As Forrester's Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) proves, the key determiner of a company's success is customer satisfaction. We can also prove that there is a strong correlation between employee satisfaction and customer perception and opinion, which is more pronounced with those employees who have a greater impact on your customers. To improve customer satisfaction, these employees have to feel that they can succeed. If they can’t succeed, they will burn out, and burned out employees aren’t going to help your company win, serve and retain customers. Forrester believes that you as an I&O leader can play the decisive role in customer satisfaction, if you choose to. Here’s why:
When you shift focus toward customer value, you overcome IT gravity
As George Colony points out in his blog, I&O leaders are comfortable focusing on cost and security, and won’t stretch because they can’t escape the gravitational pull of traditional IT agenda items. But you don’t have to be one of them. You can change your priorities if you have good enough reasons, and our workforce enablement research will give them to you. Meeting your customers where they are is important, but meeting your people where they are is important, too, when their job is to deliver the products and services that satisfy your customers.
What you focus on gets bigger
Neuroscientists tell us that what we focus on gets bigger because our brains become more aware of the things that are most important to us. If we know our company wants us to focus on controlling costs or improving security, our minds will work on ways to do that, even when we’re not conscious of it. But a limitation most of us don’t realize is that our brains can only keep about seven things in our conscious awareness, so what we’re not focusing on slips away until it’s no longer a part of our thought processes…unless we find ways to keep it there, and that takes energy and effort.
I&O’s role is the most crucial one of all
The employees of your organization have the same cognitive limits as you do, but at the top of their list of seven things is getting their work done. Their job is to do their part to help win, serve and retain customers for the business, and the most productive of them already understand and accept that cost control and security are your top priorities. 30% are willing to equip themselves where they can, but there is only so much they can do because the technology resources inside the company they need are outside of their control.
You have more power to create change than you think
Chances are that many of the resources they need are within your control, so the change they need from you is to do as much as you can to facilitate their access to internal technology resources. If you’re like most I&O leaders, though, you sit in the middle of your organization, so feeling powerless sometimes goes with the territory. But you’re not powerless — you hold the keys to their potential, and the key to leading change is to find ways to keep workforce productivity at the front of your mind and in the minds of others who can help you.
But it means learning to see your workforce through a new lens
It will be hard because while most companies now have systems to track the sources of cost and security gaps in detail, they can’t track productivity effectively — let alone diagnose productivity inhibitors. If they track productivity at all, they’re likely to attribute poor performance to myriad things including inexperience, poor management, lack of discipline or poor communication skills — all of which may also be present, which takes attention away from any inadequacy in technology resources. Bringing awareness of technology management’s role in productivity means that I&O leaders like you must learn to see through new lenses.
Our highest purpose is to be your champions and allies in your quest
If financial models and threat research are the lenses for seeing costs and security-related factors, then neuroscience and organizational psychology are the lenses for seeing productivity and human-performance-related factors. My colleagues and I on the workforce enablement team here at Forrester believe that the highest purpose for I&O leaders is to create the conditions for employees to do their best work through technology resources. Accordingly, our highest purpose is to be your allies and champions, and we're here to help you with new tools and research incorporating neuroscience and organizational psychology to help you create change.
The first of these is now available as a survey instrument and companion document:
Use Forrester’s new survey to assess productivity and flow, and diagnose problems
Employees achieve peak performance at work when they attain a mental state called flow. When they can reach flow regularly, they provide superior customer service, work harder, and stay with their employers longer. Building on years of psychological research, this tool helps you objectively evaluate which employees are achieving flow, and analyze which factors are promoting or inhibiting flow in your organization. With a better understanding of what’s promoting or inhibiting flow, you can have the basis you need for creating change where it will have the greatest benefits for productivity and, in turn, business outcomes.