At this point, we’ve blogged a bit about customer experience (a close cousin of customer service) and done even more on employee engagement. Might be time to find the intersection point of those issues.
Because we’re self-absorbed (the millennial mindset?), let’s stay with us for one second. While you could argue that everything we do in terms of socially-driven algorithms for call center agent development would be classified as “employee engagement,” we don’t actually have any of our “solutions” named that. The closest might be employee motivation and recognition software.
But if what we do is essentially employee engagement and that seems to be a hot term of the past 5-10 years, why don’t we call one of our programs just that?
It’s because around here, we struggle with buzzwords.
The problem with employee engagement is many-fold at most companies. A few of the key issues:
It’s typically lip service from executives in meetings and then not practiced
- Because HR usually owns it, people begin to care less
- If it’s routed through a software program, many managers begin to grouse, “this is another thing I have to manage”
- It’s hard to measure, so it doesn’t get as much attention up the chain
- Many men (still mostly men) who come to run companies remember taking their licks as they rose up the ladder, so “engaging employees” seems fluffy to them
That’s a small smattering of the problems with how most companies approach employee engagement.
The second big bucket of problems is in execution. Usually it’s non-intuitive software suites, gamified platforms, etc. While the technology behind them may be novel (good), the core issue is that usually these employee engagement software concepts make it easier for managers to avoid direct reports, instead interacting with them through a platform — not face-to-face. As recent research has indicated face to face communication is 34x more effective than email/platforms, this is a problem.
That’s why we didn’t want to call any of our solutions “employee engagement.” We think it ratchets up the wrong connotation with decision-makers.
The thing is, though, obviously employee engagement is going to improve customer service. It’s completely natural. If employees like their job and have context/priorities from their boss, they perform better. The end customer feels/hears that. It’s not brain surgery by any means. Google did a multi-year study on effective management called Project Oxygen and that was essentially the key result: better managers = more engaged employees = better customer relationships = more money. Unfortunately, a lot of companies seem to miss this.
So what’s the difference between what we do around employee engagement and what we described above?
Well, our programs actually connect people together — peer coaching, resilience approaches, etc. It encourages connection at the agent level and between managers/supervisors and agents. It’s not a platform where you hide out with an avatar and assign points per task. It’s built on tech, but the human connection pieces are what make it stand out.
Much like how we approach gamification, then, we don’t approach employee engagement in the way you might think. But we know employee engagement will improve customer service, so long as we’re all pursuing the right kind of employee engagement.