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80% of consumers say that customer experience is just as important as the products or services that a company provides.
Employees and new hires must have the skills to create positive experiences that bring customers back and get them to spread the word about your brand.
This is where people intelligence comes in.
People intelligence isn’t just a buzzword or a passing fad. 71% of organizations now see it as a high priority.
But what does people intelligence mean, and how can you apply it in your company?
In this Process Street blog post, we’ll look at the following:
- What is people intelligence?
- How can you apply people intelligence
- How can improving customer service boost your bottom line?
- Tips for building your company’s people intelligence
Let’s dive in!
What is people intelligence?
When thinking about your company’s most valuable assets, something like copyrights, trademarks, or intellectual property might spring to mind.
But that’s not really it.
Your most valuable asset is the people who make up your workforce. They’re ultimately the ones who sell your products and interact with customers.
People intelligence is the process of collecting and analyzing data about people in your organization to make informed decisions.
People intelligence informs decisions made at all stages of the talent management process, from where to place new hires to training that current employees would benefit from as they transition to new roles.
Business objectives are constantly changing — they have to if you want to stay relevant and remain competitive. You need to be agile to keep pace in an evolving marketplace and differentiate your brand.
But your employees’ capabilities must be aligned with your new objectives. This will ensure they have the necessary skills to push those objectives forward.
65% of respondents in an organization with a strong people intelligence culture say their business performance is stronger than competitors.
How you can apply people intelligence
Managing your employees according to their strengths, capabilities, and ambitions is the essence of people intelligence within a company. Here are the many ways you can apply people intelligence to your organization and drive your objectives forward.
Improve the talent acquisition process
Talent acquisition is one of the most important roles for any organization — you need to hire people with the right skills. But it’s also a time-consuming process that involves screening potential hires and onboarding new employees.
According to a report on the future of work by McKinsey, approximately 1 in 16 people will need to transition to a different occupation by 2030 due to the shift in demand for certain occupations post-COVID-19. Additionally, a recent poll by StuDocu shows that 64% of US student respondents are fearing career and employment setbacks, including reduced job opportunities and being unable to find a job within their professional skills. This means that companies need to evaluate candidates based on more than just their qualifications on paper.
Data from people intelligence can help you identify attributes that lead to high-performing employees. They can also help you determine the sources where your best candidates come from, so you can focus on those acquisition channels.
Reduce employee turnover rates
The cost of a high turnover rate is significant.
This includes direct costs, like fees paid to recruiters, and indirect costs like lost productivity when employees leave.
Current employees who are likely working at full capacity also have to take on even more work until you fill those vacant positions. This can lead to employees feeling unhappy and even burning out.
For your organization to thrive, you need to retain employees. One report found that 78% of the reasons employees quit could be prevented by the employer.
Some of these include:
- Lack of growth opportunities
- Limited schedule flexibility
- Poor treatment by managers
- Increased workload
Data from people intelligence can help you identify common attributes from previous resignations and keep talent from leaving.
For example, if a top reason for the turnover rate is a lack of growth opportunities, HR leaders can take a proactive approach and engage employees on what they need to do next to advance.
Increase diversity and inclusive effort
Workplace diversity refers to companies that employ people from diverse backgrounds. They encompass the following characteristics:
Hiring a diverse workforce is increasingly essential for success.
Bilingual employees tend to bring home up to 20% more income than those who speak just one language. The most popular languages that contributed to these earnings were Spanish, French, and German.
Looking at the bigger picture, more racially and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to report higher financial results than national industry medians.
The reason is simple — a diverse workforce gives you access to unique experiences and viewpoints that you can leverage to solve customer needs.
People intelligence can give you more visibility into the hiring process and point out where your diversity initiatives are falling short.
Optimize workforce planning
Workforce planning is important because it helps you make informed decisions on where and when to allocate human capital.
For example, companies like FedEx and UPS frequently go on hiring sprees around the holidays. Without proper workforce planning, they simply wouldn’t be able to make all their deliveries.
In one survey, 73% of leaders have missed business objectives due to poor workforce planning.
Data from people intelligence can help you fill the positions that are required to meet business objectives and seek out the skills you need to fill in talent gaps.
Improve your customer service
Customer service has a direct impact on your bottom line.
Deliver great customer experiences, and you can expect repeat purchases. If you leave customers with a negative impression, you likely won’t be in business for long.
Even when customers love a brand, 59% will walk away after a few bad experiences. 17% would consider other options after just one bad experience.
You can easily apply people intelligence to your customer service team.
When hiring customer service reps, you might look for people who score high in emotional intelligence — the ability to manage emotions and empathize with others.
How does emotional intelligence improve customer experience?
Here’s what Daniel Goleman writes in his book, Working with Emotional Intelligence:
“How customers feel when they interact with an employee determines how they feel about the company itself. In a psychological sense, the ‘company’ as experienced by the customer is a sum of these interactions. Loyalty is lost or strengthened in every interaction between a company and its customers.”
In this case, you want to hire people who understand your industry well and empathize with your customers.
Let’s focus more on this point in the next section.
How improving customer service boosts your bottom line
Your employees are the face of your organization. They’re the ones who interact with your customers and find ways to increase their spending.
If your employees aren’t engaged in their work, bad attitudes may manifest when communicating with customers. This can cause customers to churn.
Here’s why customer service is important:
1. Customers pay more for better customer experiences
67% of consumers are willing to spend more on companies that deliver exceptional customer experiences.
A single interaction often influences purchasing decisions. It can be the deciding factor for many consumers on staying with your brand or choosing a competitor.
Building your company’s people intelligence can create an environment that allows employees to prioritize the customer service experience.
2. Happy customers are more likely to spread the word
Happy customers don’t just pay more for better experiences. They also act as brand advocates by spreading the word about your company.
