Everyone knows that Salesforce.com has a stated goal of gaining customers for life. But is there anybody out there who is thinking of creating employees for life? Because in today’s workplace, your employees are the ones who are going to create your customers. Success has to start with them. 

The CustomerThink article “Salesforce.com and Customers for Life: The Company You Keep” discussed the customer side of things: “Loyal customers reflect a brand’s integrity, reliability, and quality. In return, people behind the brand not only realize financial benefits but gain longtime customers who become partners and even friends.”

The sentence holds true when you replace the words “loyal customers” with “loyal employees.” There are tremendous benefits to be seen from longtime employees who will devote themselves to your company and share a great brand experience with customers and prospective customers. We need to make sure we are feeding those workers with tools that make their jobs easier. 

Why? A few reasons: 

  • Happier workers will stay with your company — less training and recruiting costs
  • Productivity gains mean workers get more done in less time — more profits
  • Employees’ experiences have a direct impact — both good and bad — on the customer experience

Prioritizing the Employee Experience

Let’s take a look at this last point, as it is possibly the most important. I don’t think that the impact of the employee experience has been fully explored by companies up to this point. According to the 2014 Gallup Employee Engagement survey, just 31.5 percent of employees worldwide feel adequately engaged with their work. What employees are doing on a day-to-day basis — and whether it’s easy or needlessly complicated — has a direct impact on how customers experience your product, your company, your brand. 

I’m tired of apathy in the enterprise over the employees’ experience. The employee is often obligated to jump through hoops in a multi-step, multi-system process, but the company spends all its energy fretting about the customer experience. For example, a company asks a sales rep to send a contract to the customer, get the signed fax back, scan it into the contract management system, email a heads-up to the legal team, schedule a kickoff meeting with the new accounts onboarding team, and, and, and… all before the customer is able to get up and running with the product they just bought. 

Guess what? You can improve that customer experience and the employee experience at the same time by fixing that.

Enhancing the Digital Workplace

All those manual steps mean it takes that much longer for the customer to get the product they just paid for. And that’s just one example of a sales process. What about your procurement team? What about your customer service team? They all touch, either directly or indirectly, the customer experience. 

Creating a digital workplace, with an intranet as its hub, provides a double-bonus of a great customer and great employee experience. A well integrated intranet creates the digital workplace that drives the improved experience. And happy workers make their customers happy. 

Here’s what to do before you create your intranet:

Talk to employees — And listen carefully. Hear about their pain points. What is the root cause? Fully explore those issues and let employees feel heard. That alone will help build a connection with the company, but don’t stop there. The themes you hear repeatedly will be become your goals for your digital workplace.

Consider the user experience — Once the goals are defined, the question becomes what the tool needs to look like, and it must go beyond what-goes-where within the application, to encompass the collaborative culture you seek to enhance in your company. Your employees are consumers when they’re off the clock, and they have experienced great UX from a consumer standpoint. Now is the time to make that experience available to your employees across all your internal tools.

Map the top priority use cases and how they affect customers — If you can’t do everything at once (and who has budget for that?) look at the uses for internal tools, and prioritize those that will have the biggest impact on your customers. Whether it is establishing the UX-focused intranet and then building out the line-of-business needs, or vice versa, you can build a plan that lets you make a measurable impact.

Define metrics — Define the key metrics based on your pain points that you’ve established in Step 1. Measurability is critical, and ensure that all approvers up the decision tree buy into those metrics.

Build an employee and customer-centric culture — This is a huge topic, and needs to run well both before and well beyond establishing your intranet. Be sure to educate all employees about why you are revamping your intranet into a digital workplace: to enhance the customer experience. When you have a corporate culture that supports employees doing higher quality, more productive work, that lets employees focus on their customers and deliver the great experiences that keep those customers coming back.

So once you’ve done those explorations you will have the deeper understanding to select the right vendor or product and achieve business goals that matter, not just a check-mark against a business objective, but making real gains in the productivity of your workplace. And that way, you will generate employees and – with those employees’ enthusiastic support – more customers for life.  

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  MDGovpics 

Title image by MDGovpics