If you’ve been listening to my podcast — I can’t believe we’ve done 41 episodes — one of the topics that comes up a lot is talent strategy. That is somewhat of a broad term, but here I take it to mean “getting the best people possible and retaining them.” Most CCOs will mention talent strategy when they talk to me, either on my podcast or in client work. We sometimes think that chatbots and automation are the “next big things” in customer experience, and maybe to some degree they are. One of the current / always-has-been big things, though, is having a good talent strategy. What does that look like? It’s going to vary by firm and size, but here are some ideas.
Talent strategy: Affording headcount
Headcount is often a rushed, messy process at organizations. Too often it goes to the manager who yelled the loudest about being busy, and not to the manager who really needs the help. We can fix this, however. Maybe an organization could do quarterly reviews of headcount needs, and each manager who wants headcount could present a five-minute presentation? The presentation could be about the role, its need for the business, and what the priorities of the role look like. CCOs are sometimes challenged in this aspect of talent strategy — people need to understand what CX is, and what the team is doing, before headcount can be expanded. (A lot of my podcast guests also discuss the first 9-12 months, and/or “quick wins.”) Headcount cannot be a rushed or political process, though. Especially in a time of shifting business models, you need to make sure talent is being afforded to the departments that will need it most.
Talent strategy: Recruiting/hiring
Entire books could be written about how to improve recruiting and hiring (and have been written). I will say this: just as you focus on experience reliability and innovation when facing customers, you need to do the same when facing employee candidates. Your employees are still your greatest advantage, so make sure the process is clear, priority-driven, respectful, communicative, and has them submitting projects and portfolios tied to what the job will be like.
Talent strategy: On-boarding
Make this a more transformative process, as opposed to a transactional one rooted in filling out forms. By the midpoint of Day 1, the employee should be taking on projects that will have legitimate customer-facing impact. That’s why you hired them, right? Because you trusted them to do just that? Let’s see what they can do. Enough with the weeks and weeks of meetings and “getting to know” people. (You do need to get to know stakeholders, yes, but the work should be the focus.)
Talent strategy: Promotion and retention
Great analogy between CX and sports in this recent Forbes article. When Tom Brady won his fifth Super Bowl a few weeks ago, did the Patriots say “Hey, now you should go be in the back office?” Of course not. Tom Brady is still good at being a QB. Unfortunately, in companies this logic dies out. If someone is great with customers, they become a back-office manager. While that might be good for them — higher compensation — it’s bad for the company because you just lost a customer All-Star. Maybe there’s a way to make the star a manager who also deals with customers? A hybrid role? There are any number of approaches. But don’t lose your best people because of a rigid commitment to “the ladder.”
Those are just four quick areas. I could go on and on about how to get the best people, which is why I linked up the podcast at the top. Check that out for more discussions around this topic.
Anything else you’d add on talent strategy?