What can we do to create better employee experiences and thereby better customer experiences?
What can we do to create better employee and customer experiences? This was the question asked at the recent Transform Your Employee & Customer Experience event hosted by Customer Radar and HROnboard.
While the event was focused on commercial contexts, I found it particularly relevant to cultural organisations. Audience research often shows that interaction with staff at cultural organisations majorly influences satisfaction with the visit (see for example this post by Colleen Dilenschneider).
“The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers.”
The customer experience is strongly influenced by staff. And staff are influenced by their experience in their organisation. Aligning the employee and the customer experience therefore seems a logical focus, in particular in services with customer contact at their heart.
The event offered insights and ideas of what we can do to improve both the CX and the EX. Here is a list of the presenters and what they spoke about:
Owning your onboarding (Peter Forbes, HROnboard)
Creating an employee experience that mirrors your CX (Edan Haddock, Flybuys Australia)
Building a foundation of customer-centric leadership (Mel Rowsell, Wisdom at Work)
Mapping your CX & EX to own your critical moments (Briana Millar, Tonkin & Taylor)
Measure your CX; grow your business (Mat Wylie, CustomerRadar)
New Perspectives on the diversity of Hospitality, Tourism and Events
Last week I had the opportunity to facilitate a breakfast workshop themed “Audiencing” at CAUTHE 2020. It was great to discuss perspectives on audiences from my practical experience in the cultural sector with academic researchers in hospitality and tourism from around the world, an area I don’t usually interact with. Many thanks to Dr Sandra Goh and Dr Tomas Pernecky, Faculty of Culture and Society at AUT.
I took the opportunity to attend a few sessions on “Eventful Placemaking”, where current academic research projects were discussed. There was an interesting cross-over with the arts and the role of art festivals, arts precincts and major events in placemaking. These research projects take a practical approach useful for cities and cultural organisations (and rightly challenged my own bias that academic research is – well, academic). I’m sure I’ll have some more conversations with Sandra about some of these projects.
A highlight was the key note by Alison Phipps, UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts at the University of Glasgow.
She opened the conference with a mind-opening keynote both for content and presentation. With “Inhospitable hospitality” Alison Phipps challenged the hospitality community to look at the extreme end of hospitality. Rather than glamorous events, she considered hospitality as experienced by seekers of refuge. She asked “Who decides and where are those decisions made on what constitutes hospitality and what it means to be hospitable?” and challenged us with examples of hospitality, or rather inhospitality, offered to refugees in various parts of the world, which are often prison-like experiences. She suggested that the “refugee crisis” in Europe is actually rather a “hospitality crisis” given the wealth of the continent and the fact that only 15% of global refugees are in the global North (incl. N-America). She asked what this tells about the human condition and the work of the hospitality industry. With the hospitality at airports, hospital and universities also often prison-like, she challenged the industry to find ways to inject a sense of life and empathy into its language, its occupation with efficiency, numbers, project management and logistical systems. Part of hospitality is “overcoming fear”. She offered the arts as a way to re-imagine hospitality, and left the audience to think about what “beautiful, captivating story of hospitality” it could design.
And beautiful and captivating was her keynote, interjected with images, quotes, poetry, music (including herself singing) and personal stories from refugees and her own family – not quite the typical conference slide presentation and an unexpected and thought provoking angle on hospitality, or what in my area of work is called the visitor experience.
A great example of how initiatives for special needs benefit many more people:
One of New Zealand’s supermarket chains has introduced a low-sensory “quiet hour” nationwide. It is “easy on the eyes and ears by reducing noise, lighting and other distractions in-store” and has been developed with support of Autism New Zealand.
“The lovely thing about quiet hour is that we have had very positive feedback from so many customers. Our older customers seem to really enjoy quiet hours too, as well as many other Kiwis who actually just find shopping a bit stressful and can now visit at a more peaceful time.”
Reapplying Maslov’s pyramid of needs to the museum visit
The cartoon is a fun expression of the hierarchy of visitors’ needs.
Working on a visitor experience plan for a client, I was thinking about the hierarchy of needs of visitors to cultural organisations. In an audience research project at Tate a few years ago (with the brilliant Dr Bob Cook from firefish), we found that visitors’ needs fall into a hierarchy similar to Maslov’s pyramid of needs. This proved helpful when thinking through the visitor journey and how to improve the visitor experience.
We found that accessibility and comfort needs had to be met before visitors could move to a more transformational level of enjoying the visit with others, learning and inspiration. This made us think about what expectations we set, how we help visitor to navigate the space, how the environment feels and what information we provide – these are all elements of a good foundation that can be a catalyst for a higher experience in the museum.
In our increasingly digital lives, personal interaction still does make the difference. And it seems to be the best way to increase visitor satisfaction, suggests Colleen Dilenschneider in these two articles based on US visitor data.
People are looking for simplicity, de-materialisation and authenticity. Retail is already integrating this in customer experiences.
This seems to me to be a great opportunity for museums, galleries and other cultural organisations to emphasise how they can facilitate deceleration. (And finally I found another reason to argue for more seating in museums, which is a strangely controversial topic ;).
The power of brand inside organisations – shaping the staff and the visitor experience
I was thinking about branding and came across this interview with branding expert Robert Jones, strategist at Wolff Olins (the agency involved in the development of the Tate brand when Tate Modern first opened) and professor of brand leadership at the University of East Anglia.
What I found particularly interesting is the power of brands inside organisations as they set the tone and culture of the organisation and of staff behaviour.
This strikes me as highly relevant for arts and culture organisations who are about a visitor experience. This experience is to a large part shaped by its staff, those in direct contact with visitors as well as those behind the scenes – the more they live the brand the more visitors will experience it.
This means brand building should not only be thought of as an externally focused marketing activity, but that it can be a strong internal tool. An example from Ikea in the interview, demonstrates the role leadership can play in personifying the brand and setting a powerful example for internal culture and staff behaviour.