Onboarding Employees for Great Experiences

onboarding employees wellIt’s generally accepted that onboarding employees is a critical first step in their employee experience. It’s also good for the organization.

As a manager, would you like a fully engaged employee or a disengaged employee? How about as a customer?

Engaged employees are more productive, efficient and happier. They have an important role to play in delivering great customer experiences, regardless of where they are in your organization.

Engaging your employees fully has to start at the beginning. This means supporting an employee onboarding vision that supports your customer experience.

There is often confusion between orientation and onboarding. Orientation is necessary. It’s important to show a new employee where to find the restroom and make sure all the new hire paperwork is signed. Onboarding is a longer-term effort to help employees feel capable, confident and empowered in their new roles.

Most employees today, most notably more than 80% of executives in some studies, report feeling disappointed in their onboarding experiences. Many new hires are given just enough information to start, but not enough in the first six to eighteen months to help them excel and grow.

Onboarding new employees isn’t just a training plan. It’s a vital part of your experience ecosystem.

Have you evaluated how your employee onboarding connects with the customer experience you want to deliver? Ask these questions to find out.

  1. Where is the customer experience mission?

It’s difficult to aspire to success if it hasn’t been well defined. Each person in your organization needs to understand how their individual role connects to the bigger vision of the customer experience.

Skipping this important step forces each person to make judgment calls about how their work directly impacts the customer. For example, if the customer experience mission is to deliver fast service to help customers do their jobs better, then speed is a clear priority. This means ensuring fast responses and helping other teammates deliver on that promise as necessary.

If onboarding focuses on process and procedures over purpose, employees will quickly disconnect from feeling connected to the customer.

  1. Is the customer’s voice included in onboarding?

So many of us now work in an organization and never, I repeat, NEVER, interact with an actual customer. Sure, we see reports and we understand product specs and we might even review some surveys. But we don’t actually interact.

Including the customer’s voice is a powerful way to help each employee see the human we’re serving. This can be done in a variety of ways. Invite your new hires to observe in the contact center for a few hours. Share a video testimonial or complaint. If you have customer advisory boards or ethnographic research going on, include new hires to really witness what customers are saying and feeling.

Let your employees get to know the customer in a one-to-one way.

  1. Are we asking new employees for ideas and feedback?

A customer-centric culture means a culture that values innovation and ideas. Newer employees often see the organization in a new way, and ask questions that simply haven’t been asked.

Onboarding should include ways for employees to provide feedback along the way. And feedback about the customer experience is always welcome! Is there a safe, central way to provide this feedback? Employees shouldn’t feel like their negative feedback will be reason for punishment.

Encourage employees to provide new ideas for solutions and ask questions about potential challenges for employees AND customers.

Onboarding employees can be so much more than just “Here’s the manual. Good luck!” The first milestones of 90 days, six months and beyond can help create an empowered and innovative part of the team. These engaged employees are the ones who can make a real difference to your customers. Ask the questions that matter to get the answers that make magic for you and your customers.