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Even though areas like profits or units sold are legitimate ways for business leaders to measure success, customer and employee satisfaction offers a more qualitative way to assess how you’re doing. When your team has to work remotely, however — as is increasingly the case now, given both the rise of the gig economy and the Covid-19 pandemic — it can be much more difficult to figure out if workers and buyers are happy. Following a few basic best practices can make it easier to see a clear picture of your situation and, if necessary, make improvements.
1. Measure often
When you have a lot of your employees working remotely, it’s important to practice what we call continuous listening. This simply means that you try to get feedback from your workers and customers in a more ongoing, frequent way. Technology can make this easier, such as doing an online survey. But in-person interactions are important, too, since they give a more human-centric feel to relationships and foster better trust.
Continuous listening is important because attitudes and sentiments change over time and circumstances. One-time studies can give you a “snapshot” sense of how people feel, but they won’t show trends or shifts among cohorts. So, keep checking in and collect all your feedback regularly to keep an eye on how behaviors and ways of thinking are moving.
2. Use trackable KPIs.
Open-ended questions are those you can’t answer with a simple “yes” or “no.” They can be incredibly valuable when you’re trying to get insights about satisfaction because customers and workers can reply however they like. This can help you ensure that your survey or other feedback platform isn’t directing responses in a certain direction based on your own biases. It can also offer better context, color, and rationale.
But it is just as important to measure outcomes that can be trended. Trackable KPIs, such as customer satisfaction (CSAT) and net promoter score (NPS), will allow you to see what’s happening over time. By comparing the trend data to events that occurred within a given time range, you can get insights about what specifically might have influenced satisfaction levels. You can also make some logical, data-driven predictions about where you’re headed. That’s essential for operational planning and decision making. For example, by getting a customer from an NPS score of 6 to 7, the organization not only gains additional loyalty and more referrals but also increased spending by that same customer, leading to additional revenue and high profitability on that additional revenue.
3. Keep feedback loops open
It’s common practice to send out surveys to workers and customers when you have a question or need something. But conversation is a two-way affair, meaning that your cohorts also need to be able to give you feedback when they have something to say.
Keeping your feedback loops open will ensure that your workers and customers feel more comfortable bringing ideas and legitimate concerns to you whenever it’s appropriate, whether you anticipated their feedback or not. It also can allow stakeholders to collect opt-in data, which is an important component of any voice-of-customer or employee program.
4. Share results and show proof of action
Generally speaking, if respondents feel that their feedback is falling on deaf ears, they’ll simply stop providing it. Conversely, however, people are motivated to do something when they can see that their action or behavior has an impact. They are motivated to speak up and provide feedback when they can see that their opinions matter.
There’s no better way to show people their views count than to point out how they are helping you to understand and take real, verifiable action. For example, if your remote workers say they are overwhelmed by the number of Zoom meetings you’re having, then you can execute a plan that cuts the number of virtual meetings by a certain percentage, updating the team at every step.
5. Prioritize mental well-being
Remote workers have always had to deal with everyday stresses, such as chattery digital notifications. But now, elements like even greater limited social interaction due to social distancing, uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and accelerated lifestyles all are compounding employee anxiety. Checking in and getting feedback about their mental well-being can let you pinpoint not only what people are feeling and why, but also how you can help (e.g., guided meditation, online training).
Companies also need to change their customer communication strategies to check in with their customers about how they’re feeling from time to time. Being authentic with them and showing that you genuinely care is more important now than ever. Although there are many good ways to do this, phone surveys are particularly beneficial, since they allow companies to listen deeply and offer reassuring words.
6. Get a full view of the entire customer and employee journey
Employee and customer journeys both are changing across multiple touchpoints. A good example is the virtual onboarding of employees. For example, it can be challenging in a remote context to ensure a new hire is clear about their role or to make sure that the training support available (e.g., webinars, live chat, documents) is appropriate and adequate compared to in-person help. Surveys can help in both circumstances, providing guidance about how to design new virtual onboarding programs or which support modes matter most.
Shifts in employee and customer touchpoints, such as the examples above, can influence the entire employee and customer journey. But introducing new touchpoints can have implications for the whole journey, as well. So it is essential that you have a full view of that journey and understand the broader impacts of what initially might seem like small changes or decisions. As work and customer cultures become increasingly virtual, optimizing for this whole journey rather than for a single touchpoint will become even more important.
Remote work is here to stay
Although it’s not clear exactly how many workers will continue within, join or abandon the remote work setup in the future once COVID-19 dissipates, there’s no question that the days of everyone commuting to the office are done. Subsequently, customers and employees alike will need more and different types of support to have a good experience. Although each business might need additional strategies based on their industry, vision or resources, for most companies, the tips above are a solid start.