Improving customer experience through employee experience

Last week I was at an SDI event talking about some if the improvements we have made at the IT Help Desk and I was asked how we had achieved such excellent results – my answer! Through staff satisfaction and motivation! Studies have shown that there is a huge difference in the performance of motivated and non-motivated staff so actually it is really important to invest time and effort in the people that are responsible for service delivery. Happy people give great service and if you want to improve customer experience then first start with employee experience.

We started off this process by looking at our Vision & Mission for the service. For people to be successful in their roles they need to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and how the work they undertake supports the overall organisation. We created the IT Help Desk Vision, Mission posters, these provide the whole team with a common goal and shared sense of purpose and helps ensure that we are all pulling in the same direction.

Professional and personal development can be a great motivator for people and we have developed a culture and working environment that gives people the opportunity to learn new skills and improve their knowledge. In many organisations Service Desk staff are seen as the Cinderella’s of IT or the Desk is viewed simply as a springboard into other IT roles. We work hard to ensure the role of IT Support Advisor is as varied and interesting as possible. Everyone gets the opportunity to work in the different areas of the service; phone, face to face and email and we take turns to work on our additional services. We also aim to provide career development and have developed processes to support job shadowing and secondment opportunities. We have supported staff in long and short term secondments and we provide help with writing job applications and putting CVs together and always encourage individuals to apply for internal roles.

We have implemented rigorous recruitment, induction and training procedures and our standard training package includes ITIL Foundation, Service Desk Analyst, IT Security and Equality & Diversity Training. We also provide the team with individual call coaching that gives both team members and management with an on-going quality and personal development mechanism. We also regularly audit staff skills via our skills matrix. This gives us an understanding as to the level of skill from a technical and customer service viewpoint. The skills matrix allows us to identify where there are gaps and how these can be closed as well as revealing any hidden talents. Staff that are given continuous training and evaluation are better able to deliver the excellent customer service we are looking for. Most people are stimulated by leadership roles even in spot appearances. For example, when we have visitors we usually allow someone on the desk to take the role of visitors guide and on the odd occasion when there are no supervisors or managers around we have let others step up and take the role. When the Help Desk are involved in the implementation of new and enhanced services we appoint project leads from within the team to be the main point of contact and represent Help Desk at project meetings. Again this is a great way for individuals to be given additional responsibilities.

The organisations who get the most out of people are the organisations who care most about people and staff happiness and well-being is essential if you want to deliver a great service. As part of the work on Service Desk Certification we have introduced a staff satisfaction process and we now hold surveys twice a year, this helps us understand issues and concerns and address these early before they start to impact the service. For the past 2 years our overall staff satisfaction rating has come back at 100% – it is great to know that every single person in the team enjoys their job.

We are a team that is not afraid to fly our own flag! To recognise and reward good performance it is really important that we celebrate success. We have put ourselves forward for number of industry awards and events. We get the whole team involved in putting together the submissions for these and it is actually a great exercise in team building. Last year we were finalists in the IT Service & Support Awards and came runner up in the ‘I Love My Service Desk’ Competition, and Laura was a finalists the Best Student Intern category at the National Undergraduate Awards. Although we didn’t win we had a lot of fun putting together the evidence and creating some short videos and I have to say that for us it really is the taking part the counts. Team members regularly give presentations and sessions at different industry events both internal and external. Giving people the chance to talk about the great work they do are great opportunities to raise the profile of the service and give people a real sense of achievement and pride.

They say that an army marches on its stomach and I think that this is definitely true of our team and we love nothing more than a tasty treat and these can be a great, low cost way of rewarding and recognising staff effort. We’ve had healthy fruit to keep us going during the hectic start of team period and a star cake to celebrate our Service Desk Certification. From time to time the managers have provided breakfast for the team, as we have said food is a great motivator for our team and this will get the day off to a great start. During major incidents and busy periods when the pressure is really on the management team will make the drinks or do the sandwich run. It is important that managers are not afraid to pitch in and get their hands dirty sometimes! And it doesn’t have to be big things! For the past couple of years we have had a team advent calendar, with team members taking it in turns to eat the chocolate and read out the joke. Cost was £2 but a really easy way of having a little bit of fun each morning.

Using Customer feedback and customer compliments can also be a great way of recognizing excellent customer service. We make sure that we share our customer feedback with our key stakeholders including the senior management team and we have a customer feedback page on the IT intranet. All customer compliments are logged in our ITSM tool so that we can report and benchmark the data and use it to praise individuals and each month we publish the customer satisfaction data including comments on twitter and our external IT Website. We get a lot of thanks and recognition from customers, and these come in lots of different forms, anything from home made preserves and plums for a customers plum tree to chocolates (always a firm favorite

We know that a team is not just a group of people that work together but also a group of people that respect, trust and care for each other and that actually it is really important to have some fun along the way. The team are encouraged to get involved in lots of charitable initiatives and we have regular social outings. We’ve done Children in Need, Red Nose Day and Genes for Jeans and just last month we collected and filled 30 shoeboxes for the Operation Christmas Child Appeal and raised money for Save The Children through the IT Christmas Jumper Competition.

Reward and recognition isn’t something that is the sole responsibility of management either, it is something that involves every single member of the team and they are actually quite good at praising each other and you can regularly hear team members telling others they handled a call really well or did a good job an a tricky techie issue.

If you want an engaged team then treat people well, listen to them, be helpful and give them room to grow. Staff will perform well when they are paid well, mentored, challenged, inspired, involved, appreciated, trusted, trained and empowered. And when they are allowed to have fun as well!

The result will be a team that is hardworking, enthusiastic, committed, humble, positive, confidence, honest, creative and persistent. And who doesn’t want this. Whilst there has been a big investiment is staff satisfaction I like to think that the results speak for themselves.

Staff absence days have halved and service levels are up, we have increased our 1st contact resolution by 4% and decreased our phone wait times by an average of 26 seconds per call.

We have excellent staff retention rates demonstrating the desk is now a place where many of us are happy to stay and develop our careers. The average length of service is 4.2 years which is actually pretty good. but the most impressive result? Customer satisfaction is up from 88% to 98%!

So I can say with confidence, making sure the team feel valued and appreciated has really paid off.

When we started out on our Service Desk Certification programme 3 years ago we really thought it would be about processes, procedures, tools and technologies but what we learnt is that really it is all about people. A good service needs good people and a strong team and that is what we have. Our improvement process has really focused on the development of a team that can stand tall and be proud of the service that they deliver. Happy people really do give good service!


3 thoughts on “Improving customer experience through employee experience”

  1. Thanks for sharing your team’s experiences. I loved it and it inspired me to create an article to share the story


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