Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Proving the link between customer satisfaction and employee engagement has become a reality for Volkswagen thanks to a new insights platform.
Volkswagen Group Australia (VGA) director of customer experience, Jason Bradshaw, told CMO the decision to rollout a new insights platform was part of ongoing efforts to drive a new customer experience agenda across its dealer network. An integral part of this was having a view of the employee experience, he said. That not only includes Volkswagen staff, but also employees across its 103 dealerships nationally.
“We were looking for a platform that could marry together the rich customer experience insights we need to run and guide our programs, with employee insights in a platform that is cohesive and that allows dealerships and sales staff to leverage these insights effectively,” he said.
Previously, Volkswagen measured customer satisfaction, providing dealers with a view into these insights via a digital dashboard. But there was no capability to interview or gather feedback from dealer team members, Bradshaw said. It also needed more flexibility around what insights dealers could see and how they use information to drive the right behaviours in their business.
Volkswagen opted for the Qualtrics platform, rolling it out in less than 60 days and going live on 2 January. The company is using two core modules within the Qualtrics offering: A customer experience module to manage and report on customer satisfaction, advocacy and close the loop on feedback; and an employee engagement module to solicit and report on staff engagement.
“At a dealership level, if they identify a customer problem, they’re able to deep dive into that problem and engage with team members in real time,” he explained. “Previously, it was a much more static environment.”
The Qualtrics platform is also accessible via desktop and mobile, making it easier than ever for staff to access the insights, Bradshaw said. “No one has an excuse for not knowing what customers are saying,” he said.
Through the CX platform, dealers see two things: How likely a customer is to recommend that dealer, as well as how satisfied they are as customers. This has been made possible by the decision to roll out the Net Promoter Score (NPS) program, Bradshaw said. Employee can also set up automated reports.
Bradshaw said the approach he’s taking to showcase insights to dealers is based on a “hierarchy of information” based on how that dealership is performing.
“We have spent time over the past year talking to dealers about not acting on 50 different themes, but acting on those that are being repeated with the most frequency, and fixing those in a sustainable way,” he said. “We’re now able to have detailed and meaningful conversations with the dealers about the difference between purely satisfying someone, and delivering an experience that matches the joy of our cars.
“And of course the customer comments are there too. Dealers are now engaging with my team and not just asking the transactional question, but how to understand why a customer might say they’re satisfied in their comments but still not be ready to recommend us. We’re having pointed conversations with dealers who are completely engaged around the nuances in services delivery in order to take it to the next step. That’s hard to do when information is buried or held in the vault at head office.”
One metric Bradshaw is using to gauge the success of the technology investment is usage.
“We now have a lot of transparency now about how dealers are actioning areas where customers have expressly requested a follow-up on their feedback,” he continued. “I can now see in real time how dealers are acting on that feedback, as well as the broader actions that come out of being able to see customer sentiment across two axes: Satisfaction and loyalty/advocacy.”
The next step for Bradshaw is to extend the use of the platform to test drive feedback.
“That data has always sat separately to the rest of our customer insights and was not visible to dealers,” he said. “A key action for us in this first quarter is to integrate that data with the Qualtrics platform, so dealers can understand what is potentially impacting them along the customer journey.
“There are a number of moments of truth for customers. I want to make sure we leverage the Qualtrics platform to highlight these to dealers so they can learn from the customer, and celebrate their successes, but also improve in areas they might be missing the mark.”
Later this year, the platform will also be used to support the launch of the ‘I am Volkswagen’ website, which is aimed at attracting, retaining and rewarding team members in the group as well as dealerships.
The importance of bringing CX and employee engagement together
Qualtrics managing director Asia-Pacific and Japan, Bill McMurray, said VGA was ahead of the pack in its decision to unite customer satisfaction, engagement and employee feedback.
“Most people are thinking about how to get customer satisfaction, or employee engagement results, but still coming to grips with the idea of bringing the two together and sharing data,” he said. “It’s clear that if you drive customer satisfaction up, the propensity is higher. And the more engaged employees are, the better the service to customers, which then drives satisfaction and revenue. So there is strong statistical evidence to show these two are tightly aligned and impact each other.
“What Jason and VGA can do is now create a dashboard that shows customer satisfaction and employee NPS for staff in that dealership and the correlation between them.”
According to McMurray, one of the reasons this hasn’t been prevalent to date is because of the different legacy technologies used for employee engagement measurement – something he claimed Qualtrics’platform now solves. The other reason is that employee surveys have historically been the responsibility of the HR department, whereas customer is driven by marketing and customer service.
Bradshaw said it made sense for him to own responsibility for staff engagement given his customer experience and dealer remit. However, he highlighted the importance of working with the HR department in achieving these ends.
“We believe customer experience and employees are intrinsically linked,” he said.
Bridging the CX and employee results gap is just one of a host of programs and activities Bradshaw has initiated since becoming the first director of customer experience for Volkswagen in Australia 12 months ago.
Next on his agenda is the group’s first customer experience summit in April, which will see 200 staff from across the dealer network participate in a two-day program aimed at improving their CX smarts.