A third dimension to employee & customer experiences.

January 2021

26 years ago, Harvard Review published its study of the service profit chain with US retail giant Sears, where it showed the positive impact employee satisfaction has on profitability.  In those days HR always played second fiddle to Finance, however with this ground-breaking study coinciding with the advent of employee self-service, there was suddenly recognition for the role of HR technology in improving employee satisfaction.

A couple of recent experiences prompted me to revisit this study and to consider how today’s technology might impact both the employee and customer experience and why its so important for organisations to rapidly consider using joined up technologies across the service profit chain if it wants to stay in business.

A real-life scenario

Like many in the UK, a quiet Covid-19 Christmas period created the ideal opportunity to prepare for the annual tax returns well in advance of the 31 January deadline.   The first task to extract annual interest statements from a couple of bank accounts should be very straightforward.

By simply logging online and selecting the interest statement from a dropdown menu that should do the trick.  However, our main account is with a very well-established high street bank, founded in 1765 which I have had since I was 16.  When I failed to remember where the statements are normally found, I typed in a combination of searchable items, “interest” and then “tax” under the FAQ section expecting it to point me to the information, but nothing appeared in the results.

Frustrated with the amount of time taken, I phoned the help desk.   The advisor I spoke to was clearly inexperienced, he had to keep putting me on hold, for what I considered a very simple question.  Despite me challenging his answer, I was informed the only way to obtain the information was for him to make a request and for this to be sent to me in the post.   As a technologist, I despise paper at the best of times, so I put the phone down in disbelief and went to one of my other accounts which is with one of the new “challenger” banks.  Following a search on Google “Tax statement Starling” Within 30 seconds, I had logged into the account with a QR scan for security and downloaded the statement.

Explaining to my wife that she too needed to request her statement from the traditional bank via the phone, she encountered a different experience when she spoke to a more experienced advisor who explained how to extract the information online.

I suspect the reasons for the poor and inconsistent experience we received, was due to poor implementation of technology or lack of training, but it made me consider how new technology might have avoided this situation from arising.

This was reinforced when I could not remember the account details for my mobile phone online account, when I was presented with a chatbot.   Within a 60 second engagement with a robot, I was logged back into my account feeling very positive about the experience.

That may not be the same experience for many people requesting their P11d or P60’s at this time when they find themselves in the same position as I did with my bank.  Imagine the employee dissatisfaction if you encountered a similar experience.

If my established bank had implemented chatbot, I am very confident my customer experience would have been transformed.   If either I or the inexperienced advisor had access to a chatbot to ask where to find my tax statement, in the same way the mobile phone chatbot worked, it would have been a far more positive experience for both of us.   Instead, I am sure the advisor is left frustrated by my reaction because he was not given the correct knowledge to advise me, and I am left wondering how long it will be before my long-established bank disappears because it is unable to maintain my loyalty.

A positive customer experience is always critical in any business and this example demonstrates the power of technology, if implemented correctly, to enhance both the employee and customer experience to retain customers and increase profitability.