Cloud and the Customer Experience: Employee & Partner Empowerment


This blog was written by VJ Manickam of EMC’s Customer Advocacy team. VJ engages with top level executives around the world to identify customer and partner needs.  This is one of her recent takeaways from her travels.  You can read the original post and other stories by VJ on InFocus.

Recently companies have been recognizing the need to empower the people that drive the customer experience—employees and partners. How you equip these two groups to deliver a great customer experience is critical—they are the ones who can ensure that what you say about your brand through your marketing messaging aligns with the actual customer experience. Companies should not expect to delight their customers without investing in the culture and infrastructure to allow employees and partners to own the customer experience. The cloud provides an unprecedented level of insight and collaboration that these key groups can use to satisfy customers throughout their end-to-end journey.

Netflix uses Google Apps to give its employees a way to collaborate and access information irrespective of location. In doing so, the company’s leaders believe they’re giving employees a way to act on new ideas more quickly.  Ecosystem connectivity enables information exchange across business partners. About a third of survey respondents like how cloud better facilitates external collaboration with partners and customers cited in the Economist-IBM report. HealthHiway is an online health information network that enables the exchange of health information and transactions among healthcare providers, employers, payers, practitioners, third-party administrators and patients in India. “By connecting more than 1,100 hospitals and 10,000 doctors, the company’s software-as-a-service solution facilitates better collaboration and information sharing, helping deliver improved care at a low cost, particularly important in growing markets.”

I believe that employees and partners need three freedoms to ensure that the customer experience ecosystem thrives:

  • User-friendly tools to capture feedback “in the moment”. Companies often have trouble capitalizing on the knowledge of all their customer-facing employees, especially when they are dispersed across expansive geographic regions . This is because many of those employees — like waiters and flight attendants — do not generally have access to cloud communication tools. EMC recognizes the value of these interactions and will pilot the “Voice Insight Action (VIA)” tool at this year’s EMC World event  (expected to draw 10,000 attendees) using a tablet mobile app and allowing customers to share their feedback using a microphone that translates voice-to-text. The team will then refine the tool and make it available to global employees. By aggregating data collected using this tool, EMC will be able to identify common trends and pain points across customer accounts to ensure that new ideas are surfaced to the appropriate teams and corrective actions are put in place for large-scale issues.

EMC World

  • Analytics insights to make better decisions at the moment of truth.Giving employees and partners access to a central view of the customer by drawing on multiple data sources can be difficult. However, the agility of the cloud has significantly reduced this challenge without compromising customer or business security.  Several teams at EMC are working together to connect disparate systems and data sources to create a 360-view of the customer. One example is the “End to End Dashboard” built by EMC’s Total Customer Experience team. This dashboard uses Tableau software to provide a clean and valuable view of the customer across multiple dimensions—revenue, loyalty, customer satisfaction—and allows employees and partners to compare an individual account experience compared to historical trends and similar peers. This dashboard will also be featured in EMC’s Total Customer Experience booth (463) at EMC World to show customers how we are using big data to better understand their needs.


  • Social technologies to support collaboration and knowledge-sharing.  The advent of social media engagement is a great opportunity for companies to change how they share information with employees and partners and interact with customers. The EMC Community Network is a robust online platform that has 300,000+ registered users. This allows customers, partners, and employees to access key information on topics that matter to them.  In addition to the public accessibility of this online community, EMC has also built private sections exclusively for groups, such as partners. An example is a special section open to VSPEX BLUE (one of EMC’s newest converged infrastructure technologies) partners where they can access the latest product documentation and training.

If your company is not thinking about how to activate employees and partners through the cloud…well, it’s time to do so…at least if yourgoal is to be an industry leader.  The disruptive nature of the cloud reveals a unique opportunity to transform the customer experience. Of course, any technology innovation cannot replace the need to hire and train your best brand ambassadors—employees and partners—to act as independent problem-solvers who are passionate and know how to advocate in the customer’s best interest.

I am always looking for new stories about employee empowerment and customer experience.  Please share your story in the comments below.

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About the Author: Paul Young