During our recent panel discussion with Forrester and ServiceNow on next-generation digital support experiences, it didn’t take long for a familiar question to be posed.
Is there a link between happy employees and an organization’s financial performance?
It’s a common topic by now, discussed in boardrooms throughout the world while they decide on how far to go with incentives and support initiatives.
Fortunately, the answer is also widely accepted as being yes. The panel on our broadcast reaffirmed this, with Charles Betz, Principal Analyst at Forrester, and Bruce Randall, Director of Product Marketing ITSM at ServiceNow, both telling us it was a key concern.
However, while it turns out that the answer to this question hasn’t changed, the ways businesses can deliver this happiness has—particularly in terms of the employee experience of knowledge workers and wider software users.
With the global shift to remote working, these employees are increasingly at risk of feeling isolated, with reduced access to the support structures they’ve come to rely on. But even without this change, what users actually want from software all too often isn’t what they get.
By focusing on improving this employee experience and channeling this to deliver the support that software users need, it’s possible to mitigate the risks and realize the full potential of your people.
What software users want from support
According to Charles, what makes today’s knowledge workers happiest and most engaged at work isn’t praise and rewards. Instead, it can be broken down into two task-related drivers.
The first insight he offers is that what today’s employees care about is not necessarily recognition, pay for performance, free pizza, foosball and climbing walls, but getting things done.
Secondly, but just as importantly, he cites the ability to self-regulate our attention and stay focused on the work we believe matters most. It’s essential they establish a sense of flow.
In short, anything that gets in the way of the tasks they need to complete or their autonomy impacts their experience and performance. And when you think of the demands of knowledge work, and what currently happens when things go awry, it’s not hard to see why.
Through wait times and removing control, traditional agent-led support experiences risk leaving employees unhappy, unproductive and unmotivated. Instead of helping them to maintain a state of flow, where performance, productivity and motivation are all at their optimum, it puts up a dam while the fix occurs.
Technology issues and waiting for services were critical challenges long before widespread homeworking, but this shift means the impact of issues on ability and autonomy has only been amplified. Software support should aim to limit this in order to provide positive employee experiences.
Yet, much like the question at the start of this post, trying to address the challenge is nothing new. Among other solutions, self-service support portals and instant messaging have promised progress, only to fall into the same problems of breaking flow, creating costs and taking time.
How organizations can offer a better support experience
The key for the next-generation support experience is to be intelligent and accessible in application, right when and where a user needs it—meaning they don’t have to search for, wait for or even think about support.
As discussed in our panel on creating a new end state for digital support experiences, this is something that a combination of Enterprise Service Management (ESM) and a support experience layer, such as our Adopt platform, can enable.
But while a joined-up solution comprising ESM and digital adoption best practice should be the goal for enterprises seeking certainty, there is an immediate step you can take to improve the employee experience.
It comes down to being aware of context switches, when users have to jump between different windows or apps, and doing what you can to limit them. For example, having a centralized support portal instead of several, or always relying on agents, can be a great start—even if it has to be in a separate window initially.
Accessing a solution like this will still interrupt your users’ focus, but the ability to self-serve in a consistent place means it may not cut the flow off altogether. And while not as effective as on-demand support delivered in application, it also maintains that all-important autonomy.
In return for a better experience, employees will repay their organization in many ways. Backed by research from Forrester, Yale and the Journal of Applied Psychology, Charles lists staff engagement, retention and productivity as outcomes that set business up for long-term success against MTTR, CSAT and NPS metrics.
And the short-term benefits couldn’t be clearer. The more that we empower people to be able to take action and effectively leverage the resources made available to them, the better organizations will be able to perform in this challenging new environment.
For more on how you can deliver the ultimate support experience, watch our session with Forrester and ServiceNow, now available on demand.