The Colleague Experience, Part II – We do what we do, and we do it together!


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When I last wrote about the Colleague Experience, defined as how we interact with one another to achieve an improved customer experience, phrases like self-isolation and quarantine, shelter-in-place and social distancing didn’t exist. Work from home was a luxury for some, a necessity for others and only experienced by a small percentage of the workforce. Hand sanitizer, toilet paper and other common necessities were in abundance on grocery store shelves. We shook hands, attended sporting events and anticipated the warmer days of Springtime. Suddenly, within days, everything changed. A new normal emerged from out of nowhere.

Despite these adversities, we’ve also begun to celebrate the resilience of human nature among our colleagues, family and friends. Our desire to remain engaged and connected with one another precipitated new approaches and methods to do so. We found ways to work from home. Instead of making excuses for crying babies or barking dogs, we empathized with our colleagues, laughed at the antics and welcomed the diversion. We re-connected with dear friends through virtual happy hours via “Zoom”. We stood in driveways and called to our neighbors 6-feet away. High School students parked their cars in a circle and connected from the back end of an SUV within safe distancing guidelines. We’re finding the silver linings in our experiences with our customers, with our colleagues and with our family and friends.

Now more than ever, we’ve learned that every employee, every colleague has a role in achieving a better CX for your organization. The traditional concept of job divisiveness… “this is my job and that is yours” has fallen by the wayside. Everyone’s doing their best to get the job done. Everyone is dependent on the other to deliver on our customer commitments.
Ensuring colleagues have the right tools to do their jobs and the mechanisms in place to serve customers is so important right now. Today each of us is being asked to change the wheels on a car we are driving down the highway at 65 miles per hour! Here are some ideas that we can use to help our colleagues and employees get those tires changed!

1. Support the remaining team. Your organizations may have experienced layoffs, furloughs or terminations as a result of the pandemic. While it’s important to stay connected with those that have been adversely impacted, it’s also important to support our colleagues who remain behind. Rallying the survivors around what happens next is crucial to the long-term survival of the organization.

2. Conduct daily check-ins with colleagues and staff. Ask, “How are you?” and mean it. Now, more than ever, we need to really listen to how are colleagues are doing. How are they feeling? What help do they need? Use a weekly staff meeting or 1:1 to check-in on colleagues personally while doing what needs to be done professionally.

3. Re-think your priorities. We’re pretty good at multi-tasking but this is crazy! In the past, we separated our days into work time and personal time. Those separations have dissolved into one seemingly endless 24-hours a day, 7 days a week marathon. We’re managing conference calls, taking care of children and ensuring our own health and safety. Now more than ever, organizations need to determine what is most important so collectively we can align to a short list of achievable priorities.

4. Invest in the tools for a new normal. Ensure employees have the right equipment in their homes. Avoid the stop-gap workarounds and make the necessary investments. As difficult as it may be to spend the money, eliminating this barrier can help colleagues continue meeting their objectives and delivering on their commitments.

5. Revise internal service level agreements and commitments. Just as we’ve had to understand new customer expectations, so too must we create meaningful metrics to continue delivering on those expectations. Take time to understand the functional requirements of your adjacent departments and identify and fix pain points.

6. Celebrate Wins. When something good happens, celebrate it with not only your department but others that have helped you achieve the win. Post it on internal sites and recognize individuals who made a difference in the customer experience. Especially recognize the “behind-the-scenes” employees who don’t often get the spotlight shined on the fine work they do for customers. Using kudos, props and simple thank you’s will go a long way these days!

7. Leadership Presence. Leadership presence is needed now more than ever. Be present to your colleagues and employees. Reach out to employees 1:1. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Share what you know when you know it to alleviate rumors and unfounded fears among employees and colleagues.

8. Create a rally metric. It’s so important for an organization to be unified in its focus on achieving one unifying metric. No, I’m not talking about NPS. Instead create a unifying metric that creates complete organizational focus. An example may be customer satisfaction or effort score so that everyone understands it and knows what role they play in achieving it. Then reward employees for achieving it each month!

There is plenty being written about how to navigate your organization’s customer experience during this time of crisis. Doing any one of these ideas can help improve the feeling that all employees create a better CX. Whatever you choose will make the “colleague experience” better! Above all else – despite everything happening around us – find time to laugh at a joke or take a walk or appreciate the blossoms of Spring or enjoy your time together.
We do what we do, and we do it together!

Bob Azman
Bob Azman is Founder and CXO of Innovative CX Solutions, LLC, a boutique CX consulting firm. He is the 2020 Immediate Past Chairman of the Board of the Customer Experience Professional Association ( Bob has a wealth of executive, diverse, global operations leadership experience at Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Thomson Reuters, Ceridian and Deluxe Corporation. Bob earned both his MBA and BA from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management and Rutgers University Business School.


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