Empowering Employees: Four Critical Capabilities for a Solutioning Mindset
By Arijit Banerjee
Customer experience (CX) has emerged as the single most exciting opportunity for businesses in 2019 and beyond, with investments in CX offering the potential to double revenues in 36 months. To deliver exceptional customer experiences today, organizations need employees to practice empathy in understanding customer challenges, go the extra mile in delivering solutions to nagging customer problems, and develop a customer-centric solutioning mindset.
The good news is evolving business models allow employees at every level to contribute - by extending their influence to win customers. To create emotionally intelligent individuals who display a solutioning mindset, organizations are evolving their L&D programs to focus on employee development across four core areas:
Traditional approaches to employee development that focus narrowly on skill development is giving way to a more holistic approach of developing business savvy employees. A sound knowledge of - the market dynamics, the competitive landscape in which the business operates, and client imperatives that determine business success - are critical for employees to meet heightened customer expectations.
Consider Choice Hotels, a leading travel and leisure company that has been recognized by Forbes for its outstanding workplace culture. As part of its team development initiatives, the hotel organizes frequent talks by the heads of diverse business units and functions. Finance leaders, for instance, hold sessions on how they earn revenue, where it goes, how the excess cash is re-invested, etc. This stems from the management’s belief that if the team at large understands the business objectives and the growth areas, they can contribute better and drive competitive advantage. Such initiatives have helped drive brand loyalty, resulting in more stays for the hotel group.
The traditional approach of limiting strategic thinking to senior leaders has led to missed opportunities for businesses, something businesses can no longer afford today. By training employees at all levels of the organization to apply strategic thinking across different aspects of their work, enterprises are deploying a collaborative environment – one that encourages diverse thinking by blending aspects of sales, marketing, delivery and solutioning with the larger goals of the organization.
At Accenture, everyone from entry level employees to senior leaders goes through an extensive program to learn about the company’s corporate goals and priorities, and how these translate into respective IT initiatives. Regular meetings and discussions are held to orient people towards what is happening within the organization, the company’s performance, and key future plans. Creating such a culture of strategic thinking and alignment has led to time saving innovations by Accenture employees.
The future of work is all about creating a more agile yet collaborative organization. As employees grapple with the constantly evolving demands of the new work environment, an integrated view of customer experience, business processes and technology becomes critical.
Amazon is an example of a company that has successfully trained their technology specialists and engineers to apply technology to create unique customer experiences. Amazon employees undergo a two-day training at a call center just to understand what the customer goes through and be more sensitive to client requirements. This enables their technology and solution experts to think creatively as they generate ideas and visualize solutions keeping the customer in mind.
The most successful companies don’t recruit leaders, they grow their own. These organizations boast of L&D teams that proactively nurture employees who deliver excellence, influence product decisions, and establish their thought-leadership in every engagement - within as well as outside the organization.
Google’s success at transforming employees into leaders is visible from the number of former Googlers who rule the corporate world today. Marissa Mayer joined Google as a software engineer and then went on to become the CEO of Yahoo. Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg, Dropbox COO Dennis Woodside, Pinterest's Ben Silbermann, Twitter's Evan Williams, are a few others. From early times, Google’s characteristic flat corporate structure has been integrated into its human resources development programs – training programs that motivate workers to continually improve their performance and strive for excellence.
A recent research by Gartner reveals that 70% of employees have not mastered the skills they need for their jobs today, and 80% of employees do not have the skills needed for their current and future roles. Unsurprisingly, the focus is slowly shifting from jumping headlong into skills training to instilling the right mindset first. This means, in addition to training employees in domain skills, successful organizations are inculcating a solutioning mindset in order to stay ahead of the customer experience game.