As more companies pursue digital transformation, these efforts require a critical look at the internal processes and tools employees rely on every day. When employees feel empowered by (and are highly engaged with) their tech stack, it translates to better service and support for customers. That being said, many organizations struggle to maximize the value of their internal applications.
In a recent webinar, we were joined by Leigh Rouse, head of billing at Farmers Insurance, and Chris Wolniewicz, senior technology engagement consultant at RE/MAX. Both have been focused on initiatives to optimize employees’ digital experience: Leigh and her team recently rolled out a new internal application for billing services (Billing Hub), and Chris has been involved in the company’s transition to digital internal products.
Leigh and Chris shared insight into how they’ve leveraged digital tools to improve employee satisfaction and productivity, both echoing the notion that your customer experience will never exceed that of your employees. Here are five of their best tips:
1. Determine what success looks like upfront
Unlike external-facing products, internal applications don’t necessarily correlate directly with revenue, so it’s important to identify success metrics and narrow your focus early on. This will look different for every company, but one way to approach measurement is by examining the ways the employee experience directly affects the service customers receive.
For example, Leigh and the Billing Hub team identified agent capacity as a key success metric. Their focus was on providing a low effort experience for agents and, in turn, customers, measured by the amount of billing-related requests their contact center received. Ideally, the contact rate is low and agents are able to spend the majority of their time servicing customers rather than dealing with internal software hiccups.
Chris explained that the technology engagement team at RE/MAX is hyper-focused on product usage, specifically time inside the app and login frequency. This helps their development team identify any areas of the product or specific workflows where agents may be running into problems.
2. Get buy-in at the highest level
Improving the digital employee experience usually involves building new internal capabilities, updating existing ones, or bringing in outside products. Thus, it not only requires approval at the highest level, but for your leadership team to be bought into the initiative’s long-term purpose and goals.
One way to sell the importance of this type of investment is to frame it in terms of potential cost savings. At Farmers, Leigh emphasized to her leadership team the need for low effort internal capabilities, which ultimately translates to increased productivity and lower costs. More importantly, her team measures this on an ongoing basis through the handle time for calls and employee experience metrics like NPS.
Another point to anchor on is how these changes will positively impact your customers. For RE/MAX, transitioning to digital products internally was really about improving the agent to customer relationship. The more seamless the digital experience is for agents, the more equipped they will be to help their customers.
3. Leverage product data for incremental improvements
Just like any customer-facing product, internal applications hinge on constant testing, iteration, and improvement. Chris explained how at RE/MAX, the team maps product usage data against the frequency of issues users report in order to better understand where improvements to the product will be most impactful. They also use product data to understand which workflows the majority of agents leverage, and which features may be more beneficial for less technical vs. tech-savvy users.
While making improvements to internal digital products is necessary, you don’t want to implement too many changes at once. When rolling out the new Billing Hub platform, Leigh and the team didn’t want to overwhelm the thousands of agents and advocates who provide billing services to customers, so they decided to initially only tackle some of the low hanging fruit. Then, once they had more insight into how agents were using the platform, they used that data to make incremental changes and focused their efforts on change management and driving adoption.
4. Create an active feedback loop
Product data can tell you a lot about how users are engaging with an application, but it’s important to marry this quantitative data with qualitative feedback from users directly. And rather than just listening to the loudest voice, teams need a way to collect feedback at scale without disrupting users’ workflows.
At RE/MAX, they’ve been able to collect feedback via in-app guides to better understand what users need, allowing the team to improve the application over time, focus on the right features, and (most importantly) close the feedback loop with users. Like any application, your internal tools are always subject to change, which requires an open mindset and the understanding that users’ needs constantly evolve–and the product needs to adapt accordingly.
5. Communicate with employees in-app
Your employees are busy, and they aren’t likely going to go out of their way to learn about new features or improved functionality for internal tools. With in-app messaging, you can easily communicate these types of updates when the information is most relevant: while employees are using the application.
At RE/MAX, for example, they’ve leveraged in-app messages at the login portal to inform agents of new feature releases, solicit development ideas, and promote their mobile app. They also include more information in the applications themselves, so after agents see an initial announcement, they can get more details once they log in.
For Leigh and the Billing Hub team, in-app messages also have a direct impact on the customer experience. They used Pendo to identify which customers aren’t enrolled in paperless billing and created in-app guides to alert agents about their customers who fall into this group. As a result, agents are better informed of which customers they need to reach out to, and the team saw a 3x increase in the rate of enrollment in paperless billing.
Want to see the full discussion? Check out the webinar recording here: