Behind every satisfied customer there is a satisfied employee

Behind every satisfied customer there is a satisfied employee

Creating satisfying customer interactions should be a priority for all businesses. It all begins with satisfied and happy employees who are more likely to have an energetic, enthusiastic and customer oriented approach to the employer and their own tasks. They are more likely to have a positive disposition when interacting with your customers.

One of your customer’s first experience with your brand is interacting with your employees. If this interaction is positive, your customer will associate this positive experience with your brand. If the customers have a positive experience at your business, you are more likely to have higher levels of customer satisfaction which leads to higher levels of customer and brand loyalty. It can also contribute to your business by word of mouth referral. When customers have a good experience with your brand, they will tell other people about your excellent service.

 Your frontline staff members that have direct and daily contact and interactions with your customers, should be seen as valuable assets. When you’re employees are valued, the customers’ experience of your business improves and it forms the basis for customer loyalty.

 According to Forbes, when employees feel emotionally committed to their organisation and its goals, they have higher levels of discretionary effort. They do their best at their job, because they value their job and the commitments and obligations as set out in their roles and responsibilities. Engaged employees are loyal and have higher effect of customer ratings, profitability, productivity, turnover and quality. They also contribute to the reputation of the brand.

 Customers who trust your brand are repeat shoppers, they support your business and love doing so. When you have proven to be reliable to your customers, whenever they hear of a friend of theirs having an issue that your business helped them solve, they will tell their friends about you. We live in a digital age and websites exist with the sole purpose of rating businesses by having consumers leave a review of the business. When your customers trust you, they will leave a positive review. This will boost your business.

 By treating your employees right, you show them how to treat your customers right. By increasing employee engagement, you will increase the value your employees attach to their job, which in turn, will make them perform better. What many businesses do not release is that in truth, their employees are their first customer and that satisfied employees not only contribute to satisfied customers, in some instances, satisfied employees cause satisfied customers.

Future Skills and their Impact

Future Skills and their Impact

World is evolving around us with technological developments. Machines and technology are an undeniable part of our world and will continue to be for the near and far future. In this context, it is important to see and understand how humans benefit from these developments and how we can develop ourselves to remain grounded, resourceful and capable within these changing environments.

The Institute For The Future (IFTF) (2011) explained what skills will be needed to be successful in the 21st century. A range of diverse answers was found, those were further narrowed down to the following ten competencies or areas of development. These are the future skills humans can embrace to equip themselves for the undeniable change that we are constantly living in. Similarly, Ehlers created The Future Skills Report (2019). The time difference between these two reports enables us to draw critical conclusions not only on how accurate the predictions were but also how substantial the constant flux and change we are living in is.

By developing these ten skills, you will not only grow as an individual but chances are that you will remain successful in our wonderfully interesting world.
1. Sensemaking

Sensemaking is defined as “the ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed” (IFTF, 2011 p. 8). Sensemaking skills are skills that help us create unique insights critical for decision making. These innate human capabilities cannot yet be replicated by machines. With regards to future skills in general, we as humans need to identify what makes us unique and work on those abilities as well as embrace them in our work and personal lives.The future driver connected to this future skill is smart machines and systems.

2. Social intelligence

Social intelligence is defined as the “ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way to sense and stimulate reaction and desired interaction” (IFTF, 2011  p. 8). The experience of emotions, how we feel them and how they interact with our physical state and behaviour is just as complex as critical thinking.When someone is socially intelligent they are not only aware of their own emotional state but also that of others. This relates to emotional intelligence. Socially intelligent employees are aware of the emotions of the people around them and can change their demeanour, words and tone as well as gestures accordingly and accurately. Our social IQ has developed over millennia as we have evolved as social beings. Being able to collaborate in meaningful ways is a big advantage for humans.The future drivers related to this future skill are globally connected world and the rise of machines and systems (IFTF, 2011).

3. Novel and adaptive thinking

Novel and adaptive thinking is the “proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is role- or rule-based” (IFTF, 2011 p. 9).Situational adaptability is the ability to respond to unexpected circumstances positively and productively. As our world is everchanging, the ability to be open to change is very important. Human characteristics such as creativity, ingenuity, adaptability and agility are important here.

4. Cross-cultural competency

Cross-cultural competency is the ability to operate in different cultural settings (IFTF, 2011 p. 9). This requires specific content and linguistic skills and also adaptability to changing circumstances and cultural sensitivity. It relates to the ability to sense and respond adequately to new contexts and environments.Diversity is seen as a driver of innovation in organisations. A combination of different skills, ages, working and thinking styles and disciplines make a group intelligent and innovative (IFTF, 2011). Progress depends not only on our individual IQ but also on our collective IQ.Diversity should be a core competency for organisations. Employees need to be able to identify and communicate points of connection such as shared goals and priorities or even values that surpass their differences and facilitates the building of relationships and enables them to work together efficiently.The future drivers involved with this future skill are globally connected world and superstructed organisations.

5. Computational thinking

Computational thinking is the “ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning” (IFTF, 2011 p. 10).The amount of data we have access to is increasing exponentially. Understanding data analysis and the programmes that are used to run these analyses will become more and more important. Entry-level and user-friendly coding language capability will be favoured. We need to keep in mind that we still need to be able to make decisions, even when there is a lack of actual data to support them. Take care not to become data-dependent.The future drivers involved with this future skill are new media ecology and computational world.

6. New media literacy

New media literacy is the “ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms and to leverage these media for persuasive communication” (IFTF, 2011 p. 10).New programmes exist to create presentations and present findings. Animations, Keynote and PowerPoint have become the norm in presenting.  Being able to create presentations that are immersive and visually stimulating presentations of information is a key skill. User-friendly tools and programmes for video creation as well as basic design skills such as what fonts and colours to use together will be greatly beneficial.We need to make sure that we are capable in these tools to communicate with our audiences engagingly.The future drivers involved in this future skill are new media literacy, superstructed organisations and extreme longevity.

7. Transdisciplinarity

Transdisciplinarity refers to “literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines. The problems we face today are multifaceted and complex and can often not be solved when approached from one specific discipline. We need to look at problems holistically and be aware of what we know, what is needed and where we can find the information as well as who will be best to collaborate with to solve the challenge or problem. The ideal worker in the future will be T-shaped. With a depth of knowledge in at least one field but a broad understanding of other areas as well.To be like this, we need a great sense of curiosity and drive to go beyond the traditional years of formal education. Extended lifespans will create the opportunity for multiple careers and exposure to multiple disciplines and industries. This relates to adaptability.The future drivers involved with this future skill is extreme longevity and computational world. However, it can also be new media literacy.

8. Design mindset

A design mindset is the “ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes” (IFTF, 2011 p.11). We can create our environments to be most conducive to desired outcomes. The more neuroscience develops, the better we are understanding the complexity of the human mind. Our physical environment shapes cognition. When we change our environment, our brains change and subsequently our behaviour changes as well.The future drivers associated with this future skill are superstructed organisations and computational world.

9. Cognitive load management/ Psychological space

Cognitive management is the “ability to discriminate and filter information for importance and to understand how to maximise cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques” (IFTF, 2011 p. 12).Information is coming at us from various streams and various devices in various formats. We need to be able to discern the important information from that which is not. This also relates to the concept of psychological space, what we spend our thoughts on and the importance of focus. The future drivers involved in this are computational world, superstructed organisations and new media ecology.

10. Virtual collaboration

Virtual collaboration is “the ability to work productively, drive engagement,  and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team” (IFTF, 2011 p.12)).Technology enables us to work remotely and across vast geographical distances. To be a successful leader in the virtual environment, leaders need to develop strategies for engaging, motivating and inspiring their virtual teams often a dispersed group.Gamification or techniques borrowed from gaming are extremely effective in engaging virtual communities. Tools such as Yammer can be used. Yammer is like twitter for businesses and only people who are registered in the business’ profile on Yammer can communicate with each other.

Impacts

The future drivers and future skills mentioned above will have several implications for us in the future. It will have different implications for individuals, educational institutions, businesses and governments.  These will be briefly discussed here.

Individual Impacts

Individuals need to navigate our rapidly changing landscape the diversity of organisational forms and the various skill requirements. Individuals need to continually assess and reassess and adapt the skills they have and need.

They also need to find resources to get the skills they need. There are various free or affordable online sources. The individual that will succeed in the future will be an adaptable lifelong learner.

Educational institutions impacts

Educational institutions will need emphasize on the development of these future skills, especially critical thinking and insight analysis. They should integrate new media literacy into their curriculum. They also need to include experiential learning like programmes that emphasise the development of soft skills such as the ability to collaborate, learning work in groups, to read social cues and to respond adequately and accurately. Educational institutions need to broaden their scope from teens and young adults to people of all ages. It is also important for educational institutions to integrate interdisciplinary training that allows students to develop a wider range of skills in a wider range of subjects.

Businesses Impact

Businesses need to adapt their workforce planning and developing strategies to ensure alignment with the future skills discussed. They need to use technology to ensure their employees have the skills they need and to enable their employees to renew these skills. Businesses that will be successful in the future need to be focussed on agility. They need to collaborate with universities to enable lifelong learning outcomes. Sustainability of business goals is also important.

Government and policymakers impact

Governments need to take a leadership role and should make education a national priority. If it is not done, the citizens will not be prepared for a healthy and sustainable future.

References: Davies, A., Fidler, D., Gorbis, M., 2011. Future work. Institute For The Future. http://hdl.voced.edu.au/10707/194830.

Yap K, Tiang YL. Recommendations for health care educators on e-professionalism and student behavior on social networking sites. Medicolegal and Bioethics. 2014;4:25-36
https://doi.org/10.2147/MB.S60563

Measuring impact – designing growth

Measuring impact – designing growth

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, executive, expert or an educator, we’re all increasingly being asked to make decisions about our impact – and the impact of the companies and organizations we work or interact with. More and more companies and organizations are talking about impact and aspiring to create it. Yet, our shared approaches to systematically collecting impact data and making decisions based on it – are still inadequate or confusing.

From accountability to impact
The term impact has often been defined to refer to significant or lasting changes in people’s lives, brought about by a given action or series of actions. Since the early 1990s, the requirement of accountability has been ascendant. A more recent manifestation of this discussion has centered on impact, or demonstrating evidence of how much difference you’re making.

Metrics & alignment
Harvard Business School professors Ainoor Ebrahim and V. Kasturi Rangan argue in their article that it is not feasible, or even desirable, for all organizations to develop metrics at all levels of a results chain, from immediate outputs to long-term societal impacts. Their claim is that the more important challenge is one of alignment: designing metrics and measurement systems to support the achievement of well-defined mission objectives. According to them, impact is better measured at the higher, systemic level, leaving the individual organizations to do what they do best — focus on their more specific missions.

Two types of impact
There are however two different types of impact that we need to take into account: Program-level impact is the impact that individual services have on the people who directly participate in them. Community-level impact is the impact that many different partners, working in collaboration, have on a specific population (community, town, state. etc.) Individuals and organizations can only be held responsible for the performance of the programs and services that they manage.

Impact for learning
When it comes to learning, it is important to try to grasp the impact of your efforts on a program-level. Let’s say you organize a series of coaching sessions aimed for all the managers in your company. The usual way to follow up on this kind of initiative is to focus on the numbers: i.e. how many of all the managers have participated the coaching. Now, this is all well and fine, but instead of settling for the reach in numbers, we should also be able to get an idea of what changes after the coaching. Did the managers adapt newly acquired skills to practise? Can the team members or colleagues tell the difference? It is precisely these kinds of questions we need to address in order to gain insights on the depth of impact for our learning efforts.

Impact tools & frameworks
While this may sound like an overly complicated a task, there are tools and frameworks that can help you better understand and accomplish this.

With the help of technology we can collect data from end users more efficiently. We can then extract insights in ways that allow us to better serve our customers and achieve more impact.

Another possibility that can help in our impact efforts is systems practice. It is an approach that can help to gain clarity about your environment as a dynamic system. It also provides an approach to effectively learn and adapt your understanding of your system and the impact your trying to achieve.

Impact analysis frameworks have also evolved from assessment of immediate results to measuring longer term outcomes and impacts. While these include various different philosophies and approaches from expected return methods to theory of change and lean data, they are not mutually exclusive. In many cases it is good idea to figure out which approaches are most suitable to your project and then combine several of them accordingly.

Ultimately learning about impact is grounded in a simple activity: listening to open and unbiased feedback from our customers and end users. Rather than a separate project, impact is something to be continuously pursued. It is also a key to finding sustainable solutions and designing growth – be that on a business, community or individual level.

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