Your marketing department is 10 years ahead of you, says one HR consultant. What are the lessons human resources can take from marketers’ approach to the customer experience?
In the age of disruption, one way to assess companies that are succeeding is to look at their marketing department’s strategy. The most successful ones are putting the customer at the centre of everything they do.
And HR needs to be more like them, says Simon Corcoran, former HR manager at PwC and co-CEO at HR consultancy A-HA! (A Human Agency).
“We talk a lot about the future of work in HR at the moment, and in my opinion the future of work is the employee experience.”
For the past 20 years, marketing professionals have argued that if you can figure out exactly what your customer wants, you can set up your strategy, brand, product and services to cater to that, he says. “You know who’s buying, who’s not buying and if they’re not buying, how do you get them.”
The same can be applied to the employees experience (EX) at work. “What you’re seeing with a lot of the bigger organisations and some smaller ones too is that if you can get your ‘customer experience’ right, you’ll see the results.”
“We can learn a lot from the path that marketing has paved”
Marketing and the customer experience are now an integral part of everyday businesses, because, over the last few decades, they’ve been able to prove their worth by showing the relationship between the customer and the organisation, says Corcoran. “And they absolutely have a seat at the table now because of it.”
“That whole experience about refining the customer journey through mapping, and understanding the value proposition has been a really credible and fantastic journey for organisations to experience,” he says. Most importantly, it’s given them a vision of how behaviour translates to commercial success.
Now he says it’s HR’s turn to create a compelling employee experience that clearly maps the relationship between employee and the organisation.
The employee-centric workplace
In order to decode the customer experience, the marketing profession has developed methodologies such as customer journey maps and personas connected to the sales cycle in order to understand the pathways different customers can take to make a sale. HR can adopt these same methodologies for employees, says Corcoran – to understand how their journey at an organisation fits with a business strategy. For example, “we can take take critical roles such as graduates, mid-level employees and senior executives and run personas through to understand; ‘what would the ideal experience be for this specific employee?’”
Another element Corcoran says is applicable from marketing is the concept of the “promoter”. In marketing this may refer to a high-spending customer, or customer who advocates for a brand to their peers. In HR a promoter is “a highly engaged employee.” At his own consultancy, tools that score and analyse the behaviours and feelings of highly engaged employees are able to identify what most inspires and motivates people in their day-to-day work – and how to share that with some of the less-inspired members of the business. “Once we know who they are, and why they love coming to work, we can harness that data.”
EX: creating a “bespoke” experience
Organisations can bring engagement and EX together by using data to design bespoke experiences “that really up the ante on delivering an exciting proposition to employees.”
“Data is king in the HR world,” says Corcoran. And while many HR professionals have access to big data, few are using it well. “Marrying a marketing-driven mindset about employee experience with data allow us to create hypotheses around what our EX is, and then test it to give a longitudinal view for the business,” say Corcoran.
“If we can use data to create history maps of a business, we’ll be able to look back over a period of time and be able to map out the historical footprint of the business. Too often we just look at the data for now; we need to look at the data over a period of time.”
The marketing mindset, he says, asks ‘how do we get better at understanding our employee experience, from how they create relationships at work, how they fit into the business strategy, and how they support and promote the company brand’.
“It has to come from data-driven insights that determine how companies can create compelling experiences for employees.”
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