It is no secret that in order to achieve long-term success, businesses in both the B2C and B2B markets need to foster strong relationships with their customers — which is why there’s an upturn in enterprises taking customer experience orchestration seriously.
But while brands intensify their focus on the customer experience, one notable company dimension often gets overlooked, and that’s the relationship between the business and its employees.
Ironically, by ignoring the employee experience (EX), brands indirectly damage the customer experience. Because when backend systems like intranets and employee support ticketing systems aren’t engaging, it’s the end user who suffers most. In fact, employee relations is extremely crucial to achieving primary business objectives.
Plus, with initiatives like GlassDoor amplifying the voice of the employee, brands now feel even more pressure to make their employees feel valued and happy with their work life. Thus, we’re seeing the emergence of a new acronym to stand alongside B2C and B2B.
If a company wants to improve their B2B strategy, they’ll often research ways to engage with other companies. With B2E, the target is not companies, but their own employees.
A B2E strategy covers everything a business can do to attract, recruit, onboard, train, empower and retain employees. But one aspect of B2E strategy in particular deserves special attention due to its overarching impact on the daily life of the employee: the digital workplace.
At the moment, most companies depend on intranet solutions and perhaps a combination of tools like Slack, Google Calendar and Skype to patch the entire employee experience together. But the problem is, those intranets are often out-of-the-box platforms that aren’t tailored to each business, let alone each employee. It’s no wonder that, according to a recent Gardner study, around 40 percent of portal initiatives fail to achieve their targeted ROI. In addition, 10-to-15% of portal initiatives are scrapped altogether.
The importance of delivering an efficient and user-friendly system for internal employee use frequently gets ignored in companies of all sizes. While customers have the choice to move away from a company's site if they don't like the user interface, that company's employees are stuck with a system that fails to meet their needs and those of the employers. These inefficiencies can lead to a poor employee experience (EX) as they try to use a system that gives a bad user experience (UX).
Elizabeth Rosenzweig, author of Successful User Experience: Strategies and Roadmaps, wrote that "user experience is arguably even more strategically important inside the enterprise than out.”
"Consider the digital tools people use in your company every day to track time and expenses, check their email, manage travel, and conduct hundreds of other routine tasks,” she wrote. “These employees are trapped, forced to use your company’s software systems regardless of UX quality, and relegated to spending hours on the phone seeking help if they don’t understand it.”
At the moment, companies want to improve employee experience, but have no obvious pathway to so. Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends Survey, which collected the views of over 10,000 business leaders and HR managers in over 100 countries. The survey showed that nearly 80 percent considered the employee experience as either “important” or “very important”. However, only 22 percent of respondents rated their companies as “excellent” at building such an experience for their workers.
This is why more and more companies are moving towards B2E portals.
Most companies have an internal online system that lets employees handle the routine tasks Rosenzweig mentioned above. These “intranets” piggyback off the established online technology, while adding a layer of security to protect internal company data from prying eyes. While an intranet does help employees accomplish such tasks as finding company resources, manage time sheets, and share project data, the system often seeks to use a “one-size-fits-all” solution for employees with different needs.
A B2E portal on the other hand, goes several steps further, allowing employees to access communicate and collaborate with colleagues, access training services, travel services, industry news, stock quotes, eCommerce interfaces and even employee benefits like in-house discount codes. Plus, a B2E portal allows for more customization and personalization to better meet the needs of each individual employee.
According to Margaret Rouse of WhatIs.com, a B2E portal has three characteristics that differentiate it from a standard intranet:
"An intranet's focus is the organization; the B2E portal focus is the individual," she wrote. "The intention is to increase not only efficiency, but also employee satisfaction and a sense of community within the organization."
The aforementioned survey also cited several reasons for the disconnect between the value the executives placed on providing a quality EX and their actions in following through on those values. Some respondents said that they had not assigned an individual or team to develop such an experience for their employees, while others stated that they rarely engaged their employees to learn what they considered a “quality employee experience,” apart from an annual engagement survey.
This lack on involvement from employees in dictating their own work environment can cause skilled employees to disengage from a company culture that they view as distant and uncaring. Elizabeth Dukes, co-founder of iOffice, wrote a column for Inc. Magazine in 2017 about the importance of engaging employees in the creation of their own B2E portal.
“No one knows how to upgrade the employee experience better than your employees themselves,” Dukes wrote. “You don't make assumptions about what your customers want in your product or service, right? Then don't make assumptions about what your workforce wants or needs. Ask them what types of resources, technologies and spaces they believe are critical for success and then make sure they have them.”
A well-designed B2E portal that can personalize employee experiences can not only improve efficiency, but also increase employee satisfaction and provide a sense of community.
The most effective B2E strategies combine the best methods of both marketing leaders and human resources directors. Marketers can use their techniques to deliver messages and create user-friendly systems that will attract and retain top talent in much the same way that they bring in customers. At the same time, HR leaders can provide the content and tools employees need in the most useful and efficient ways available.
A B2E strategy, backed by a B2E portal, helps employees and employers to get the most out of their time, effort and talent. With that in mind, we feel B2E should be an acronym that’s high on the C-suite priority list.
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