Customer and Employee Collaboration Solve Different Problems |

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Customer and Employee Collaboration Solve Different Problems


Posted by on November 7, 2011

Recently I had a conversation with the CEO of a company (anonymous since I discuss that I will be blogging this) that provides customer community solutions (so clearly he is already biased).  This person is a friend so we usually get in little debates about things pertaining to customer and employee collaboration.  For some reason the conversations usually turn to, “why do organizations need employee collaboration platforms?”  Why can’t they just stick with email, intranets, and phone systems?  The conversations sometimes also steers down, “the best way to inspire and engage your employees is to show them how you delight your customers.”  Basically what this CEO likes to argue (I’m sure he does this just to irk me!) is that customer communities can change companies and provide for far more inspiring and engaging fodder for employees, aka customer engagement and communities are more valuable than employee engagement and communities.

Now, if you’re like me you will clearly see that it’s not a question of what is better or what is more valuable.  Both are valuable because both solve different problems.  Customer communities and engagement are great for things such as:

  • providing great customer experiences
  • learning from your customers and changing your products and services based on customer feedback
  • connecting customers to each other to help them provide peer support
  • evolution to customer-centric organizations
  • allowing your customers to feel connected to and a part of your organization

Now while these things may be true, the problems or challenges that emergent collaboration among employees seeks to solve are quite different, such as:

  • allowing employees to find subject matter experts within organizations
  • giving employees the opportunity to share their ideas which oftentimes lead to new opportunities
  • helping employees feel engaged and fulfilled at work
  • making the lives of employees easier by allowing them to access everything they need to get their jobs done from one central area
  • improving employee productivity
  • forming communities of interest in the workplace
  • and many other things

The CEO of this company told me that customers really help change the world with inspiring stories that help fuel employees at work.  True, but in large organizations not every employee is going to be aware of these customer stories and so collaboration tools can help share this information with those employees that might not be on the front line engaging with customers.  Not only that but think about how passionate your customers can be and now imagine if your employees felt the same way when they came to work.  Where your employees new why they came to work and what their purpose was, where they felt connected to the organization in more than just a “paycheck” way.  I truly feel that emergent collaboration strategies and technologies can really change the world of business not just from a productivity and profit standpoint but from a much more valuable personal and human standpoint.

We always talk about humanizing the brand and how important that is to our customers, well hey guess what, humanizing the brand and helping our employees feel like they are a part of the organization is just as important!  I find the employee collaboration stories that I have been putting together very inspiring.  Everything from improving communication at an educational institution, to helping a small business to grow, to improving innovation at a mid-size organization, to speeding up on-boarding time of new employees at a printing company.

One of the other truly fascinating things about emergent collaboration in the enterprise is that the ideas employees share don’t need to be revolutionary in order to have an impact on the organization.  It’s oftentimes the simple, the mundane, and the (what most would consider) non-interesting ideas that can truly shape the future of an organization.

If you make the life of an employee at work more fulfilling, engaging, and easier then that employee will become happier at work and I believe happier in their personal lives, yes I think this can change the world.

I don’t know maybe it’s just me but I find that improving the lives of employees at work  and empowering them is pretty damn cool!

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  • http://www.masterarticlemarketer.com Benjamin Ehinger

    It is vitally important to use the knowledge of your employees to build a better business.  This is a highly useful post that many businesses could benefit from.

    • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

      thanks for the comment Benjamin and I agree with you 110%

  • http://jonathanhowkins.com Rick Holden

    I agree! Communication is very important in any business. Employees should reach their customers to know their needs and wants and customers must discuss their problems with the employees, through this problems can be solve in no time.

    • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

      Thanks for the comment Rick, of course we can’t function without communication and collaboration!

  • Anonymous

    I really like the comment you made about the fact that “humanizing” the brand for employees is just as important as humanizing the brand for customers. In the end, the customer experience will always be dependent on how they interact with various groups within the organization..this means there are many different departments and people involved in keeping your customers happy, so better internal collaboration, sharing of knowledge and internal engagement will shape the experiences your customers have with your brand.

    • http://www.thefutureorganization.com jacobmorgan

      It’s funny because I get into friendly arguments with consultants/vendors that typically cover or provide technology solutions for one or the either.  Everyone likes to argue which one is better or more valuable but it’s sort of like saying, “what’s more valuable to your car the engine or the frame of the car?”  Well, you can’t really make that comparison as they do different things but ideally you would have both to have a fully functioning automobile.  

      I completely agree with what you said above, “sharing of knowledge and internal engagement will shape the experiences your customers have with your brand.”

      Very well said!

  • http://karthikchakkarapani.wordpress.com Karthik Chakkarapani

    Great post. If you want to collaborate with your customers better, you will need to do the same internally and be good at it as well. This will avoid the digital/social divide. This keeps the entire organization involved, engaged and motivated.

  • shawn07

    Enjoyed reading those beautiful comments. It seems very useful and informative for us. Keep posting more wonderful thoughts.

    B2B marketplace


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