Are We Doing Employee Onboarding All Wrong?

employee onboarding huddle

Employee onboarding is the design of what your employees feel, see and hear after they have been hired.

 

Often, companies confuse onboarding with training. While training does have a role within onboarding it doesn’t represent the entire scope of the process.

Say yes or nod your head if you felt lost during your first few days with your past or current company. Better yet, say yes or nod your head if you operate a business or manage people and feel that your employees are lost during their first week.

I’d imagine that many of you said yes or nodded your head. The reason is because employee onboarding doesn’t receive the attention it deserves. Similar to customer experience, we would prefer to invest in more glamourous initiatives like marketing.

Related post: This is Why We Love to Invest in Marketing Before Customer Experience

Employee onboarding is like exercising. We have enough evidence to show that we must spend a considerable amount of time doing it to improve our health but for whatever reason we don’t. Or, we do it, just not very well or as consistent as we should.

I recently read a fantastic New York Times article which highlighted the employee onboarding best practices from admired brands such as: Warby Parker, Bonobos, ZocDoc, Birchbox and Thrillist.

Consider these facts from a study conducted by the Center for American Progress on how much it costs to recruit and train a single employee:

  • $3,328 for an employee earning $10.00/hour
  • $8,000 for a manager earning $40,000/year
  • $210,000 for a C-suite executive earning $100,000/year

 

After understanding these statistics you may approach employee onboarding differently. If you follow my blog or are subscribed to my email list (free ebook available on my homepage), you’ll know that I don’t just quote statistics and that I’m not theoretical. With that being said, let’s outline the things all businesses, regardless of size or industry, must do to have a world class employee onboarding experience.

Design your employee onboarding experience

 

It’s not enough to simply say, “we have a full time trainer, that’s the experience.” As I mentioned earlier, a successful employee onboarding experience is what your employee feels, sees and hears after they have been hired. Similar to how a company will map out and design their customer experience, you must do the same for your employees.

This process isn’t led by a single department or person, it takes an entire company to contribute to the success of it. Ask your current employees what they liked and didn’t like about their onboarding experience. Take the feedback you receive and use it to recreate the employee onboarding process.

Failure to prepare is preparing to fail

 

This step is crucial and I see many businesses fail to execute on this. You must ensure that your new employee is set up for success. Is their work station prepared? Has their email address and phone line been set up? How about access to shared folders and calendars? Have you set aside their welcome package and employee handbook?

Warby Parker does this very well. They send their employees a digital company handbook and welcome packet the day before their first day. If this employee shows up having read all the information that’s a sign of a great hire.

Be different, sincere…and weird

 

In order to build an admired company we must be admired by our employees first. What are some ways we can do this with onboarding?

During the interview process, ask your candidates, “What’s one thing under $10.00 you can’t live without?”

Let’s assume they say their indulgence is a Mars bar. On their first day, have a handwritten card from the CEO or you entire team welcoming them to the company. Accompany this card with a Mars bar. I’ve coached companies to do this and the ROI of this practice is unmeasurable.

See also (video): 4 Customer Service Questions You Must Be Asking When Hiring

Email to the masses

 

Have you ever been to a party or networking event and the person you arrived with did a poor job at introducing you to their friends and family? Well, that awkward experience is what your employees feel as well.

If you’re a small business, walk your new employee to the desks or work areas of every team member and personally introduce them. If you’re a medium or large business, send an email to the entire company or post on your internal online portal introducing your newest team member. You can make it engaging by including their picture and some obscure questions.

Bonobos includes something they call “Two Truths and a Lie.” The new employee shares two things which are true about themselves and one that is a lie. The first employee within the company that determines which are true and which is false receives a $25 gift card for their website.

1-800-GOT-JUNK? hosts a company-wide stand up meeting at 10:55am called Huddle. During this time, if there are new employees in attendance they are introduced in front of the company.

Cross departmental training

 

Of course, you can’t have a world class employee onboarding experience without training. I’ve seen training programs from companies of all sizes and industries which underwhelm me.

Most people think training can be boring but it doesn’t need to be this way. Training can genuinely be fun if you include employees from all departments. Have your CEO come in and say hi and all other department leaders to explain what their team does and how they contribute to the success of the company.

If you’re a small business, think of creative ways to allow employees to lend a hand in training. You’ll be surprised how many of your current employees would be willing to assist in the success of your employee onboarding program if you present the opportunity.

Job shadowing

 

Before becoming an executive coach and keynote speaker, the most fun I had as an employee was while job shadowing. It may be because of the way I learn but I was always very engaged when I would watch how others performed their jobs so that I could replicate success. For me, job shadowing gave me the opportunity to learn from those that have come before me which I believe provided me a springboard to success.

Take a look around your company, are there high performers that you can ask to become mentors for your new employees? This practice will save you time, money and energy.

