In business we tend to apply the Golden Rule to our customers, treating them the same way we want to be treated, but too often we fail to apply the same principle to our employees. Why is that?
For starters, it makes sense that we’re fixated on Customer Experience. Customers are the lifeblood of every business, and serving them well ensures loyalty and protects your brand. That’s why we obsess over how we deliver and support our products and services, streamlining and fine-tuning the overall experience so that it becomes frictionless and nearly invisible.
Over the last two decades, we have witnessed an explosion in innovative approaches to creating positive customer experiences. I’m thinking of how simple and intuitive Uber has made it to hail a ride and Amazon’s oh-so-easy one-click checkout button. These experiences are memorable because they reduce the friction in how users interact with otherwise complex processes.
Employee Experience, on the other hand, is lagging when it comes to system design, accessibility and ease-of-use. Most of the systems that employees of large enterprises use to access and update customer information requires them to jump between multiple systems to get a complete picture of what is going on with a customer. Even with the advent of a modern, well-integrated CRM system, employees have to navigate numerous menus, modules, forms and fields. What we may have thought was a great answer to a positive employee-facing experience turns out to be pretty challenging for most people.
Improving the Employee Experience With a Digital Assistant
It is probably fair to assume all employees like to get things done with as little unnecessary effort as possible. Who doesn’t want things to be easy? No one wants to click seven times if they can accomplish the same thing in two or three clicks or just by speaking. I wouldn’t park two blocks away from my office if I know there is parking available right next to the building.
To automate cumbersome, manual-based processes, we have developed quicker and more modern ways to accomplish the same business tasks. That’s why paper office memos, physical folders, internal snail mail and the like have all essentially disappeared as a means of internal communication. We now have email, chat and collaboration tools like Teams and Slack. Simply put, we have much easier ways to get things done that were – not so many years ago – much more difficult.
The Rapid Growth of Smart Speakers and Digital Assistants
We should not underestimate the explosion of smart speakers and digital assistants in recent years and how these technologies fit into the overall personal productivity picture. If you haven’t seen the numbers on the growth rate of these technologies, you might want to take a few minutes to look. A quick glance at some recent articles we’ve read, and you’ll see stats like this:
- “Voice assistants in use to triple to 8 billion by 2023.” – Juniper Research
- “25% of digital workers will use virtual employee assistants by 2021.” – Gartner
- “By 2021, approximately 1.8 billion people will be taking advantage of voice search technology.” – Valuewalk.com
- “100 million smartphones to have dedicated Google Assistant button in 2019.” – Voicebot.ai
If you think these numbers are staggering, you’d be right. Smart speaker adoption is growing at a faster pace than any technology in history, including the computer, cell phones and even the internet itself. Why is this? Because it’s in our homes. We’re using them to order household goods, to get another bag of dog food, to catch a ride downtown, etc. What we once might’ve thought of as unlikely is now a reality.
Another driver of the widespread adoption of smart speakers and digital assistants is their ease of use. Stay-at-home moms and dads, kids and even grandparents are now becoming accustomed to conversing with a smart speaker and seeing something happen. No keyboard. No monitor. Just a voice. And, just like the iPhone and iPad were birthed as consumer devices which then spilled over into the workplace, smart speakers and personal digital assistants will become increasingly more prevalent in the business world in the form of enterprise digital assistants.
Modernizing Your Organization To Retain the Best Talent
Employees are the heartbeat of any organization. Should we still expect them to suck it up and just do things the way they have always been done? If so, we should be prepared to lose out on the best and brightest to competing organizations who are already implementing more modern technologies.
Some employees, particularly those under 30, are already entering the workforce with a natural comfort level for interacting with these devices and technologies because of their experience at home, in college or perhaps even with previous employers. They talk and things happen, and they expect the same thing at their workplace.
Voice technology, powered by AI, is absolutely here, and it’s the next evolution of how people work. The well-informed companies who want to compete in this new world of computing know this and are already taking steps to make it a reality at their organization.
Applying the Golden Rule to employees with the same level of tenacity as we do with customers is more important than ever in attracting and retaining talent as smart speakers and enterprise digital assistants become more commonplace in the business world.