How the world's best CX leaders run their Voice of the Employee programme

How the world's best CX leaders approach their Voice of the Employee initiatives

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By analysing the work of customer experience leaders from big brands including Amazon, M&G and Nedbank, we're able to identify how some of the world's most successful customer experience programmes approach their Voice of the Employee initiatives.

2nd Feb 2022
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Esteemed HR analyst Josh Bersin says that Voice of the Employee is the ‘most important topic in business’ right now.

But while Bersin’s belief is that HR leaders should have ownership of Voice of the Employee (VoE), it’s long been mooted outside of HR circles that VoE programmes should fall under the mandate of the customer experience leader as well; due in main to the evidence of there being a direct link between positive employee engagement and CX success.

The other crucial aspect is the feedback loop that needs to exist between customer, organisation and employee. As Confirmit’s Chris Brown explains, the coronavirus pandemic has shone a spotlight on the necessity to have these vital pillars of feedback working in harmony:   

“If ever there was a good time for customer experience and employee experience to work in unison, it is now. 

“Ensuring that you have built and sustained clear dialogue with employees during this time will enable you to ask those at the frontline to act as a gateway between customers and the business.

“It means that [employees] are more willing to seek and share insights about the customer experience which could make a critical contribution to strategic business planning as [coronavirus] hopefully starts to ease. The result should be a virtuous circle whereby employees are more willing to share their views – and pass on those of customers - because they see them being used to drive positive change.”

So if Voice of the Employee programmes are so critical, and customer experience professionals are so integral to their success, what do the world’s leading VoE programmes look like, and how are the world’s top CX leaders delivering them? We found out by taking a look at the work of the entrants from MyCustomer's 2021 CX Leader of the Year programme.

Nascent practice

Firstly, it’s important to recognise that VoE is a relatively new practice for CX leaders in many big businesses. Whilst Voice of the Employee programmes are a key part of the remit for HR leaders in over 60% of organisations, the percentage of CX leaders also overseeing or involved in their company’s VoE programme is lower, (at around 20% in 2020).

This percentage is increasing year-on-year, however, and Aarthi Murali, chief customer experience officer at M&T Bank in the US, is a CX leader who has seen the full benefits of launching VoE within her organisation.

“Last year we launched M&T’s first ever mobile app to gather and action real time employee feedback, called MyVoice. It’s an easy and intuitive way for employees to raise their hands, point out opportunities with an outcome to remove employee and customer friction in experiences. We want every employee to feel empowered and supported in our mission with customer-centricity. 

“Hundreds of issues have been resolved so far and a highlighted win includes the reduction in cycle time we created to update beneficiaries for customers. This reduced customer wait times in our contact centre and helped us reduce our multiple-page web forms to a single, simplified form improving both the customer and employee experience.”

Anton de Wet, chief client officer at Nedbank, is another leader that has helped launch VoE, and believes it has been vital to ensure that the feedback mechanism is activated at every different level of a business, in order to garner insights right across the organisation.

“We have implemented touchpoint CX measures that allow us to get feedback per region, per area, per branch and right down to a per banker/employee level,” he explains. “These measures are used to provide feedback and improvements in a structured manner. We are introducing Voice of Employee and Voice of Process to our Voice of Client measures. Most importantly, this area is to prioritise all actions that are to be taken to fix and improve CX.”

The virtuous cycle

While employee engagement lies at the heart of many Voice of the Employee programmes, it is the customer insight that CX leaders are most keen to glean from their VoE work.

Kerri Ricketts, the head of customer experience with one of the UK’s busiest train networks, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), believes employee feedback is too often restricted to ad hoc or annual employee engagement surveys, and very rarely gives employees an opportunity to express their opinion on how customer experience can be improved.  

“The importance of our people may be obvious in other sections of the business, but due to the customer strategy at GTR, this has really gained focus and priority in the customer team recently too. Co-creating with those who are closest to our customers ensures the solutions really hits the mark for customers and our teams, who are engaged from the start – they’ve played a part and it’s not just something a central team are pushing out to them.

“Whilst customer outcomes and feedback are central, so too is employee feedback and this has directly led to the creation of a programme of 3 virtuous cycle projects to ensure that we have defined what good looks like, and that we measure how we deliver to this through updated service quality audits and new 'staff helpfulness' mystery shops, praise and customer surveys and we ensure that we support our teams being 'proactive people' across the employee end to end journey.

“This will be an agile continuous improvement approach as we learn and really embed Voice of the Employee into the way we work on continuous customer experience improvement.”

Insight into action

Every customer experience leader cites the need to turn insight into action as a fundamental basis for running both Voice of the Customer and Voice of the Employee programmes.

For Amanda Whiteside, head of customer programs with Amazon Shipping, the ‘action’ from her insights had been predefined – reduce the number of contacts in relation to shipment and improve the delivery arm of Amazon’s service quality measures.

Whiteside believes VoE has been fundamental to achieving these targets, whilst also countering the argument that employee engagement surveys alone can’t make a difference to customer metrics.

"In early 2020 we established a bi-monthly employee survey to collect e-VOC asking our employees specifically CX related questions such as; ‘do you feel our organisation is customer obsessed’."

"In 12 months, we improved this score significantly whilst also growing our business. These improvements have had a knock on impact to our customer contacts, reducing our contacts per shipment and also improving our core service quality measure."

An Post’s customer experience strategy and insights lead, Karen Morton, also cites surveys as having a vital and immediate impact on the customer experience delivery at Ireland’s public sector post office provider, but adds that face-to-face focus group sessions have been an important addition.

“These sessions are run monthly by myself whereby I meet with various stakeholders from across the business who participate in new product designs, define new channel experiences for our customers and we discuss ways of fixing current pain points and agree ownership of these.

“The importance of meeting regularly with employees across the organisation can’t be understated, from a CX point of view.”

However, for Nicki Osborne, customer experience programme lead at M&G, the Voice of the Employee programme is as much a route to validating the work she has undertaken within her organisation on a significant and vital project. In the autumn of 2020, M&G's executive team identified that vulnerable customers were not being sufficiently and consistently supported across the entire organisation and tasked Nicki, as CX lead, with overseeing improvements. VoE was an obvious programme to establish if her approach was working.  

“On a number of our deliverables we’re using voice of the employee surveys to understand how they land with our colleagues. An example of this has been on our customers in crisis training for front line agents. After each training session an anonymous survey has been sent out to agents asking them to answer 3 short questions and a dashboard shares their responses. We’ve actively used their feedback to tweak and adjust the training material and communications around the training too.

“Listening to our colleagues and acting on their feedback has meant we’ve seen post-training scores increase and now around 90% of participants say they feel more confident to deal with these situations and that the session was of value to them.”

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