Pulse survey is a tool for strategic management

A pulse survey is an excellent but challenging management tool. Many of us are fooled into thinking that it is a simple and insignificant metric – of course that’s just what it is, in principle. In reality, the benefits of a pulse survey only become concrete when it is conducted systematically and conscientiously. Benefitting from the results and making benefits visible are critical areas where many have stumbled. A pulse survey should therefore be considered a strategic level management tool.

“A pulse is too simple and dull, we couldn’t get people to respond.”

In principle, by pulse survey, we mean a frequent and regular measurement of staff sentiment, which we use to gauge the organization’s internal pulse and “health status”. Customer feedback surveys have also taken over storefronts and consumer email accounts. The idea of receiving continuous feedback and engaging in continual dialog with staff as well as customers is good, but of course it is theoretical. And very often it takes time for practice and theory to effortlessly walk hand in hand.

  1. Receiving continuous feedback requires motivation from the respondent for the feedback to be genuine. Without motivated respondents, pulse surveys are not valuable.
  2. Continuous dialog requires constant reaction on the company’s part. Merely posing questions and receiving responses do not qualify as dialog. If responses to a pulse survey are not analyzed and reacted to, the respondent becomes an interviewee, and the motivation to respond declines.

Both elements are key success factors but neither is on the task list of the survey’s technical manager – rather, it is the responsibility of the employee- or customer experience owner. In other words, a pulse survey IS NOT A POLL, it is an effective form of interaction. Communicate about the survey’s purpose and benefits, motivate the respondents, execute the survey, react to responses, develop the survey, react, inform about the development and the impact of measures taken, ask, respond, ask, and so forth. And this form of communication should take place at all levels of the company.

“A pulse survey is a manager’s hearing aid, which amplifies the voices of a company’s employees and customers.”

Continual feedback and dialog facilitate a company’s development in a customer- and employee-oriented fashion. Nowadays success requires management and development teams to have a sensitive ear so that needs and potential opportunities are correctly identified. A pulse survey is therefore a manager’s hearing aid that amplifies the voices of a company’s employees and customers. That’s all well and good, but still bigger benefits can be achieved.

We hear the refrain, “Employee experience = customer experience,” everywhere. Happy employees lead to happy customers. We invest in employee satisfaction in a completely different way than we did before. However, this idea contains many assumptions and loose observations. Has employee satisfaction really increased because of the measures undertaken? How much? How far can we assume that customer experience has improved as a result?

It is at this point that we put our faith in numerous studies on the subject and believe that employee experience is a leading indicator of customer experience. In other words, changes in employee experience in one direction or another will foreshadow a corresponding change in customer experience – after a slight delay. Thus there must be a clear way to systematically measure employee and customer experience so that we can evaluate the impact of measures implemented and proactively decide on new actions.

“We are now under pressure to measure customer experience in many ways.”

Employee experience management is customer experience management. A pulse survey sits perfectly in this context. First, we identify central company-specific employee experience elements and begin to measure their development. We engage in discussions with the staff, gather development ideas for these factors, implement procedures and determine their effect. The impact of this systematic work should always reflect on the customer experience. Customer satisfaction surveys should then validate these effects. A company’s internal process challenges, organizational silos and divisions also show up immediately in an employee pulse survey. Fast and appropriate reaction and a return to a positive development curve will minimize these effects on customer experience.

When a pulse survey takes root as a natural part of company culture and the correlation with customer experience is proven in a certain context, the value of personnel responses reaches its peak, and we can even begin to reduce the number of customer surveys. A useful employee pulse survey gives the required information: employee experience can predict a company’s future success. This should also be sufficient motivation for staff to respond to surveys and for management to build a pulse survey and communication model using the appropriate systematics and approach.

Postscript: An indicator is symbolic and leading – it is not a metric that deeply analyzes information. It is more of a thermometer than a lab report. Leading indicators don’t provide comprehensive information but their value lies in providing observations that should be examined in greater depth.

Kirsi Niiranen is an analytical business developer with an optimistic and creative approach. Kirsi’s passion for customer experience management and her broad experience in different sectors ensure that her customers achieve their goals. Kirsi makes change visible and helps develop tools for systematic management.

Pulse survey

Personal data protection regulation an Achilles heel for test material

PRESS RELEASE March 11, 2017

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation will come into force in just under one year, on May 25, 2018.  The regulation will affect all businesses with a customer information database. It will impose strict and specific rules on companies regarding the use of personal data. Once the regulation takes effect, personal data can only be used in customer service encounters. The consequences for businesses violating the directive will be extremely costly – reaching up to four percent of annual revenue.

The data protection regulation will also complicate testing related to the development of IT solutions for customer databases.

“After the regulation takes effect companies will not be able to use copies of customer information databases as test material for their IT systems, for example. It’s difficult for companies like banks and insurance firms to thoroughly test their systems without real customer data,” said Qentinel Pace product director Kalle Huttunen of Qentinel.

The directive will hit firms providing consumer services the hardest – mainly those operating in the retail, banking, insurance and health care sectors.

“Because of the massive amounts of data, the testing needs of IT systems are greater in these sectors. For years, these sectors have been looking for solutions for using personal data in test situations that comply with the data protection regulation.”

The problem has affected many businesses and has been difficult to resolve.

“We now have a solution that allows us to completely anonymize the confidential information in production databases. By anonymizing we mean for example, changing loyalty customer personal data into a form that will not allow the individual to be identified, while retaining data relating to his or her purchasing history. In this way, test material remains intact and usable from the testing perspective, while at the same time complying with the strict requirements of the data protection regulation,” Huttunen explained.

Test material available in minutes with data virtualization

Massive databases create bottlenecks in organizations’ testing. Getting a copy of the full production database into a test environment requires manual work and the process may take up to several weeks.

“Many organizations have gotten around the problem by using a small sample from the production database in testing — at the expense of test coverage,” Huttunen noted.

“The Delphix tool virtualizes data using patented block sharing technology so that we can have test material at our disposal in minutes instead of weeks. Several test environments can use copies of the same test material without mixing up test data,” Huttunen expanded.

Delphix used in 26 countries

“Delphix is used by large corporations in 26 countries, because their databases must respond to the speed of the business and must work safely,” said Gareth Whiting, Delphix partner director.

“Using Qentinel’s strong expertise and Delphix’s innovative technology, Finnish companies can effectively solve problems relating to the management of testing material. At the same time, companies can roll out applications faster, increase their test cycles by a magnitude of up to 100 and safely test their customer databases while complying with the new European data protection regulation,” Whiting added.

The Delphix tool allows for accelerated test material distribution and the anonymization of sensitive data. At the same time data require less storage space, resulting in savings for businesses. Qentinel offers Delphix as part of its Qentinel Pace solution and is the only Delphix representative in Finland.

For more information, please contact:

Kalle Huttunen
Director, Qentinel Pace
+ 358 405174636