In a recent article, Oleg Vishnepolsky, the global CTO at DailyMail Online and Metro.Co.Uk, talked about how to earn loyalty from your employees. Here’s one statement from the post that really stood out:
“You earn loyalty not by telling your people how great you are, not by your profit reports, and NOT by your mission statements. You earn loyalty by doing something good for your people.”
While he was speaking in the context of employer/employee relationships, that same principle extends to the customer relationship as well. When you do right by your employees, they will do right by your customers—and vice versa.
Happy employees usually lead to happy customers. Unhappy employees lead to unhappy customers.
So what does that have to do with software? Great question.
Before we answer it, let’s take a closer look at what your customers think of your company and how happy they really are.
Net Promoter Score and Customer Loyalty
We generally measure customer satisfaction by how willing people are to recommend a company to their friends and how loyal they are to the brand. The most popular metric used to evaluate this is known as your Net Promoter Score (NPS).
Net Promoter Score ranks customer satisfaction on an index ranging from -100 to +100. You can determine your NPS by sending short surveys to your customers asking them how likely they are to recommend your product or service to a friend on a scale from 0 to 10. Customers who fall into the 0-6 range are Detractors, those in the 7-8 range are Passive, and those in the 9-10 range are Promoters.
To calculate your NPS, subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters:
Once you know your Net Promoter Score, you have a baseline that you can use to ensure you are improving customer satisfaction as you pinpoint the issues that are causing problems.
And of course, these issues can include poor customer service caused by inefficient internal software.
Internal Software Problems Trickle Down to Your Customers
Why did we take all that time to talk about Net Promoter Score on a software development blog? Because the software you use in your company directly impacts on employee satisfaction, which in turn has a direct impact on customer satisfaction.
Here are just a few of the problems your employees have to deal with when they’re working with bad software:
Whether your employees are running reports, filling orders, managing a call center, or doing any of the other vital tasks that keep your business running, bad software gums up the works. When your software can’t keep up with demanding deadlines and pressure to meet productivity expectations, stress escalates.
We all know what it’s like to sit there drumming our fingers while we wait for a page to load or something to download. Inefficient software multiplies that frustration as the tool hampers the task instead of facilitating it.
Lack of Engagement
Employee engagement is directly related to employee productivity—and the frustrations of bad software can sabotage the whole process. When your employees can’t do their jobs efficiently because of poor system integration, loss of data integrity, or slow processing, you can count on morale slumps.
When software is inefficient, so are your employees. Good software boosts productivity and helps you serve customers well; bad software does the exact opposite.
System maintenance problems like update requirements and technical snafus keep your employees from doing their jobs efficiently. Nobody has time to mess with IT support tickets when deadlines are looming or when customers are agitating.
As employees struggle to resolve these issues while still maintaining productivity output, their frustrations often trickle down to customers. Even if employees keep their cool, they may not be able to serve customers well and keep them from getting frustrated. In either case, customer satisfaction declines, and your company pays the price.
How Better Software Greases the Wheels of Progress
Fortunately, there’s a solution: better software. No, a new software solution isn’t a panacea for all your customer woes. But it can give your employees the resources they need to serve customers well.
Here are six ways a new software solution can improve employee performance:
Software can affect the productivity of the entire organization. Employees perform at their best when the tools they use make their jobs easier (obviously). That means employees should be able to find what they need, understand how to perform necessary functions, run reports, and share information with other users quickly and efficiently. Your productivity goals as an organization depend heavily on your software programs. If it’s getting in the way, find a way to replace or upgrade it.
2. Performance Management
Trends in performance management include more frequent feedback, better employee evaluation processes, employee engagement tools, and more sophisticated reward systems. All of these things rely on software to keep your employees at their best—and to keep your managers up to speed on how employees are performing. With the right software tools at their disposal, your employees can focus more on remaining engaged with their colleagues, your customers, and your company mission.
When your software locks you into rigid procedures—especially procedures that don’t match real-world business processes—employee satisfaction suffers. That’s because software should function in the role of servant, not master. Well-designed software includes a measure of fluidity to procedural best practices so that employees can meet expectations more efficiently. Otherwise, you run the risk of bogging your employees down in endless busy work and duplicative work.
While it’s tempting to argue that employees can and should learn whatever system you already have in place—regardless of usability—the truth is that employees often don’t use the resources available to them when the system is outdated or difficult to learn. Instead, they’ll fall back on less efficient systems or manual processes. (If your organization uses a lot of Excel spreadsheets, you are living out this truth.) Today’s employees expect the software they use at work to function similarly to the software they choose for personal use. Mobile accessibility, intuitive navigation, clean design, and straightforward processes help your employees stay on task as they learn the software and perform daily operations. You can also improve user experience by centralizing data across departments, maintaining network resources, upgrading security measures, and facilitating deeper analytics.
Security and usability often seem to be at odds with one another. It’s not always easy to get the right mix. Still, it’s possible to create usable, secure systems when you start with the right coding. Simplifying processes and configuring accessibility based on user requirements will keep your data secure without creating unnecessary barriers for employees.
6. Data Access
As analytics and data mining gain prominence, efficient access to the right data has become essential to job performance. But that’s a problem when your data is housed in different silos that can’t communicate with each other. Better data integration keeps the right information available to the right employees when they need it—without having to jump through 18 hurdles along the way.
When Employees Ain’t Happy…
That brings us back to our net promoter score. What does internal software have to do with customer satisfaction?
If you grew up in the South, you have probably heard the phrase, “When Mama aint’ happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
That’s true for your employees too.
Happy employees make happy customers. Unhappy employees, on the other hand, will eventually result in unhappy customers.
By giving your employees the software tools they need to do their jobs well, you help them serve customers better. And that’s good for more than just your Net Promoter Score.
It’s good for the future of your company as well.