What does Undercover Boss and user experience management have in common?

User Experience Management

Want to know what your users really think and where your processes are falling down? You could go undercover, or try User Experience Management software, as Jesse Bernal writes.

User Experience Management for enterprise software is very much like the television series Undercover Boss. In every episode, a senior executive (typically the CEO) goes undercover and works in random jobs – side by side – with front-line employees across various business functions. The show has highlighted enterprise businesses across industries, including an airline, restaurant franchise, ski resort and waste management operator. Jobs range from order fulfillment to customer service and everything in between. During these front-line experiences the Undercover Boss truly learns the issues that are impacting business-critical matters like personnel performance, employee satisfaction and customer service, to name just a few. In their undercover role, they learn what’s really happening in the trenches – pertinent information that is often not effectively captured or communicated up the hierarchy.

Before the Undercover Boss experience, C-level executives would likely hear about employee performance or job satisfaction from mid-level management. If there were issues or complaints, the CEO might hear it second or third-hand from various members of their staff. The CEO wouldn’t know definitively if those complaints were company-wide or if they were created by a few select employees. At times, C-level executives can be removed from the day-to-day operations. They may only get information about issues or complaints periodically, and in some cases they never hear about problems that may have a material impact on the business. Visibility is limited and could be skewed by the layers of staff between management and the actual employees doing the work.

Undercover Boss gives executives unique insight at the employee level through hands-on experience. CEOs step into the shoes of the employees and see the obstacles they face, job frustrations, or the processes that need improvement. Executives are given an extraordinary opportunity to make significant improvements towards employee productivity and satisfaction as well as operational efficiency and overall business performance.

User Experience Management (UEM) offers the C-level executive the same in-depth intelligence for enterprise software. It captures insight at the individual user level to identify problems, eliminate workflow bottlenecks, and improve transactional processes. Benefits of UEM include improved employee performance, increased employee satisfaction, and better customer service delivery.

Let’s take a closer look how organisations running enterprise software such as SAP can benefit from UEM:

  • Identify real underlying issues based on data versus perceived issues
  • Eliminate workflow bottlenecks
  • Improve transactional processes and create operational efficiencies
  • Increase employee adoption of enterprise technology

User Experience Management solutions enable organisations and their C-level executive teams to measure and analyse how employees are actually interfacing with and engaging their enterprise software. From this insight management has the capability to make adjustment and improvements to workflow and processes as well as invest in training to optimise their software investment.

Take, for example, a large American multinational food manufacturing company. Before implementing UEM, they had a major issue with the use of manual pricing throughout their organisation. This was problematic because the manual pricing process was slowing and even stopping orders from being fulfilled. They knew they had a problem but they were struggling to understand why, where and when manual pricing was being used in their organisation and furthermore, how to correct the issue.

This manual, non-standard pricing process was costing them, on average, ten dollars a line item per sales order.  Errors were being made during manual input of the pricing or during the tax calculation part of the process. These input errors resulted in invoicing issues and often times led to customer disputes over debits or credits, and frankly unhappy customers.

For this particular food manufacturing company, incorrect, manual pricing was stopping, on average, three sales orders a day. To make matters worse, it took them an additional one to two days to correct the processing error. The results were lost sales and lost hours trying to rectify these manual errors.

By using UEM and essentially becoming an Undercover Boss, they were able to identify root cause of the issue, right down to the employees that were using old, out of date price sheets rather than the real-time, accurate system pricing. They were able to properly train those users to leverage the correct pricing provided in the system and drastically reduce the number of pricing errors occurring in their organisation.

Employees were happy to learn the proper process and eliminate the complex, error-ridden, manual one they had been using. They became more efficient and proficient at their jobs which increased job satisfaction and sales orders were processed in a timely and accurate fashion. This made sales, management and everyone up to the CEO happy too.

The costs savings by simply identifying where the manual pricing process was happening and ensuring employees were given the tools to do their jobs correctly saved over $150,000 in a three month cycle and $600,000 over the course of a year.

By implementing UEM, this large multinational food company was able to derive real employee insights leveraging real user data. They could see where employees diverted from the processes they were supposed to use in order to perform the manual process. By tracking each step in their workflow, it became clear where the problem initiated.  They could see where employees encountered issues or errors in the system or a process and how many times this occurred.  All of this new found insight gave the organisation the information they needed to course correct and dramatically reduce the number of pricing and invoicing issues they were experiencing.

C-level executives took notice. They now realise the value of true visibility into how employees use the enterprise software tools provided. They understand the importance of pinpointing the root cause of a major issue in order to ensure employees and customers are satisfied. They further understand that properly trained employees are less likely to make these types of costly mistakes.

Making money, saving money, making employees more efficient and keeping customers happy is at the core of what every CEO cares about. By identifying just one area for improvement, this organisation put more than a half a million dollars back into their company’s pocket. Imagine what else UEM will do for them?

Like the Undercover Boss, UEM is applicable across industries. It provides CEOs and C-level executives with actionable intelligence to understand what front-line employees are experiencing as they perform tasks that support business-critical operations.

The breadth of use cases where UEM can help streamline operations, eliminate inefficiency and truly help employees do their jobs better, is nearly unlimited. But until C-level executives truly understand what employees on the ground are experiencing, they will never be able to fully comprehend how it impacts their business, let alone be in the position to make adjustments and improvements.

UEM lets every C-level executive experience the valuable and impactful benefits of the Undercover Boss experience – minus the awkward disguises and camera crew.

Jessie Bernal is VP, Global Shared Services at Knoa Software, a leading provider of user experience and performance management software. Knoa provides organisations with unique insight into employee behavior and experience when interacting with ERP and enterprise software solutions.

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