Most companies, large and small, now understand the importance of creating a digital product that is easy to use and intuitive for the general public. However, these companies have a dangerous tendency to ignore one of their key audiences in the digital marketplace … their own employees. Companies encourage innovation and strive to deliver groundbreaking tools to the public, but force their own employees to work on confusing, antiquated, and/or downright difficult to use tools in the workplace.
Unfortunately, the cause of poor internal products often tends to stem from the C-suite’s approach to their own internal IT products:
- Their internal product doesn’t get sold, therefore it doesn’t make any money. They believe UX doesn’t affect their bottom line.
- Their internal product is meant for business; it’s not supposed to be “fun” or “engaging."
- They don’t know how good their product can actually be, and are content with the way things have always been done.
Rest assured, however, that your employees are very aware of how much better things can be. These employees use many applications in their day-to-day life and are paying attention to the ease of their digital life. When they show up to work and don’t enjoy the same convenience with their work products, they are rightfully frustrated.
Along with affecting employee morale, a sub-par internal system can lead to many more issues that affect your company in other ways:
Time wasted: A confusing CRM can lead to employees spending huge amounts of time finding the customer records they need to do their jobs. Take a call center for example: a poorly organized system means that agents are unable to help customers as effectively as possible. While the agent fumbles through the system, customers experience longer wait times and less satisfaction overall.
Data integrity issues: When employees can’t use the systems provided for them efficiently, they will find other options. If employees use third party products or keep manual records in notebooks the integrity of those notes can be lost when attempting to reintroduce it to your own system. Copying and pasting leads to errors and lost data. Not to mention the risk that it never makes it back into your own system at all.
Security issues: If your internal systems are difficult to use, your employees will find workarounds like using personal emails to send documents and files. Employees will jot things down on notepads and store potentially sensitive material in ways not keeping with company policies. This can lead to data loss and potential security breaches.
Increased training time: The highest cost you likely carry is human capital. An inherently bad system requires many more hours of training time for new hires. Longer training times mean less productivity from both the trainer and the trainee, as well as continuous productivity loses when employees need to reference training manuals, or ask other employees how to perform tasks. Your internal user experience should be intuitive and easy to learn.
Lack of employee focus: When your internal systems are fast and easy to use, employees stay focused on tasks longer and produce more. A slow, arduous system causes employees to disengage with work. This leads to massive amounts of downtime and lost productivity.
Lost revenue: Lastly, while it may be easy to say your internal product doesn’t MAKE you any money, C-suite members often don’t consider the money it COSTS them when employees are using bad software.
LET’S LOOK AT TWO EXAMPLES
Dave is on the sales team –
On a bad day, Dave handles 50 sales calls. He closes 4% of all the calls he makes, and his average sale is $1,000. So, on any given day, Dave can close 2 customers and generate $2000 in revenue for the company. With the shortcomings of his current CRM, recording the information for each call takes on average 2.5 minutes. His average call time is ~7min, and 2.5 min of data entry. If an investment in the CRM was made allowing Dave to spend only 1.5 min on data entry, Dave could make 5 more calls per day, resulting in an extra $1000 in revenue per week and $50,000 extra revenue in the course of a year. If you have a sales team of 15 people, that investment in your CRM has just increased your revenue by $750,000 over the course of a year.
Barbara works in the call center –
In an 8 hour shift, with an average call time of 5 minutes, Barbara can take 96 calls. However, due to her internal record keeping system, she spends 45 extra seconds per call switching between screens to enter her data. Because of this frustration, she often jots notes on paper next to her desk and enters the information after the call. Sometimes she forgets to enter these notes into her CRM and critical pieces of the customer experience are lost. If Barbara had a more usable interface, she could not only more easily enter her data, but would also get 45 seconds back from every call. With a new average call time of 4.25 min, Barbara can now take 112 calls per day … an almost 17% increase in productivity, and 16 more happy customers per day, which over the course of a year, results in 4000 more customers being reached. And that’s just from Barbara. If your call center is 10 people, then you can effectively handle 40,000 more calls per year.
While it’s easy to focus your efforts on your public facing digital persona, companies cannot afford to do it at the expense of their internal products.
As you can see by our examples, these wasted seconds and minutes slogging through an unintuitive interface really add up. So next time you say “our internal systems are fine as they are,” ask yourself if you’re willing to leave that much money on the table or that many customers left unreached.
While it’s easy to focus your efforts on your public facing digital persona, companies cannot afford to do it at the expense of their internal products. Because at the end of the day, all of these issues lead to lost dollars whether you see them on your books or not.