A Well-Designed Digital Workplace Helps Employees – and Your Customers
Delivering good services is tough. Record employee turnover rates, market dynamics, increased customer expectations and COVID-19 are constant challenges for companies wanting to deliver a top service to their customers.
The more complex the service, the more difficult to ensure a quality delivery. The picture below is a compilation of some typical reviews of a British bank:
The company's values include respect, service and excellence. However, the company clearly has challenges with implementing these values across its large, distributed workforce.
Your Poorly Designed Digital Workplace Is Dragging Employees (and Customers) Down
There are many drivers of customer dissatisfaction, especially in times when we're experiencing a lot more stress than usual. And yet I believe one cause has the greatest systemic impact to the way a company delivers its services to the public: a poorly designed digital workplace.
Employees must navigate a ridiculous amount of information and tools on a daily basis to get their jobs done. Any time they perform a new task which requires additional information, they must find it in a maze of enterprise repositories.
Employees must know how to manage many products, procedures, instructions, training materials and changes of all kinds or apps (at times exceeding 100 apps!). They also have to be able to switch quickly from task to task. In less than 60 minutes, a clerk will do a deposit, replace a lost card, activate an online service, apply for an internal opportunity or request time off and sometimes more.
The 3 Stages of Information Retrieval
Most cases of customer dissatisfaction can be traced back to the employees not being able to quickly navigate through the maze and identify the required information or tool to use.
When performing a task, an employee can search for information in several "places":
1. They'll try to remember
In theory this is the fastest and cheapest way to find the information they need.
The trouble here is that due to the relatively high amounts of information an employee must deal with, their memory will likely fail to deliver a correct result.
Studies show that most people going through training forget half of the delivered information within days of the training's completion. The same happens with the various updates received on all the services that the employee consumes.
Relying solely on employees' memories will seldom deliver quality results across the line.
2. They'll ask a colleague
Having support from your teammates helps improve team spirit and deliver great customer experiences. Yet, chances are they might give you an incorrect or incomplete answer.
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What would happen if every member of your team came to work focused on finding solutions and creating better results?
If you ask a specialist from the dedicated department you incur an additional cost for the company because this prevents them from doing higher, added-value activities.
In both cases you are interrupting somebody from what they are doing, which can lead to additional errors. Also, you might end up calling a few other people before finding the right guy.
Calling somebody also extends the customer wait time before the problem is resolved.
Related Article: (I Can't Get No) Search Satisfaction
3. They'll search the digital workplace
Provided one can find the information in a timely manner, this is the most effective delivery method. However, there are countless cases where this doesn't work.
- If the employee must search emails, this is a sign of digital workplace immaturity.
- If information on one topic is scattered across several disconnected repositories, consider using a task/topic-oriented architecture for your digital workplace.
- When an employee has a customer in front of them, they must find the right answer quickly. If information cannot be found fast enough then there's the possibility the information does not exist.
- If information is out of date, you likely have not involved the right people in the organization, or they don't understand how to use the digital workplace to improve their efficiency and the satisfaction of their internal and external customers.
For each relevant task within the company, there is at least one employee who is the internal expert in doing that task. In order for regular employees to properly perform the task, the expert’s motivation and knowledge has to be transferred to the employee. The degree to which this is achieved dictates the quality of the employee output for that particular task. It also dictates the general performance of the company.
What Does a Well-Designed Digital Workplace Look Like?
The main characteristics of a well-designed digital workplace are:
- It is designed around topics/internal services of the company.
- Whatever the topic, the employee will be able to quickly locate the Why (the reason why the topic is important), the How (procedures, recent related news, e-learning materials, FAQs, support and feedback contacts), and the What (tasks, notifications, KPIs) around that topic.
- The expert in charge of the topic is responsible for the maintenance of the topic content.
- It is the job of the expert to make sure that whatever information or tool the employee needs can be delivered by the digital workplace in an ergonomic manner.
- It can deliver a much better experience for the employees with a fraction of the effort of a traditional environment.
In my professional life I've met too many people who are otherwise capable, nice, friendly colleagues, who, due to poorly designed digital workplaces, end up being stressed, delivering poor services, and dissatisfying their customers. This must change!
Related Article: Does Your Digital Workplace Design Help Employees Get Work Done?
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About the Author
Cristian Salanti is working as a Digital Employee Experience Architect at Zenify.net. He has been developing Intranets for the past 20 years. He is advocating for a more practical, managerial approach to Digital workplace design.