When Madonna sang “We are living in a material world” I bet she could not imagine the kind of brand immersion world we find ourselves living in today.
From sponsored ads on Instagram and Facebook to those pesky pop-ups on YouTube, it sings to us. It plays games with us. Chat-bots seem to actually “converse” with us.
We don’t talk about the buying and selling process as simple transactions anymore. Because it’s not only the sale that matters. Everything that leads to the purchase and the follow-up is now taken into consideration. Marketers refer to this holistic approach of engaging, nurturing and retaining customers as “customer experience”.
This multi-channel marketing experience is offered by a variety of companies. Xtremepush, here in Ireland, claims to do it better than everyone else and last week I spoke with its co-founder and CEO, Tommy Kearns.
“We go to the heart of it. We collect the data and unify it and then we get an understanding of the customer. We have purpose-built data management and take in data from other parties. We use push notifications and email and social messengers and chatbots and live chats. We do it better because we have three channels within one platform. We’re a one-stop shop,” he said.
Despite its seemingly ubiquitous presence, marketers have also felt the belt-tightening squeeze of Covid. Research giant Gartner reported in its 2020 survey of marketing strategies that: “Marketers have faced some unique economic challenges in 2020 that have impacted their businesses.”
During my talk with Tommy, we agreed that like marketers, employers and people managers need to adopt new ways to communicate and interact with their teams. Hence the emerging field of employee experience or EX.
A personalised journey of engagement for your teams marked by a mixture of technology and human-connections is essential at all times to provide support, care and value.
1) Building personal trust
The life cycle of EX doesn’t start the day someone is hired, it begins with that ritual of introduction to a company: the interview.
As with multi-channel marketing, multi-faceted EX requires attention to detail from the very start. Tommy of Xtremepush puts it this way: “Personalisation is huge. There’s a lot of talk about personalisation that’s a load of codswallop. It only comes from an understanding of someone’s past and present. We need to understand that if you say you like something, have you purchased it? That’s how we begin to create our customer data. We are constantly analysing profiles and behaviour to make sure there’s no codswallop.”
Ridiculous questions like “How would you solve problems if you were from Mars” (reportedly used by Amazon) are gimmicky and more off-putting than trust-building.
Read, don’t skim, the candidate’s CV. During this time of Zoom interviews, make them feel comfortable. Demonstrate active interest to their answers. Ask relevant follow-up questions and don’t just move robotically down a list of questions.
Research shows that establishing and maintaining trust is one of the strongest bonds which prolong employee retention. I urge you to spend more time asking relevant and thoughtful questions of prospective employees. From the first day at work, throughout the on-boarding process and beyond continue to find ways to personalise their experience.
2) No more siloed teams
Remote working has put gatherings at the office water cooler on hold. Smaller department teams may be meeting regularly online, but cross-functional interactions are sharply reduced.
Xtremepush is using its multi-channel approach to ensure everyone stays connected. More structure, not less is required.
Tommy says: “At 10:35 to 10:55, there’s a Zoom coffee in the diary and the only rule of that game is don’t start asking me about a project. We have people in nine countries and we created a convivial atmosphere to get all of our people from every department and region together as we continue to go through this period of unease and unrest. As with our marketing, we need employee feedback loops.”
3) You’re not hearing it all
I wrote on LinkedIn this week where I am running a video series entitled “Thirty Thoughts for Thirty Days” that silence from an audience does not always indicate approval.
Likewise, with caring customer or employee experiences, it’s essential to, as Tommy told me, listen to what you’re not hearing.
“We can get lazy in how we understand each other – from employees and leaders in business. We need to understand what our employees are worrying about. Then I can understand how to help them perform much better and the only way to do that is to get a better understanding of them. The only way to do that is to listen to what I am hearing and what I am not.”
Today, as we inhabit a virtual world, the importance of creating and curating meaningful, trust-building experiences for employees is essential.