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    Untangling the Technical: Ex (Employee Experience) with Arch + Tower

    Employee experience can directly affect your customer experience, resulting in lost profits.  John Hightower, Co-founder and CEO of Arch + Tower, an FD company, explains how understanding your employees’ needs is important to your company’s operational excellence.

    Untangling the Technical is available on iTunes, Google Play MusicSpotify and more. Listen now using the player below or download it to listen later. (If you cannot see the player, please accept functionality cookies at the bottom of this page and refresh.)

    Untangling the Technical: Ex (Employee Experience) with Arch + Tower

    This transcript was assembled by hand and may contain some errors.

    It has been edited for readability.

    Adelle Erdman Welcome to Untangling the Technical, Frazier & Deeter’s podcast, in which we take a look at complex business issues and we try to break them down for business executives navigating a complicated and ever-changing business environment.

    This is Adelle Erdman, and today, I am delighted to welcome John Hightower back to the podcast. Welcome, John.

    John Hightower So good to be back. Thank you, Adelle.

    Adelle Excellent. John is the President of Arch + Tower, which is the newest addition to the Frazier & Deeter family of brands and it’s a really pretty interesting set of services that you guys provide, so I’m really excited you can come back today.

    By the way, if you haven’t listened to our previous episode with John, I encourage you to do so. Last time, we took a deep dive into customer experience. Today, we wanted to shift gears a little bit, and take a deeper look at employee experience as part of your CX, EX, OX model.

    So, for our listeners, who are just joining the series, can you take a minute and explain what the CX, EX, OX model is?

    John Absolutely. So, the CX, EX, OX model is something that we’ve built over time. It’s our model of services that’s built on proven methodologies and various experiences that our team has brought through from our career, as well as, looking at some of the clients that we’ve served. We’ve had the opportunity to walk alongside Chick-fil-A doing multiple projects with them, and we’ve gotten to work with the founder of the Ritz-Carlton Horst Schulze and people asked, what do they do?

    Well, they take care of their customers. They take care of their employees, and they continuously look to improve their process or product, whatever it may be. So, as we were strategically thinking about where do we stand in the market, we said, “Let’s take that customer experience, employee experience, and what we call Operational Excellence model to the market.” and it’s been highly received, we’re excited about it. For the CX side, if you think about who in that organization owns that space, is the Chief Marketing Officer. The EX is traditionally the Chief People Officer, Chief HRO Officer, and even on the OX side it’s the COO. If you’re a small business or mid-sized business and you’re the CEO, you need to be thinking about each one of those spectrums.

    But when you dig deeper into the stats, it shows that it’s a really unique space that 80% of CEOs feel like they’re giving a great customer experience to their clients and only 8% clients agree.

    Adelle Okay, I’m sorry. Did you say 80 versus 8?

    John Yes, eight,zero. 80% of CEOs feel like they’re getting a great customer experience, and 8% of customers as well.

    So, that’s a 72% difference there, and what’s really ironic is 82% of folks feel like that human interaction is driving the customer experience. So, when you think about the entire statistics we just brought you through, and we can tell story after story about how great employees make decisions. And they’re given the opportunity to do that. They’re going to look consistently and look to correct mistakes that they’re making, or looking at their product or their service and how can we better empower the organization to serve our clients better? But, when it comes to the employee experience, it starts by some of these people we talked about earlier, the folks in the HR team, the folks on the technology team, to the point of, hey, how are we selecting the right people?

    What does our selection process look like? How do we go into our applicant tracking system, and is that a smooth experience for the employees? It’s almost a customer centric view of how you treat your employees, and that’s been a really cool conversation we’ve had with organizations, is, how are you taking this customer conversation and saying, “How am I serving my internal customers, my employees better?” So, once you go through that selection process, how to onboard them?

    A lot of times the onboarding process, there’s opportunity for improvement, and it’s really cool to think about, how have we onboarded someone instead of coming in and having a stack of documents that they sign and say, “We’re so glad you’re here. We’re expecting you, and we’re very intrigued at how we want to see you grow here. We want to launch you into that next position in the organization and pour into you.” That changes the entire narrative. There’s so much statistics to share that the first day experience is a huge opportunity to impact people and not brushing out by the side but pouring resource into it.

    Then from there, monitoring that conversation. When you think about performance reviews and all the different things that are used, how do you continue the conversation in a much more thematic way? Create the rhythms in the organizations where that’s a constant conversation and especially as you start thinking about the war for talent, and the next generation coming up, and the generations that are already in the workforce wanting to have that feedback more consistently. How do you create that culture of excellence through that employee experience?

