The Pursuit of Exceptional
Keys to Providing Exceptional Experiences at the Programme and Mobile Employee Levels
In business, every service or commodity has a customer expectation or “experience” associated with it. Lower cost items equal lower expectations. Higher priced items typically require higher levels of customer service to elevate the experience.
But what about services where people are the focus, like Global Mobility? Service satisfaction – or providing the Exceptional Employee Experience – then becomes a key barometer to measure the success of your employees’ relocations, especially when families are involved. But that’s not the only way to define success.
Achieving Exceptional Is a Balancing Act
As a mobility manager, you set the bar for what exceptional should look like for your mobile employee. At the same time, your relocation management company’s (RMC’s) global mobility consultant constantly strives to raise that bar of service. One of the common hurdles that each of you face is the constant tug between the two major priorities inherent in your programme: “How can your employees consistently experience high levels of service while the programme itself meets the needs and expectations of your business?”
We understand that pursuing exceptional experiences is a main goal for each relocation. We also know the pressure you’re under to control costs and work within one or more internal budgets. It’s not difficult to see how mobile employees – and the service they experience – could get caught in the middle.
That’s why ensuring Exceptional Employee Experiences requires work on two levels: at the programme/policy level and at the service delivery level. In this blog, we’ll examine what mobility programme managers can do in both areas, along with tips on how you can balance the two – the needs of your business and delivering an exceptional experience for your top talent.
Six Keys to Exceptional Experiences at the Programme and Policy Level
Keep in mind, what you do at this level is important for two reasons:
- If designed properly, a sound Global Mobility policy structure can provide overall programme cost-certainty and predictability.
- The programme and the policies you set forth lay the foundation for opportunities to provide exceptional service based on individual mobile talent requirements and requests. Along these lines, be sure to look for patterns with data and analytics. