Insights|Employee Playgrounds are the Future of Customer-Centric Companies

Employee Playgrounds are the Future of Customer-Centric Companies

At this year’s Sitel Summit, serial tech entrepreneur and in-demand public speaker Claire Haidar outlined what she believes is the optimum solution for organizations looking to get closer to their customers – turn your workplaces into playgrounds.

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Employee Development
by Sitel staff June 27, 2018 - 3 MIN READ

Organizations serious about transformation must create work spaces that unlock and encourage the development of their employees’ most creative, rational and emotional capabilities.

At this year’s Sitel Summit, serial tech entrepreneur and in-demand public speaker Claire Haidar outlined what she believes is the optimum solution for organizations looking to get closer to their customers – turn your workplaces into playgrounds.

Why a chaotic approach is the only approach to organizing the workplace of the future?

Haidar, who came to prominence following a TED Talk on the future of work and who currently brings about lasting organizational change as CEO of WNDYR, doesn’t advocate fitting a Jungle Jim next to the watercooler. Nor is she for replacing elevators with slides or a fireman’s pole.

However, during her keynote – Chaos Theory: A Future-of-Work View – she does insist that any company serious about a transformational journey should consider the concept of a playground and how it enables its employees to achieve.

“[A playground] is an interesting environment, it is highly structured and unstructured at the same time,” she explains. “It has a perimeter and fixed objects. Yet no one directs the behavior of those that use it.”

In other words, a playground gives those who use it autonomy and freedom, but within a recognizable structure.

“[Employees] choose where they want to go and then change their mind,” Haidar continues. “It’s constructive yet creates stimulation and freedom of expression. That’s why it needs to be the future model for ultimate customer satisfaction.”

Why disruption leads to silos, not transformation?

The reason for building playgrounds is to counteract disruption. Not disruption caused when companies like AirBnB move into the hospitality sector, but the internal disruption that is happening inside companies and is threatening to derail their future plans.

“Digital disruption stems and starts because of employee frustration,” Haidar believes. “They start trying to find better ways of doing their actual work. They start looking for and finding better tools for executing their daily work. That is digital disruption. It’s not transformation.”

And that’s because it doesn’t improve the overall organization, instead it makes a department even more fragmented and siloed – optimized for itself, only.

Only customer-centric companies will survive

It’s impossible to transform while taking an inward-looking view. Therefore, according to Haidar, companies wanting to guarantee they thrive in decades to come need to overhaul their mindset. This means looking to transform every element of the organization – leadership; processes and systems; and individuals – in order to be where the customer is.

“If you as an organization can’t at any one time say, ‘pull up all the information on any one client,’ if you can’t do that, if you don’t have a central repository for data that flows around the customer, you are not a customer-centric organization – bottom line,” she warns.

Aligning your employees with a very new type of customer.

As millennials becomes the most important generation from an economic and wealth creation standpoint, the rules of customer engagement and satisfaction are being re-written.

“A lot of us aren’t familiar with the new world yet because we don’t necessarily engage with Google Home assistant or Alexa,” she says. “We don’t necessarily use Siri on our phones. We might not be using robotics in our house, yet. But it is how millennials and the generation below them are living. If that is the consumer experience that is driving a new generation of customer, how do we get to meet them?”

How do we enhance a person’s most human skills?

With so much digitalization and automation, the human touch is going to be crucial in those moments of truth, but organizations need to find the right ways of unlocking the right qualities in their workforce. When we consider what separates people from even the most advanced AI-driven machines, there are two key areas – creativity and critical thinking.

Encouraging a person’s creativity boosts their adaptability, visual thinking, collaborative and communication skills as well as their ability to pass on knowledge in a way others will understand.

Likewise, critical thinking is the foundation on which empathy, adaptive listening, ethical conduct and the ability to take risks are built.

Thinking about employees to focus on the customer.

“We need to get to a place where we are thinking about our employee experience first and tying that back to the customer experience,” Haidar says. “And when we can do that, when we can make change happen at a leadership level, at a system and process level and at an individual level, that’s when we bring the customer to the heart of what we are doing. And that’s when we move forward.”

To learn more about this genuinely transformational approach to delivering customer experience (CX), watch the keynote [filename] in full below. 

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