    Adelle Yeah. I think that’s really important and it’s something that some of us who are in the service industries have been attuned to that for a while. You know, as we’re duking it out for talent and trying to really listen to people and we talk about being DDO – deliberately developmental organization and how it’s about nurturing people as they try to learn. Whether that’s in their personal lives or their business lives, I think what you’re saying is really incredibly important to any kind of company.

    But you’re making me think about psychology which, you know, dusting off my undergraduate classes there. Could you talk a little bit about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and how that framework really affects your thinking?

    John Absolutely. I’m blessed to work with some amazing team members. One of my partners, Chris Green, wrote an article that you can find on archandtower.com that talks about this concept. It’s an amazing concept when you think about the felt needs of people, and we talked about this in the last podcast.

    I’d encourage folks that have not listened to that one, go back and listen to the felt needs section, which is really focused on, how do you listen to your customers? That’s what we cover in the last podcast. Here, how are you listening to your employees, and how are you listening to what their real needs are when you look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

    It’s really interesting when you look at the layers of the pyramid, and for those that may need to brush up, that first layer is survival. How does that apply organizationally?

    When you think about it on the physical side, do folks have food, shelter, water, those things. In the organization, when you flip it, and you look at the organizational point of view from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, do people have manageable deadlines? Are projects slipping because it’s just unmanageable of what’s on their work plate. Having that conversation and understanding how do we move people from survival to thriving. It’s a really cool dialog and a really cool conversation to have, but there’s a psychological impact when you start thinking about the employee experience that, we believe is extremely under tapped in the market.

    Adelle Yeah, I think that’s fascinating just applying that hierarchy to an organization is something that I’m pretty sure a lot of our listeners have never thought about, so that’s great that people can find that on the archandtower.com website.

    Well, tell me about one of your product lines that you offer is Need to Lead. Who is the audience for Need to Lead, and what really is it?

    John It has been a fun product to help build. Again, amazing team members.

    We’ve created this product from scratch, and what we saw was an opportunity to take some timeless principles, and make them timely with some really unique communicators that focus on leadership through the lens of hospitality. Hospitality is one of those key things that really impact the customer experience. And again, if you’re treating the internal employees as customers, how do you bring hospitality into the employee experience? So, we partnered with some great communicators, a couple that have just been doing some really unique things in the market and have created some really cool content and have some books available. Horst Schulze, the founder of the Ritz Carlton, has been one that we have rolled up our sleeves and built content with, as well as, I believe, a very exciting communicator Jason Young, he wrote a book called The Comeback Effect. And we brought those concepts into 2-3 minute segments. Very much a digestible, quick hit, a dose of content that makes you think.

    Then what we’ve created is worksheets and work product that organizations can bring to their teams. This is one of those products that we want to make it highly visible for folks to continue those conversations in the organizations.

    Adelle Why don’t you tell me a little bit more? I mean, I personally think these principles apply to anybody everywhere, but, talk to me a little bit about what kind of companies you typically work with, and what are the companies that really wake up one day and say, “We have to deal with the employee experience, and how it’s impacting our overall company.”.

    John It’s one of those things that, I think there’s worry and concern. Worry is not taking action, Concern is taking action, right? And when you’re concerned about it, you’re thinking about it. I believe most every organization should be concerned about each one of those areas, right? The customer experience is key to the revenue, their organization. You’re going to drive profits, you’re going to win more work, you’re going to get those customers, that’s great.

    On the employee experience side, when you’re empowering them and working with them, they’re going to be able to help you accelerate improvements in the organization, could be an operational excellence play. We’re working with an organization right now that is empowering their team members to find micro efficiencies in their service model, really cool stuff. When you think about that, and you even go into the supply chain, we do some work inside of the supply chain space, you’re looking at micro efficiencies even in your vendor systems. And those all impact your employee experiences, your customer experiences when you think about, “Hey, how are we being holistic in our approach to come alongside and working holistically in the organization?”.

    Adelle Excellent. Well, how can people learn more about Arch + Tower?

    John Well, you can follow us on LinkedIn. You can find us at archandtower.com, our website. Again, we’re going to put a link in the episode description to drive you to that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs article. I really recommend people take time to do that five-minute read. It’s a great article that I believe will enlighten conversation within the organization.

    Adelle Alright. Well, I want to thank you John for joining us today and talking to us more about the CX, EX, OX model and specifically what people should be thinking about in terms of the employee experience aspect of that. Thank you so much for joining us. And to our audience, thank you for listening to Frazier & Deeter’s Untangling the Technical podcast.

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