a meeting with a woman speaking in the center
PHOTO: Antenna

Businesses know that to compete and grow today, understanding the voice of the customer (VoC) across channels is vital. It's become the norm –– and the technology to help them get there is already being implemented. However, customer feedback data isn't the only source of valuable information. When it comes to transforming customer experience, employee experience is another critical piece of the puzzle. 

Contact center employees are the face of the company. As the primary customer experience representatives and practitioners, they not only interact with customers on a daily basis, they often have a very good view of the business’ operational performance. So to transform the customer journey end-to-end, businesses need to realize the critical role voice of the employee (VoE) can play with VoC to positively impact loyalty and the company's bottom-line.

Building a VoE Program

Most companies have historically administered annual engagement surveys to get a pulse on employee satisfaction and areas of the workplace environment that can be improved. However, retroactive surveys typically yield an incomplete analysis of specific elements of the experience. Instead of relying on one annual survey, an effective VoE program — similar to the most successful VoC programs — should gather feedback from various touch points within the employee journey and from multiple sources. 

For example, pulse surveys can be administered following organizational change, such as new onboarding processes or training for different tasks and business roles. These smaller, more targeted surveys will often get much better response rates, and provide action-oriented insights that are especially valuable for repeated internal procedures.

Beyond surveys, businesses can build processes that foster structured conversations with employees regarding certain systems and job functions. Some companies have experimented with hour-long, technology-free sessions where employees can weigh in on timely issues, sensing a safe space to express their thoughts and ideas for improvement. Similarly, encouraging managers to have frequent, in-person conversations with employees will help gather more data on collective experiences. 

But gathering feedback from different sources is only half the battle. That feedback must be analyzed, turned into insights and distributed throughout the organization. The most successful VoE programs I’ve seen have a Human Resources department committed to gathering feedback from employees often and in varied formats, and then sharing that information with the right business leaders, in order to turn those insights into action.

Related Article: The Evolution of Customer Experience Leads Back to the Employee

Improving Engagement and Retaining Employees  

Across industries, employee burnout is on the rise and that is having a serious effect on employee engagement, happiness and productivity. For businesses that rely on contact center agents, employee burnout can directly impact their ability to resolve conflicts empathetically and efficiently.

However, if strong VoE programs are implemented early on, key factors contributing to burnout can be identified and resolved quickly. With information on which areas of the employee experience lead to frustration, such as unclear expectations from managers or an always-on work culture, leadership can take the necessary steps to correct them instead of letting issues fester. 

What’s more, employees who feel that their voice is heard are more likely to feel valued and ultimately will perform better. For contact center employees, this results in better customer interactions, quicker conflict resolution and increased brand loyalty.  

Finally, just as a deep understanding of the VoC reduces customer churn, a strong VoE program can reduce employee turnover. This means that instead of constantly having to hire and train new employees, businesses can focus on growing current contact center employees and their skills, ensuring customers have high-quality experiences.   

Related Article: Avoiding Employee Burnout in the Always-On Workplace

Using Employee Insights to Drive Customer Experience 

VoE programs can also be used to illuminate vital insights from customers that may otherwise slip through the cracks. Contact center employees are in a unique position to recognize customer feedback patterns and relay them to other parts of the organization to drive change. Because they interact with dozens of customers each day, contact center agents possess a wealth of knowledge on vital data points like effort and emotion, two key drivers of brand loyalty. Using employee-driven information to identify areas of the customer journey where effort is exceptionally high or emotions skew negative will have an impact on loyalty.  

Using VoE programs to better understand the customer experience not only provides valuable insights, but it also has a positive effect internally. Employees tend to be highly engaged and more motivated when they know they have the power to improve the customer experience. 

Businesses with a formal VoE program are uniquely positioned and more likely to see improvements in their overall CX. After customers, employees are the most important group that companies need to tap into in order to gain a deep understanding of how all the elements of an organization come together to deliver an incredible experience, save money and drive revenue.