Monday, April 12, 2010

How to Get More BANG for Your Engagement Bucks

Recently, I was asked a really good question after a webinar I conducted on HR Metrics that Matter. Here is the question:
Do you have any suggestions on how to measure engagement? Our company does an annual associate opinion survey, but we are looking for cost effective ways to do more frequent pulse checks on engagement levels. We would like to focus on certain departments that really drive our customer service scores.
What a great question. I have a ton of suggestions, but will try to keep this as brief as possible.

We have found that is makes more sense to look at engagement data more frequently. Instead of doing one huge survey per year, consider shortening that survey and adding several pulse check surveys on perhaps a quarterly basis. This added frequency will allow you to analyze changes in engagement and act on those issues rather than waiting until you have dissatisfied customers.

To answer the question above on HOW to get that accomplished, I would say there are several ways. If you have the talent in house to design or have access to valid questions and analyze the data, then you can use an online survey tool to deliver and analyze the surveys. Tools like SurveyMonkey are quite popular. (See previous post on 13 Employee survey must haves)

If you do not have that expertise inside the company then I would suggest a third party survey company. The main advantage to this option is the objectivity a third party brings. Employees tend to be more forthright when third parties are involved. Also, third parties specialize in this research, so the value of understanding engagement is worth the extra expense in my opinion. (I do have a strong bias here, in the name of full disclosure)

The last part of the above question is key for me, wanting to focus on the departments that drive the customer services scores. If you have customer data, it is very easy to analyze that data with employee data to see what drives customer satisfaction as it relates to employee behaviors and satisfaction. These studies are great because you can determine statistically what you need to focus on to move the service score. (Happy employees equal happy customers)

A very cost effective way to get excellent customer data is to ask your customer-facing employees. There is research that states that the data from employees that are on the front lines with customers is highly correlated to actual customer data.

Our company has heard many times, "What do I do with all this engagement data?" "I am not sure how to take action on these results." To really get to data that is actionable you really need to be able to slice and dice your data to get to engagement drivers and/or root causes of dissatisfaction. So, which ever method you use to get your data, it is most important to actually DO something with it.

How have you measured engagement? What works in your company?


Sean Conrad said...

They key is your final point... the trick is to actually DO something with it.

Before you invest time and resources in a survey like this the organization needs to decide if they have the guts to actually make changes based on the results. It would be a real waste to get great information like this and then not act on it, but I suspect that is the case more often than not.

Mike Klein said...

Hi Cathy...

Reading your piece here gives me the feeling of being in a runaway truck desperately heading towards one of those safety ramps on the Interstate...

There is no question that data can be valuable in understanding the engagement picture (particularly the different types, intensities and underlying expectations in the mix).

But the drive for data can actually send the whole system out of whack, and closed-ended, linear surveys tend to produce generic and misleading pictures.

Far better would be small-sample research focusing on open-ended questions connecting "engagement" concerns with actual "business" concerns.

Cut across hierarchical strata, involve different geographies, and ensure that different longevity and contract types are covered. But there are few less useful things to do than launch in with a quantitative sheep-dip survey that throws the organization further off balance.

Best from Brussels,

Mike Klein

Unknown said...

Sean thanks so much for your feedback and for's to taking action on survey data!

Mike, thanks for posting your comment and reading my blog. I whole heartily agree that survey design is key, we don't believe in 12 question style surveys at all, we are more about open ended questions and questions that are linked to the business and the strategy execution. Obviously there are some engagement type question that need to asked and those are the ones we think can be pulse check type of questions.

We do advocate talking to employees as I mentioned in the post regarding front line employees.

I agree data can tell any story you want it to, that is why it is important to get a full data picture, what employees are saying what customers are saying and what profits/revenues are doing

I believe we are on the same page just saying it differently

Thanks Mike and Sean!

Unknown said...

Don't say its just talent or its a matter of luck because in business world actions speaks louder than luck and talent. To get and gain something you must really work hard on it. Great service will bring great outcome. A great well performed business modeling is needed to gain a big bang.

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Unknown said...

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