Customer experience must improve in 2014, according to more than half of the respondents in a survey conducted by strategy execution consulting company Root Inc.
The survey identified companies’ biggest organizational challenges and priorities for 2014. The top challenges for leaders and businesses include improving the customer experience, driving higher levels of employee engagement, helping employees understand company strategy, as well as developing leadership or manager competencies.
“Changing market conditions or new strategic initiatives keep most organizations in a constant state of flux,” Rich Berens, president of Root Inc., said in the report. “One of the most interesting findings is that across multiple functions, organizations are focused on many of the same things because they recognize how important they are to the business, but the dots are often not connected well across functions. As a result, execution suffers.”
Here are the study’s key takeaways:
Customer Experience Must Improve: 55% of respondents were focused on improving customer experience, and 23% cite “customer satisfaction” as a skill employees should have/strengthen in the next five years
New Strategy Execution Needs Employee Engagement: 48% of respondents want to drive higher levels of employee engagement, and 44% want to help employees understand new strategies and/or changes going on in the company
Manager Empowerment is Vital to Success: 47% are focused on developing leadership or manager competence
The top priorities facing specific business functions or departments for 2014 are similar, but include some subtle differences:
Enhancing the customer experience (75%)
Deploying new strategies or initiatives (72%)
Successfully communicating company strategy (71%)
Growing manager skills (70%)
Among the function-specific priorities:
HR/Training: The top priority is growing manager skills followed by increasing employee engagement
Ops/Strategy: The top priority is enhancing the customer experience followed by sustaining strategy over the long term
Marketing: The top priority is enhancing the customer experience followed by a focus on deploying new strategies or initiatives
Communications: The top priority is deploying new strategies or initiatives and then enhancing the customer experience
The study also revealed how organizations focus their energies when rolling out new strategies internally, typically led by company leaders and influencers:
Leadership Team to Manager: 56% say a strategy is rolled out via one-on-one conversations with key managers or influencers within the company
Corporate Presentation: 56% develop and disseminate presentations to the company
Town Hall: 52% conduct town hall and Q&A meetings.
Development Programs: 52% institute manager/leadership development programs to support new strategy execution
Roundtables: 46% conduct small roundtable discussions to communicate a new strategy or initiative
Videos: 35% say new corporate initiatives and messages are communicated through pre-recorded videos and movies
Training: 30% say their organization uses digital interactive communications solutions like videos, games, and intranets to execute strategies across the organization; 22% develop customized, consultant-based training programs for employees; 11% purchase “boxed” training solutions to help build employee skills for a new strategy or initiative
Outside Consultants: 19% hire strategy execution consultants as facilitators for additional perspective before a strategy rollout
“Many of the challenges and priorities identified in the survey require leaders to convey new strategies or initiatives to the rest of the business,” Behrens added. “Interestingly, most people are still defaulting to the traditional PowerPoint presentation or town hall meetings. While those sometimes serve a purpose, leaders need to look at methods that aren’t just a ‘tell’ to the employees with whom they are trying to connect. They need to convey information in a way that creates intellectual and emotional commitment and clarity on how people can connect to the larger goals of the company. That’s when they’ll see real success.”
The online survey analyzed the responses of 333 U.S.-based full-time and part-time employees across a variety of industries and departments, all at a manager or higher level with decision-making authority. The survey was conducted by Kelton Global, a leading global insights firm.
By: Jim Tierney