more difficult.
“Employee and customer experiences are much closer today than they have ever been in the past,” says Muhammed Omar, who is Country Director for Africa at ServiceNow. “Business transformation is about delivering superior digital experiences. When we look at those experiences, it comes down to both the customer as the consumer of the service, as well as the internal employee. If you have an employee experience superior internally, which allows the employee to generate value for the customer.”
Why employee experiences fall short
According to Gartner, only 13% of employees are fully satisfied with their experience, leading to more attrition and burnout, not to mention customer experience failures. A competitive job market incentivizes more companies to make the change, although they still find meeting employee expectations complex and may even be unsustainable.
When companies try to solve employee problems through isolated interventions, they won’t get far. A good employee experience requires the same thing as a good customer experience: it must be consistent, holistic and integrated.
“Organizations have invested in the employee experience to the point where we are seeing a number of them appoint people whose primary responsibility is to ensure that the employee experience is respected,” says Omar. “But many companies still have multiple portal solutions and back-end applications, and it becomes very complex and confusing. Providing a single point of interface for the employee for all required services is essential.”
The employee experience combines multiple channels and touchpoints in an organization: IT, HR, facilities and legal are some of the internal departments that qualify under its banner. Onboarding a new employee is a clear example: this journey is often bogged down by paperwork, delays, and numerous manual processes, all of which require consolidation and automation.
Correcting employee and customer experiences
Service management platforms have cut their teeth in all of these areas and leading vendors are now combining them with customer experience systems to provide the complete answer. Omar distills the necessary functionality of such a solution into four key areas:
- One pane of glass: Front-end, middle, and back-end applications, processes, and interfaces consolidate into a single omnichannel platform for customers and employees.
- Context: The information presented to employees as examples is contextual to their current needs, including unique elements based on location and special dates, such as holidays.
- Self-service: Employees and customers can submit new service requests or log issues encountered, which can be tracked. On top of that, they can locate answers if they want, using search functions to locate specific information.
- Process Automation: Manual processes often slow and interrupt experiences – proper automation front, middle and back end makes a definite difference. For example, a customer request or issue can be tracked from a single interface as it is handled from one-tier to two-tier support seamlessly without the customer having to call. contact center for an update.
These four principles set the foundation for a good overall experience with a company, says Omar: “Breaking down the silos between the front, middle and back office is what creates the fundamental challenge of delivering superior customer experiences. Success starts when you combine them through one platform and deliver an omnichannel experience.”
Concepts such as omnichannel are more easily associated with customers. Yet there is a fine line separating customer and employee experiences, and the same technologies can serve both. More so, a platform solution ensures that they are two sides of the same coin, creating an unbroken thread for everyone. Platform services bring even more to the table, such as in-depth reporting and analytics, chatbots, artificial intelligence, mobile support, and natural language processing.
Indeed, the platform is why we can even have this conversation, says Omar: “A lot of what we do in service management didn’t exist 10 or 15 years ago. -forms have helped create ubiquity that you can bring anywhere in your business – front, middle, back and with the customer. That’s why we can talk about employee and customer experiences in the same breath. Now they can come from the same foundation and benefit from the same advantages. One becomes the extension of the other.
To improve your customer experience, look at your employee experience. Is it fractured, slow and full of frustration? The same tools that delight customers can help employees. Anything that gets in the way of employees doing a satisfying job inevitably embitters your customers. Good customer experiences stem from good employee experiences – and both are built on the foundation of an integrated, omnichannel service platform.