Using Employee Experience to Improve CX [Podcast]

Last updated: June 20, 2023 | 10 min read
Employee Experience

The Situation

GhostDraft’s CEO, Wayne Toms, recently joined forces with COVER Magazine’s Tony Van Niekerk for a podcast that focused on the significance of employee experience. As a publication that has grown to encompass 26,000 professionals in financial service fields such as insurance, investments, financial planning, and risk management, COVER Magazine is at the forefront of current news regarding digital developments. With Tony’s 28-year history in developing products and understanding distribution strategies within the industry, this collaboration discussed the importance of employee experience and how it relates to a better customer experience in the insurance industry.

Digital Transformation session with Wayne Toms, CEO of GhostDraft, focusing on ‘How Employee Experience Impacts Customer Experience’ and host Tony Van Eikerk, COVER Magazine.

Tony Van Niekerk: Morning. This is Tony from Cover Magazine. I’m speaking to the client Communication and document automation specialist, um, Wayne Tom’s at Ghost Draft. Wayne, thank you very much for talking to me.

Wayne Toms: Yeah. Hey, Tony. Good to talk to you again.

Tony Van Niekerk: Great. We, we are talking about an interesting thing. In the discussions that I had with you I didn’t foresee that we would be talking about employee experience, but, from reading some of your material and the white paper that you sent us, I think it reads quite well that employee experience is a very important part of customer communication. So maybe you can tell us why you see employee experience as important.

Wayne Toms: Yeah, sure. Well, the importance of customer experience has been acknowledged for some time, but I think there’s a growing realization in customer service. Industries and especially knowledge-intensive ones like insurance are our most important long-term differentiator are actually on the payroll.  It’s our people. Yet, many insurance companies are finding it very difficult to find and keep and use the best people right now. It’s from this trend that the concept of employee value proposition has emerged not just in insurance, but in many industries around the world. This idea of creating motivation for people to stay in the organization and to deliver the best work.

The Importance of Employee Experience

And why is this important? Well, firstly, this is a consequence of the increasing shortage of skills, people who have experience and expertise in the insurance industry and its processes. And we know very well that this has been experienced quite acutely in South Africa, but in our interactions with big American insurance companies, we find that they’re experiencing such a shortage as well currently.

Secondly, the insurance industry has been quite slow to grow a new generation of industry experts. You know, traditionally insurance has not been seen as a front runner in appealing to new job market entrance. And while, while this is changing, insurers actually have to learn now how to enhance their value proposition to the people that they do find and to the skills that they do find. We also know that the profile of new recruits in the job market has changed.

Generation Z and millennials are much less likely to look for a job or life as people in the past may have done. They prefer an employer who can offer them something of value, and it goes beyond just salary and the ability to be effective in their work to make a difference and to be stimulated by the work that they do. Of course, they’re more likely to want a hybrid work-from-home arrangement, which is very topical right now. And these people are often very fluent in working online and with technology and many companies are still catching up on their ability to meet this value proposition. So in this context, we have the concept of employee experience.

What Really is the ‘Employee Experience’?

Employee experience has a role to play in this. Employee experience is everything an employee encounters at a company from their initial job search to the last day of work at that company and beyond. And as a major part of the daily work environment, those employees are likely to encounter. Technology tools and systems have a big role to play.

Tony Van Niekerk: Yeah, I mean certainly most of these things that you mentioned here and the recent broker survey that we did came out as important factors as well, and this, these were brokers sitting in their own businesses talking about the industry as a whole.

And they also mentioned that the industry’s aging; people are retiring, the industry hasn’t been made attractive enough to attract new young people, et cetera. So, it’s definitely on everybody’s agenda to do something about it. But now, based on what you guys talk about, one can take customer experience and link it to employee experience. How do you do that?

Utilizing Employee Experience for Superior Customer Experience

Wayne Toms: Yeah, it’s a good question. We all know the refrain “happy staff means happy customers”, and I think this has become ever more relevant in insurance with the rise of customer experience as an important factor in how insurance customers select their insurance carriers, brokers, and products.

In fact, research shows that one out of every eight customers will actually leave their provider if they’re not satisfied with the communications experience that they get. And this is particularly true for the young, the more affluent, and the technologically sophisticated customers. This means that they want an efficient and smooth journey in their interaction with the insurer.