Employee onboarding is in the DNA of admired companies

 

I advocate that customer experience is the foundation of every successful business. Employee experience must also become a top priority for your company if you want to become an admired brand.

Ensure that your employees are given the tools, education and motivation to succeed, take a step back and watch them contribute to the success of your business.

Here’s an honest questions. Why do you think companies don’t properly invest into employee onboarding? Leave your comments below.

For 28 more tips like these, download my ebook below and get instant access for free.

 

The Top 3 Avoidable Mistakes of Customer Surveys

3 customer survey mistakes

Every company, regardless of size or industry, must use surveys to improve their customer experience.

 

When it comes to customer surveys, I believe there are three types of companies:

The “surveys don’t work” company: This company never collects customer feedback because they are short sighted and don’t know what to do with the data. They often cover up these challenges by saying “surveys don’t work.”

The passive company: A company who passively collects feedback but lets the data sit in a virtual storage unit which brings no value to the customer or the business. In this scenario, I would recommend not collecting feedback at all. You must be willing to go all in.

The admired company: An organization who obsesses over giving their customers a voice, analyzing the data, sharing the knowledge throughout the company and making operational improvements to better their business.

Which company are you?

One of the greatest challenges in using email surveys is having your customers open and complete them. It’s become a habit of consumers to immediately delete these emails and move on.

 

Why is this?

We have been trained to do so. Companies have sent us surveys for ages only to do very little with them. Think about it. How many times have you completed an email survey? How often have you had a company follow up with you? During my time at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? our goal was to respond to all customers within one business day after receiving their feedback. In fact, we had a 90/1 rule which meant that our goal was to respond to 90% of customers within one business day.

By responding to customers quickly, we built trust and created peace of mind that if they took the time to respond to our survey we would pay the respect by responding back to them. This practice was not only reserved for complaints.

There are three key reasons why your customers aren’t completing your customer surveys.

 

Not creating an engaging and authentic subject line

 

Take a look at your email subject line. Do you know what it is? Remove yourself as an owner or employee and ask yourself,

“Would I open this?”

Case Study #1: Let’s use Rogers communication (Canada’s leading telecommunications company) as an example. As of last week, this is their subject line.

customer survey Rogers

“Your Feedback is Requested – Rogers Customer Experience” is mundane and doesn’t make me want to engage. Also, it makes me feel that they are only asking for my feedback to serve their own agenda. You need to have a subject line that resonates with your customers and makes them feel that the request is to serve them. For me, an email subject line such as “Did we wow you? Please tell us in five minutes” or “How can we improve? Tell us in three minutes” would have influenced me to complete their customer survey.

What would you recommend Rogers change their subject line to? Leave your response in the comment section below.

The team at Crazy Egg have put together a great post to give you some examples to recreate your subject line. Review your current customer survey email subject line, do some A/B testing and see what converts best.

Not keeping the customer survey lean

 

Personally, I won’t fill out any customer survey that is longer than ten questions. This is part of the reason why the Net Promoter Score (NPS) has become popular among companies of all sizes. You want your survey to be long enough to give you insight into how to improve your business but short enough not to cause “survey fatigue” with your customers.

SEE ALSO: How to Influence Your Boss to Adopt Net Promoter Score Without Pushback

Case Study #2: Qantas airlines is a fantastic example of keeping their customer survey short, direct and to the point. As you can see, they also use NPS.

Quantas customer survey

Earlier this year, a commercial real estate company reached out to me for my customer experience expertise. They were asking dozens of questions with NPS being one of them. They were hesitant to solely focus on NPS because they were scared that they wouldn’t get the feedback they needed.

I immediately recognized their problem. They were gathering customer feedback for their own agenda. They wanted to gather insight into what they believed was most important. Part of the reason why NPS is so valuable is because you are able to ask two questions (or a few), sit back and wait to hear what’s most important to your customers.

After all, isn’t that the power of the Voice of the Customer? Annette Franz, voice of the customer expert and Director of VOC consulting at Confirmit, wrote a great post titled “Does It Pay to Listen to the Voice of the Customer?”

Take a look at your current survey, are you asking too many questions causing your company to receive too few responses?

Not making the experience digital and mobile responsive

 

It’s 2014 and I still see physical customer survey boxes. In order to increase survey complete rates we need to make it easy for our customers to do so. Systems such as geofencing and iBeacon will allow us to gather feedback from our customers in a way that is much easier for them and us.

If you are currently using physical boxes, consider these challenges. You’re asking your customers to spend too much time writing out their comments. You will have to have a SPA manually sort through each comment, categorize them and try to make sense of it all. Plus, it’s not easy to share customer feedback throughout your company, both good and bad, when it’s delivered in such a fragmented way.

