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Jeff Meier, CIO, Fujitsu Americas
Employees Need Consumer- Grade Technologies to Provide a Superior Customer Experience
By Jacob and Blake Morgan, Customer Experience Futurists, Keynote Speakers, Blake Morgan
In order to provide an amazing customer experience, employees need consumer-grade technology. These are the programs people use every day outside of work. Consumer-grade technologies are tools that are so beautiful, useful, and valuable that you would consider using something similar in your personal life if it existed.
Companies often make it harder on the employee or customer to make easier on their own legacy systems and processes. Too many companies use enterprise-grade technology that they claim is more robust, secure and flexible, but that really just ends up being clunky, outdated, and frustrating to use. Instead of giving employees the metaphorical agile sports car they want to drive, companies instead buy a tank and hope it has the same driving experience. Companies have a habit of creating guardrails and rules for the masses without considering the needs of the individual. As a result both employee and customer experiences suffer greatly.
Co-author of this article Blake experienced this first hand when she worked remotely for a Fortune 100 company. She used a virtual private network, or VPN, to log in to the employee system and check her email, which meant her name was incredibly important. Without being there in person, a name was her main identifier. After she got married, Blake needed to change her last name on the VPN. What should have been a simple change turned into a larger issue.
Brands with the best customer experiences use technology to make customers’ lives easier and better
After trying to fix the problem remotely, Blake was locked out of her laptop and had to drive more than three hours to the office in Bay Area traffic. Once she got there, IT kept her laptop and she couldn’t work the entire day. With all of the hassle, Blake regretted even trying to change her name at work.
The company made life harder on its employees so that it could be compliant with its own inflexible governance structure. Instead of providing a simpler solution to an easy problem, the company was so set in its rules and regulations that it created a poor employee experience. While security is a concern for companies with remote employees, companies need to consider that many employees prefer to work remotely. IT must make the accommodations so if there is variation it does not impede an employee’s productivity and stress levels. Security is a concern but all factors must be taken into account, not just the company’s legacy systems, but the mental wellbeing of the employee.
Brands with the best customer experiences use technology to make customers’ lives easier and better. They are less focused about their own efficiency and compliance because they understand that customers need personalized, simple solutions. Spotify and Netflix make it easy to sort through thousands of options for songs and movies by using strong search functions and highly tuned recommendation algorithms. Amazon creates a seamless experience no matter if customers are shopping on a computer, tablet or smartphone and uses AI to recommend the best products. Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft put the power in customers’ hands by using the app to connect with services in their area. These brands know the importance of leveraging technology to create a personalized experience for users.
These companies have set the standard for modern customer experience. The problem arises when customers get so used to having great experiences with technology in their personal lives and then go to work where they are forced to use outdated technology or interact with a company that uses obsolete programs. The lack of consumer-grade technology can soil the experience at work. And this matters – if you want to attract and retain incredible people, they are going to demand modern work experiences.
It’s frustrating for an employee to get to a meeting via Uber and have a smooth experience, only to walk into the office and have to wait for a slow internet connection and outdated internal web. That frustration can carry over to their interactions with customers, especially if customers are forced to use the same outdated systems to contact the brand.
Brands need to start offering employees and customers the opportunity to use the channels and the devices of their choice. As consumers, we have nearly endless technology options. The same needs to be true for employees, and the impact will spread quickly to the customer and employee experience. Modern enterprise-grade technology models itself after consumer platforms like Twitter, Facebook or Google. These tools are designed to actually be used by humans. Even the best employees can’t provide a superior customer experience on outdated technology—they need customer-grade systems to keep the company moving and to create satisfied customers.
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Jeff Meier, CIO, Fujitsu Americas