And this is not going to happen by accident, by the way. We need to design how those interactions will occur. And an insurer’s staff is key in building these interaction points with customers and then handling the ad hoc communications as they arise.

Tony Van Niekerk: So if I understand it correctly, it’s almost like designing your customer experience with your employee experience in mind at the same time, right?

Wayne Toms: Exactly.

Leveraging Technology to Improve Customer Experience

Tony Van Niekerk: So, how do you then leverage tech? Why is tech important as part of the value proposition, because obviously, GhostDraft is a large tech company.

Wayne Toms: Well there’s a recent piece of research by Aspire, which is a global communications technology analyst company, which shows that the number one source of job frustration that they identified in their survey of employees is overwhelmingly outdated software tools to enable their jobs. This is a surprising stat if you think about it, but perhaps it makes sense if we consider the factors which drive an employee’s sense of value at work. This employee value proposition we’re talking about, if I was to put it simply, what is it that makes employees happy in their work environment? Well, they need to have the following.

Four Factors Contributing to a Positive Employee Experience

Firstly, they need to have a high work interest factor. They need to be interested in the work that they do and they need to be able to scratch that itch, if I can put it that way.

Secondly, they need to have knowledge and capabilities for the work that they do. They need to have a sense that they do have what they need to get the work done.

Thirdly, they need a sense of reward. They need to know that the hard work they have done has indeed been effective and returned some value.

And fourthly, employees want a sense of being able to collaborate with their coworkers seamlessly and effectively. Now, of course, many non-technology measures have a profound impact on these factors. But at the same time, all of these factors do have a direct relationship to the technology which employees use on a daily basis.

Tony Van Niekerk: I mean, I’ve never thought about it this way, but it’s almost like if you look at an artisan and how important their tools are for them. They look after their tools, talk about what tools they’ve got, et cetera, and simply put the tech in software is now our employees’ tools in this environment. So, how do you then take this technology, especially customer communications technology, to help to provide an engaging employee experience?

Wayne Toms: As organizations increasingly rely on empowered business teams to use their discretion in managing customer communication, the tech needs to meet certain requirements.

Accessibility of Tech for Business Users

Firstly, the tech needs to give business users and customer-facing staff the tools that they need to compose, change, distribute, and track the communications they have with customers while they’re working remotely, by the way. As we’ve seen, this is an important factor in improving both customer experience and employee satisfaction. So, the tech needs to be accessible to these business uses. The tools need to be easy to access, maybe as simple as on their browsers themselves. Sometimes they need to be usable in a plain language that we understand, not highly technical, and these tools need to provide the users with access to all the data they need to interact with the customer with a single button press.

Automating Business Activities

Secondly, the technology must automate simple business activities, which typically require little or no intense user judgment to be applied. But, they often end up swamping many employees in their business day and it makes for less attractive job satisfaction. For example, if you’re inserting a new claims rule into a set of policy documents, it is actually a relatively simple and mundane activity, but because it has to be done right, it’s generally a painstaking and time-consuming process. In theory, this process could be automated, freeing up the employee to do more enjoyable work.

Innovating Technology

Thirdly, the turbulence of the last couple of years has shown us that tech solutions need to be flexible so that organizations can quickly adapt to a rapidly evolving market. The tech itself should be easy to refine and change and innovate. Customers’ needs vary. Business opportunities change quickly, and the employees themselves need to be able to make the changes to those customer interaction patterns. And not just with individual customers, but even with groups of customers, for example, customers for a new line of business, in a way that doesn’t take many weeks or months to process a simple change to those offerings. And at the same time though, the system does need to be able to protect core business logic, especially since there are strict compliance and actuarial requirements, which must be made.

Increasing Agility Through Technology

The fourth tech requirement is that since manual processes are slow and often prone to creating confusion and errors, customer communications technology should incorporate input from all the stakeholders that are required to make a decision in an agile way. At the same time leveraging automation to standardize and expedite transactions. If we do this right, this will save time, enabling employees to efficiently address the demands on their time while still maximizing the quality of that customer touchpoint.

And lastly, I think the tech needs to enable a direct line between the employees and the customers to manage these interactions. This not only improves the customer’s experience but also enables the employee to get an immediate sense that they’ve been able to meet the customer’s requirements and enjoy the satisfaction that comes with that.

