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Gartner Study Recommends Connecting Voice of Customer to Voice of Employee Strategies

Since its formation in 2008, the Enterprise Engagement Alliance has had to battle the silos between employee and customer engagement. Despite compelling research from Gallup and numerous others, as well as ISO 10018 standards that link engagement across the enterprise, most organizations have yet to embrace ways to connect customer and employee engagement strategies and tactics.

Organizations seeking to transform human capital management (HCM) can benefit by applying VoC (Voice of the Customer) best practices to VoE (Voice of the Employee) initiatives to ensure such initiatives connect to results by equipping stakeholders with the information they need to rapidly respond to insights.

According to the report, “research conducted by Gallup, IBM, Aon Hewitt and CEB (among others) has demonstrated a link between employee engagement and retention as well as productivity, thus engagement will become one of the top 10 areas of focus for CEOs over the next few years.”

In the study, Apply Voice-of-the-Customer Best Practices to Voice-of-the-Employee Initiatives, authors Ron Hanscome, Jim Davies, and Helen Poitevin assert that “by 2022, 35% of organizations with more than 5,000 employees will augment their annual employee engagement surveys with pulse, indirect and inferred feedback to build a more complete view of the employee experience. Yet, they conclude, “Most organizations find it hard to develop specific action plans for affected roles (such as managers and executives) based on employee feedback. Lack of visible action often increases employee cynicism and reduces responsiveness to subsequent feedback initiatives.”

The authors state that “VoE is emerging as a more comprehensive way to gather better information on employee perceptions, consolidate feedback and deliver valid insights with actionable guidance, based on a much wider set of employee experience inputs. The traditional and somewhat rigid approach of the annual engagement survey is still important but can be augmented by other forms of feedback collection, capture and measurement of employee perceptions, feelings, opinions and ideas.” The goal, they assert, is “improved retention, earlier problem identification, better idea management, deeper feedback for managers on team perceptions and performance, and better data for longitudinal analysis. They should now look to other enterprise disciplines with greater maturity in gathering feedback and generating actionable insights to see how to accelerate their adoption of best practices. One primary domain to examine is that of customer engagement, and in particular voice of the customer (VoC).”

The study says that “clients are struggling to respond to the rapid pace of change (both internal and external) and the associated effects on their employees. Because most organizations rely on a formal engagement survey conducted everyone to three years as the primary means of gathering feedback from employees, they have difficulty tracking and responding to the impact of quarterly, monthly or even weekly changes in perception as their employees react to organizational changes and external market events. In response, some organizations have begun to augment formal engagement surveys with more real-time techniques for gathering direct and indirect feedback from employees. However, fragmented approaches and tools hamper their ability to gain valid and accurate insights. In addition, most organizations find it hard to develop specific action plans for affected roles (such as managers and executives) based on employee feedback; lack of visible action often increases employee cynicism and reduces responsiveness to subsequent feedback initiatives.”

The authors believe that human resources can achieve better results from engagement surveys by learning the lessons of VoC. Some of their recommendations include:
  • The need to demonstrate the return on investment to top management.
  • Leadership by a centralized role that “reports to an HCM operating committee composed of senior HR and operations leaders across the organization. The project team should include functional HR leads from employee engagement and talent management disciplines, as well as representation from HR generalists/business partners, operations leads, employees and managers.”
  • The solution must collect and analyze all three types of VoC data:
  1. Direct feedback — Feedback the form of a survey, complaint, market research or a forum/panel.
  2. Indirect feedback — Feedback from “review sites, social networks and customer care interactions via phone, email and chat sessions.”
  3. Inferred feedback — Operational and transactional data “such as a website's clickstream data, purchase history or contact center operational data.”
  • Need for expertise: “As VoE becomes more strategic, seeking guidance from a specialized consultancy has become an important option. Not every organization will need this level of support, but for many, the guidance these providers can offer via their hands-on experience with similar initiatives can help ensure the VoE program is executed as optimally as possible. These consultancies deliver a broad range of services that include:
  • Survey design and analysis
  • Employee journey mapping
  • Identifying key moments where feedback collection is essential to help with change management
  • Recommendations for team staffing and organizational structures
  • Setting up new incentives and compensation programs.”

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