Case Study #3: CLIENTpulse

CLIENTpulse is software to power customer feedback. What I appreciate about this software is their UX, their clean UI and that it is mobile responsive.. If I were to receive a customer survey from a company powered by CLIENTpulse the likelihood is that I would engage which would increase the probability that I would respond. As you can see, the CLIENTpulse software is easy to use on mobile phones and tablets.

Clientpulse Mobile

Consider it a cardinal sin if you don’t optimize your survey for mobile phones and tablets. Don’t ask your customers to squint or zoom to complete your customer survey.

By effectively leveraging customer surveys, hosting customer advisory boards and designing your customer experience your company will be on the path to creating a customer centric company.

Tell me. What other features do you look for in an email customer survey? Leave your comments below.

 

Why Customer Experience is Still Being Neglected by Companies of all Sizes

customer experience leader - kat cole

Every great business has a foundation comprised of a superior customer experience. It’s what holds everything together during times of turbulence.

 

I speak with entrepreneurs representing businesses of all sizes and industries on a daily basis. I can confidently say that the majority of these business people aren’t investing their resources to improve the customer experience because they don’t genuinely know what it is or how to define it.

Growing up, when my grandfather recommended that I focus my entrepreneurial efforts on learning customer experience, I equated it to being the same thing as customer service. I figured that customer service was simply something I received while at the grocery store when I needed to pay for my items. Customer experience is different than customer service but one can’t live without the other.

Customer experience is the premeditated design of what your customer experiences when doing business with you from beginning to end.

 

Now that I’ve studied the operations of some of the most admired companies in the world, I know that customer experience can be what your customers feel, see, taste, hear and smell. It can encompass all of your five senses. Disney captures customers through emotions and how their customers feel when they are at Disneyland. Alec Monopoly has become a mainstream graffiti artist because of what we see. Part of Ben and Jerry’s customer experience is what their customers taste. Michael Buble sells out stadiums across the world because his customers love what they hear. Cinnabon has earned my money through the smell of their cinnamon buns.

Video: This is the difference between customer experience, customer service and customer centricity

Customer experience will lead to customer loyal if you’re consistent

 

To have loyal customers, you can’t simply have one flagship product or one touch point that makes your customers smile. You must have an operation that delivers on their promises at each interaction. This is why customer experience is so difficult. When you have exceeded the expectations of your customers that now becomes the bare minimum. Apple would not be the most valuable company in the world if it didn’t have a strict focus on customer experience. Sure, they would still have their world class products but I’m confident that their products would not have received the same amount of adoption if their service delivery was poor. Apple designed their stores and enhanced the customer experience propelling them forward and past the competition.

See alsoApple hires ‘wicked smart’ Burberry CEO to run retail

customer experience apple store

Customer experience is a high level initiative that is gaining awareness but still lacks boardroom and management buy-in.

Customer service is the micro interactions you have with your customers.

 

Customer service can be a friendly and efficient employee at your grocery store. It can also be a company that resolves a complaint immediately rather than after five attempts of contacting them. I equate customer service to micro interactions because often it is the little things that count. It’s the small gestures that a company consistently delivers that makes up part of the entire customer experience.

A micro interaction are the small, subtle, memorable and affordable things that a company does to gain your trust.

Braintree is a world class example of customer service and micro interactions

 

The other day, I visited Braintree’s website and was delivered amazing customer service after filling out their contact page.

braintree

After filling out the contact form, I wasn’t pushed to a typical, “thank you” page. Instead, Braintree designed a page that humanized their brand. Whether the person shown is an actual employee or not is irrelevant. What they have done is given their customers a unique and trustworthy experience by delivering a micro interaction. This also builds peace of mind in that they will deliver on their promise and contact me. For the record, a Braintree team member contacted me the same day.

Entrepreneurs must know the difference between customer experience and customer service

 

Both customer experience and customer service must live in harmony together for your company to become admired. Once you have identified the difference between the two, you will be in a better position to look at your operation from a more holistic view and create an experience that your customers become loyal to.

What companies are you loyal to because of their customer experience?

To learn more customer and employee experience strategies from the world’s most admired brands, download my free ebook below.

10 Customer Experience Laws to Become an Admired Company

 customer experience companies

Having a strict focus on customer experience will lead to your company becoming an admired brand.

 

More often than not, an admired brand can also lead to financial success. Companies such as Westjet, Airbnb and Zappos make customer experience a top priority and reap the benefits in all aspects of their business. Regardless of the size of your business, you can use these laws to your advantage to beat your competition.

In this post, I outline 10 laws you can use as a check list to evaluate the state of your company’s customer experience.

 

For the entire list of 28 traits, receive it here.

Law #1: Executives and managers want to uncover the good as much as they want to discover the bad.

Customer focused companies don’t hide when poor service is delivered; they run to understand why.

Law #2: Inspect what you expect to ensure uninterrupted service is being delivered.

