Reflections in a Time of Crisis
How the personal lessons learnt during COVID-19 can change how we look after our teams and customers.
Over the last year, most of us have learnt something new about ourselves. Many of us have had time to reflect, enabling us to create deeply personal insights from moments in our lives.
One of IMI’s alumni, Brian Horgan had one of these moments this year. During the first lockdown at the start of the year, Brian chose to become a full-time carer to his mother who is suffering from a form of Parkinson’s disease. Brian, whose background is in Customer and Employee Experience Consulting reflects on how learnings from his personal life experience can be applied to how we treat customers and staff in organisations.
Through his experience, Brian says he learnt several important lessons:
- When providing care to someone, it is important to provide them with choice; no matter how small or simple, so that they feel heard and feel like they have a sense of control over the situation.
- We often hear that change can be difficult, and this can be particularly challenging when caring for a loved one as routines can become so important for providing a sense of stability. Yet, Brian suggests that change is important when the situation requires it, even if it means taking a step back or becoming more flexible than originally thought.
- Letting in other perspectives is important and can be illuminating. Talking to other people who know your loved one helps you see them not just as a mother or father but their other roles as a friend, a sister or a confidante. This knowledge allows you to see them in a broader light and meet more of their needs.
- Finally, learning the importance of self-care is critical. Looking after someone else’s needs can be tiring and emotionally demanding, so building in self-care moments for yourself is critical to “stay the course” Brian says.
Applying Personal Lessons to Customer and Employee Experiences in Organisations
Brian believes that the lessons learnt from the personal experiences we have all had this year can help re-shape the way we now work as leaders and as team members. He believes that by applying these lessons we can help create a fuller connection to customers and employees. His lessons include:
- Give choices
Small things matter even if they are the simplest of choices. Provide your customers and staff with choices; it makes them feel they have been listened to and ultimately empowers them. Brainstorm with your team about what choices could be added to the customer journey. As a manager, identify what choices you could provide your team with as part of your leadership style.
- Build a fuller picture
Always get other insights on your customers and your staff. Ask for independent views from someone you trust, particularly about your team. They may show you another side of the person you are not seeing and identify needs you did not realise were there.
- Repetition causes burnout
Repetitive routines can cause emotional, mental, or physical burnout. Mix things up regularly to keep things fresh and reduce strain. Change weekly meeting times, change ‘the chairs’ of meetings, shuffle up meeting agendas, change up ownership of tasks etc. Identify what processes are fixed and those causing ‘wear and tear’ within your team.
- Build-in flexibility within the journey
Review, redesign, and build agility into your customer journey. This agility enables the customer and the staff member to connect with each other to enable a better experience for both parties. Flexibility also allows for individual preferences to be accommodated for, without losing sight of the end goal.
- Take breaks or the wheels come off
When designing your customer journey, look at it from your staff’s point of view; where do they get a break? Where within it is there space for them to refuel? What boundaries are in place to ensure they can switch off? Ask your teams what helps them re-charge, check for patterns and build them into your management practices.