Up to 77% of consumers have shared positive experiences with others.
Think back to an incredible experience you had with a brand. If a company went out of its way to exceed your expectations, you’d likely tell your friends and family about it.
Similarly, when your customers are happier, they’re more likely to refer others. This, in turn, can drive more sales to your business.
The opposite is also true. Customers are likely to spread the word about poor experiences either online or in person. Negative reviews can hurt your brand reputation and cost you sales.
3. Exceptional customer service increases the customer lifetime value
Customer lifetime value (CLV) refers to the total revenue you can expect from one customer. It’s an important metric because it costs less to retain customers than to acquire new ones.
Increasing this value is a great way to drive growth, as it means existing customers are spending more at your company. One way to increase CLV is to focus on customer service, something that Zappos has built a solid reputation on.
Jay ordered shoes from Zappos for a wedding, but UPS accidentally routed the package to the wrong location. The shoes wouldn’t arrive in time for the big day.
With few options left, Jay called Zappos and spoke with Lydia who offered to overnight a replacement pair. She even issued a full refund and upgraded his account to VIP, giving him free shipping on future orders.
Gestures like these not only leave a lasting impression but will also increase customer loyalty. As Jay says:
“Zappos has earned a customer for life. In addition to all of this, I originally ordered from them because they had the cheapest deal on the shoes I needed.”
Other ways to improve customer service include:
- Offering support across different channels
- Deploying chatbots on your site
- Providing 24/7 support
- Monitoring social media networks
- Seeking customer feedback
Taking steps to improve customer service ultimately translates to more sales. Companies that prioritize customer experience outperform laggards by nearly 80%.
Let’s take a look at what you can do to build your company’s people intelligence.
1. Get buy-in from key stakeholders
Getting buy-in is critical to implement any major changes in an organization.
If C-Suite executives are skeptical about the value of people intelligence, your organization might not be ready.
As Professor John Kotter from Harvard Business School explains:
“Our research has shown that 70% of all organizational change efforts fail, and one reason for this is executives simply don’t get enough buy-in, from enough people, for their initiatives and ideas.”
You need to win support from people at all levels of the company.
Here are some tips that can help:
- Clearly lay out your ideas
- Provide concrete examples
- Solicit feedback from others
- Engage key decision-makers
- Use data to bolster your ideas
- Refine your message
Getting buy-in isn’t something that happens overnight. But it’ll help your efforts gain more traction.
2. Build a people intelligence team
The next step is to build a team to support your efforts. This team will consist of people who can help you identify and solve business issues.
The people intelligence team should also have skills in areas like psychology, data science, and HR. They will also help with hiring customer service representatives who align with your organization’s objectives.
Transparency is important when building a people intelligence team. It creates a sense of trust and makes employees feel like their contributions are valued.
You can adopt a more transparent culture by involving employees in the planning process and giving them ownership over their work.
Enabling teams to manage their own work is far more effective than micromanaging, a management style that affects morale and hurts creativity.
As Adam Henshall, Content Marketing Manager at Process Street, says:
“Encouraging creativity in the workplace is the most efficient way of overcoming operational problems. Most of the time, the people who do the work know how to do the work better, given the necessary support.”
Involve your team right from the start and trust them to make their own decisions. Establish open communication channels that team members can use to share updates with each other.
3. Formulate strategic questions
Ask the right questions to draw more insights from your people intelligence efforts.
Start by asking questions that align with your business objectives. Then work out how your team can answer those questions.
For example, let’s say that turnover rates for your customer service team are high. The higher workloads for other team members are weakening their ability to solve customer needs.
The first question to ask is why are employees leaving? Are they leaving because of a lack of growth opportunities? Or are they leaving because the job isn’t a good fit for them?
If it’s the latter, one thing you can do to retain your employees is to relocate them to positions that are better suited to their skills.
Likewise, if customer satisfaction scores decline, asking the right questions can help you determine the appropriate solutions.
This might include investing more in your customer service training and re-evaluating how you hire staff.
4. Choose a people intelligence solution
People intelligence provides the insights you need to improve customer service. You need a solution that lets you collect and analyze data about your people.
Some options include:
- Quantum Workplace: Quantum Workplace is an employee engagement software that enables you to track the employee journey, make talent decisions, and understand flight risk.
- Peoplelogic: Peoplelogic is a people intelligence platform that helps customer service leaders reduce burnout and deliver engaging employee experiences.
- Qualtrics: Qualtrics is an employee management software that gathers data across the employee lifecycle and delivers insights for managers to improve engagement.
These platforms provide a centralized location for managing data about your employees throughout the entire talent lifecycle.
5. Leverage automation tools
Organizations are frequently looking for ways to do more with less.
It’s no surprise that the global automation market is expected to generate around $214 billion in revenue worldwide — $83 billion alone is from the process automation segment.
Many HR departments and team managers spend a significant amount of time on manual administrative processes, making it difficult for them to build their people intelligence.
When you automate processes like leave requests, travel authorizations, and new hire onboarding, you’ll free up your team to focus on employees as individuals.
Automation tools also enable your customer service team to spend more time on solving customer-facing issues instead of getting bogged down by mundane tasks.
Key takeaways on people intelligence
Achieving business objectives like increasing customer satisfaction and generating more sales ultimately depends on your employees.
People intelligence can deliver the insights you need to make informed decisions about hiring and retaining talent and ways to improve customer service.
Are you currently leveraging people intelligence in your organization? Let us know in the comments below!
Leks Drakos, Ph.D. is a rogue academic with a PhD from the University of Kent (Paris and Canterbury). Research interests include HR, DEIA, contemporary culture, post-apocalyptica, and monster studies. Twitter: @leksikality [he/him]