Monday, January 16, 2012

Customer + Employee Engagement The Whole Picture

Employee engagement and customer engagement are two very hot topics lately but oddly very few discussions tie the two together and yet, they are inextricably linked. Woven into all these discussions is the concept of trust, which makes sense as trust is a key requirement for engagement and to be successful in the emerging social business concept as a new way to operate.

Social Business is the best way available to discuss how organizations will have to adapt to reflect the changes that social technologies bring to every aspect of the workplace and the customer experience. While social business purports to require the breaking down of silos, increase the use of collaborative processes and most of all promote 'engagement' it is odd that the concept of engagement for customers and employees are discussed as stand alone ideas-as if they each belong in a silo or place of their own. Yet the customer experience will depend on the employee experience. It is not realistic to change the processes or tools used to engage customers while retaining current processes and tools to engage employees. Or for HR and Marketing to do their own thing as if employees are not connected to the customer experience.

Who Is Talking About Engagement in Your Organization?

So, why is HR talking endlessly about employee engagement and marketing is talking endlessly about customer engagement but they are not talking to each other? And let us not forget our IT colleagues who are dealing with all sorts of new challenges given the advent of "bring your own device" and security concerns and learning how to effectively integrate new social tools into existing structures with tight budgets.

Check in With IT

It seems to me that HR, Marketing and IT all have similar challenges with social business and that social business requires a fundamental shift in how we approach our work. And one key requirement to be successful in the social realm is the ability to work together, to collaborate on moving forward, and to show leadership in taking on these challenges before getting run over by the competition.

Remember The Butterfly Effect?

This concept is as true of any process or tool in an organization and a key message from the 'butterfly effect'. Wikipedia provides a more extensive explanation of this but in short it means: "In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions; where a small change at one place in a nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane's formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before."

Worried About GroupThink?

An article by Susan Cain, NYT, (January 13, 2012) on "Groupthink" claims a negative stance on collaboration but like too many articles these days it uses "one person" as evidence to support their claim and weakens their argument by dismissing collaboration by presenting it as something that is replacing individual work wholesale which is not realistic and not considered to be the ultimate solution to anything. Collaboration is one tool that if used when and where it is most effective and applied appropriately (just like every tool or method in existence) can be very effective.

When the topic of discussion in your organization is engagement think of the experience for both customers and employees at the same time and see what happens.

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