Tony Van Eikerk: So if we now look at this, it’s not easy for anybody to get to all of that. It’s probably a good design process. What happens if the organization can’t retain these employees? What is the fallout? I mean, we know the person leaves the skill, but what is the overall fallout?

How Employee Retention Affects Customer Experience

Wayne Toms: Well, that’s a very good question. This is a critical issue that many organizations are having to deal with. What happens when those employees familiar with the processes and the technologies that have governed our customer communications in the past finally decide to move elsewhere?

Well, if there’s no unified system or framework that can manage those communications and perpetuate our ways of working, then the loss of that experience and that institutional knowledge will eventually cascade through to customer satisfaction levels. And in some cases, the people leaving the organization may be the very ones who develop these outdated systems in the first place. Or, they may be the only ones with any real understanding of the customer journey in the first place. And once we lose this institutional knowledge, it’s going to take time and expense for the new employees to learn the old processes or to develop new ones. In the interim, both employee experience and customer experience worsen as users try to make sense of this piecemeal solution and the customer receives the consequence of this disjointed messaging.

Tony Van Eikerk: So it’s almost like a bit of a misunderstanding if you think the existing people shouldn’t be there when you change the systems. Because they are the ones that actually know the system. They should be part of that process of adapting them. Is that what you’re saying?

Wayne Toms: Yes. And we can use tech to help to protect ourselves against the most extreme consequences that that could occur.

How GhostDraft Impacts Employee and Customer Experience

Tony Van Eikerk: Now as GhostDraft, how do you address these points you mentioned?

Wayne Toms: Well, our customer communications product Suite Ghost Drive 360 is designed to handle most, if not all, of the communication use cases in the insurance space. There’s a collection of tools which are designed to automate each step of an insurance carrier’s communication lifecycle from inception all the way through to delivery.

We’ve got particularly strong forms creation and processing capabilities, which are used to design and generate key customer communications documents in insurance, like policies, renewals, quotes, claims, etc. GhostDraft has been built from the ground up, and we regard this as a key differentiator to be a set of tools that can be directly used by business users. Key insurance documents can be built using natural language and plain language. There are no programming skills required. There are business user-friendly, drag-and-drop capabilities for adding business rules, which as you know, are critical to get right in the policy documents. Once those key insurance documents have been built, the IT team can map the data from multiple core systems to a document domain model instead of to each document itself. All of this is also done with simple drag-and-drop tools.

GhostDraft is one of the key customer communications management vendors that is built-in specifications module. This allows business analysts in the insurer or document developers in agile teams to capture the requirements of those documents, set up and manage approvals by other business users and stakeholders, and automate the management of those document templates based on parameters.

Why GhostDraft?

GhostDraft has a flexible workflow suite that allows insurance companies and their staff to design how the interactions with customers are going to work. Whether it’s to gather information from those customers as part of a sales process or to make business rule-based decisions, such as underwriting decisions, for example, and prepare and deliver the appropriate communications back to the customers. And the workflow suite is a drag-and-drop solution that business uses themselves. Again, business users can use it to quickly model how those interactions should occur, again in natural language, and it has the added benefit that these workflows can then be used to protect key business interaction process (Ip) in the eventuality that key staff members were to leave. Thus, the customer interaction process has been codified in a way and easy-to-understand language for the next generation of business users to support and refine and pick up.



In Conclusion

Tony Van Eikerk: So basically in summary, you’re saying that experience cannot happen without employee experience. How would you summarize that?

Wayne Toms: That’s exactly right. In addition to retaining employees, organizations also need to look for ways to empower and enable those employees so that they have a sustainable employee value proposition, which in turn can cascade through to customer experience and improved customer experience. And tech has a significant role to play in this.

Tony Van Eikerk: Brilliant, brilliant. I mean it’s interesting for me, thank you very much for that discussion. It’s an angle of the tech and the CX or UX that we haven’t thought about before. So, thank you very much for bringing that in. I look forward to your discussion at the TechFest when you will be unpacking a bit more about document automation and how that leads to speed to market, which is also an interesting angle.

Wayne Toms: Awesome. Thanks Tony. Good to talk to you again.

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