At our annual Workforce Institute advisory board meeting, I heard about something very cool that Kronos was doing when it comes to customer service. They bring the customer to their meetings. Literally. That is, in the form of customer cut-outs.
Obviously, Kronos has customer events like their annual users conference where they interact face-to-face with customers. They also have a quarterly program that brings customers to their site to interact directly with their product teams. But in talking with Chief Product Officer Jim Welch, they wanted to ensure that the company maintained a customer-centric approach every day. “We want our product development team to be immersed and really understand the workforce issues that our customers face so we can exceed – not just meet – our customers’ expectations. We brainstormed to determine how we can place our customers in the day-to-day environment of Kronos and came up with the idea of life-size customer cut-outs.
What better way to develop innovative solutions for our customers than to have our customers virtually represented in meetings and throughout our workplace?”
Now I must admit when I first heard about this, I couldn’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t have been cheaper just to say, “What would the customer say if they were here?” but Jim explained that the cut-outs serve as a constant visual reminder. “Our goal in having the customers in the room was to get the team to think about the person and individual experience not just the company. Employees are impacted by their physical environment, and having life-size representations of customers keeps our customers’ needs at the forefront of everyone’s mind. And when we need to reference a problem that a customer faces, we can use the cut-out as a prop for discussion. It is much more impactful.”
The cut-outs are quite life like. They range between 5.5-6 feet tall and are mounted on heavy-duty foam. They used stock images to represent the different types of customer that Kronos has, whether it’s a nurse or a fireman. Attached to each of the cut-outs is a profile of a Kronos customer with the details of their solution and the critical business issues most important to them for effectively managing their workforces.
One thing that struck me when I saw the cut-outs was that Kronos is focused on the user experience. The customer cut-outs represent the people who are using their systems each day. Those people exist at every level of the organization – not just the human resources department.
I was curious to know how employees reacted to the suggestion of bringing the cut-outs to meetings. Was it immediately embraced as an innovative idea or did people view it as a bit . . . well, eccentric? Jim admitted the idea did take some adjustment but employees were quick to adapt. And he added that the change has produced positive results. “Since we put the cut-outs in our innovation center conference rooms, we have seen a change in the way our product developers approach problem solving. We don’t focus on solving technology problems; we’re solving real problems with their workforce. And our technology helps tens of thousands of organizations around the world do just that. This shift in thinking is supported by our customer cut-outs.”
My thanks to Kronos for sharing this story with us. It wouldn’t take much for organizations to take a bit of creative inspiration and bring the customer (literally) to their meetings. Jim said it best, “We believe in constantly changing the way we do things. This mentality opens doors to new ideas and can lead to great innovations.”
As a human resources pro, I wonder what people would think if we started bringing “employees” to the meeting. And what kind of results we would achieve.