Harness the Voice of the Employee for competitive advantage

Summary:As a a management strategy, Voice of the Customer is critical to business success - but don't lose sight of Voice of the Employee, writes Leslie Owens.

What's a customer-obsessed company? One that is deeply committed to know and engage with its customers. The three winners of our 2011 Voice of the Customer award -- Adobe, Fidelity and JetBlue -- don't just train employees to deliver great customer experiences; they monitor service satisfaction and systematically act on what they learn. My colleague Zach Hofer-Shall calls this management and analysis of customer-generated information "Social Intelligence."

I think the Voice of the Employee should share the spotlight with the Voice of the Customer.

Few clients I talk to analyze employee-generated information the way that they do customer-generated information. It's now mainstream to listen to customer opinions regarding your product's or service's shortfalls or what competitors do better. But it's cutting-edge to listen to employees as part of a consistent, automated, scalable, strategic initiative. I am not talking about reading private emails or sending an annual employee survey. Instead I mean mining solicited sources like open-ended feedback requests and unsolicited sources like wikis, content archives and public internal social profile pages.

In a mature collaborative enterprise, it's exciting to think of the potential competitive advantage from aggregating, segmenting and analyzing the Voice of the Employee (VoE). Think of the questions that could be answered: "Why do we not close deals in the public sector?" or "Will our product ship on time?" Incorporate structured data in the mix, and you could ask questions like: "What type of employee outperforms his peers after training?"

Like their counterparts in marketing who focus on customers, you could say Content & Collaboration (C&C) professionals are employee-obsessed. If you:

  • roll out social platforms
  • foster idea jams
  • structure team workspaces
  • coordinate eLearning

your work helps your organization communicate, build relationships and share knowledge. You empower employees to engage with one another. Engaged employees are more productive, just as engaged customers are more loyal. In fact, employee and customer metrics for advocacy, satisfaction and loyalty are often linked, rising and falling in tandem. (See reports on Employee Advocacy and VoE programs.)

By deploying spaces that encourage interaction, C&C pros have built the foundation for workplace intelligence. But what lies ahead is a systematic approach to mining and acting on the insights available inside our organizational walls. In two weeks, I will speak on this topic at the Content & Collaboration Forum here in Boston. I hope you can join us and contribute to the discussion around the latest trends in technology adoption and how firms forge better business outcomes from a more mobile, social, and virtual workforce.

Topics: Hardware, CXO, IT Employment

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