Customer experience driven organizations are always evaluating the current state of their customer experience through voice of the customer programs, customer advisory boards and mystery shopping.

Law #3: Have your management team rub shoulders with your frontlines.

The CEO’s of customer centric companies aren’t arrogant or feel that they are above their frontline employees.

Law #4: Never say “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

Be willing to embrace change to improve.

Law #5: Part with customers who are demeaning your employees.

A customer centric company will stand behind their employees when a customer is being irrational. They will sacrifice the numbers to save a relationship with their employees.

Law #6: “What’s the ROI of customer experience?” isn’t asked, it’s understood.

Customer centric organizations never question the power of a superior customer experience strategy.

Law #7: Customer related initiatives and strategies are always on yearly strategic plans.

They give customer experience the same attention that marketing receives. The majority of companies invest more in marketing than customer experience.

Law #8: Believe that organizational silos are the poison to create customer experience strategies.

The departments of these company’s all work together to create a seamless customer experience.

Law #9: Customer experience is the foundation of a superior sales strategy.

Customer centric companies enjoy high repeat purchases and referrals from existing customers which gives them an organic sales lead generation.

Law #10: Long term investments in customer experience strategies are accepted, even when the ROI is years away.

Customer centric companies are patient.

Companies such as Apple, Zappos and Disney have a reputation of being admired and can be found on Fortune magazines Most Admired list. I believe companies like Bevel and Zendesk will be on that list one day.

SEE ALSO: How Zendesk, ZenPayroll and Tangerine Make Their Customers Smarter, Efficient and Successful.

For the entire list of 28 traits, receive it here.

Improve Your Customer Experience or Become Poor

Poor customer experience

“Our customer experience is so poor that we lost the 10% growth we achieved last year. What happened?”

 

“How are we going to increase our sales by 15%?”

 

“We need more customers! How are we going to market to them?”

 

Have any of these questions been asked out loud within your organization? I’m sure they have. Genuine customer loyalty is defined by delivering an amazing customer experience which builds consumer confidence, word of mouth marketing and repeat purchases. The organizations that have designed and successfully deployed their customer experience are reaping the financial benefits. Let’s follow their lead.

SEE ALSO: How to Build a Business with a Customer Experience Focus

What will an improved customer experience do for your business?

 

We are all loyal to an organization for one reason or another. I’m loyal to Starwood hotel group for their customer experience and because they offer me peace of mind. Since they take care of me as a customer, I take care of them financially by spending with them frequently. I have many options when choosing hotels when I travel for work but because of their consistent customer experience I willingly spend more to stay with them and I encourage my friends and family to do the same.

We don’t admire and respect organizations because of their newly designed logos or high earnings. Companies become admired when they have a defined organizational understanding that their mission is to deliver service that is predictable and memorable. We didn’t begin to admire Zappos because they had 10,000′s of products within their online store. Westjet Airlines didn’t become a case study for customer centricity because they offered competitive rates. Disney doesn’t become the company that we know without their level of service. Without customer experience these companies aren’t the names we now respect.

Your bottom line loves customer experience

 

CFO’s and small business owners love customer experience because it offers a low cost of customer acquisition. When I emphatically promote a business that I am loyal to because of their customer experience it encourages my friends and family to do business with this company too. When they do, the cost of acquiring this customer is very low, or nothing, because of the power of word of mouth and customer loyalty. Of course, earning genuine customer loyalty doesn’t come easy. Read some of the obstacles you may face when trying to achieve loyal customers.

If we know this to be true then why do we still lack the investment to improve the customer experience? Well, I have some thoughts on that, too. The alternative is paying for traditional media that can cost an arm and a leg without any definite proof that it will help us acquire new customers.

I’m sure Blockbuster and Circuit City never thought they would one day shut their doors but it happened. Many reasons go into filing for bankruptcy but one thing I know very well is that if you lose focus on your customer experience it gives your competitors an opportunity to steal your customers. Small businesses are threatened by the Amazon’s of the world but if you ensure you are consistently delivering exceptional service to your existing customers it will give you a fighting chance to survive.

There are two type of organizations.

 

#1: This organization is constantly trying to fill their sales funnel because none of their customers will repeatedly do business with them because of their poor customer experience.

#2: This organization is admired, often in the media and grow quarter over quarter. This company is devoted to service and find that their sales funnel is always full. They don’t stress about sales targets, they build strategies to leverage their success into even greater accomplishments.

Why do you believe that some organizations move like snails to investment in improving their customer experience?

 
The 28 Traits of Organizations Who Are Customer Experience Titans

Have you ever wondered how Apple, Amazon and Zappos became admired, billion dollar brands?

Here’s your chance to discover what these companies all have in common. By signing up, in addition to the Ebook, you’ll also receive weekly tips delivered to your email that share customer and employee experience strategies that you can use to become a more profitable company. Sign up today!

We respect your email privacy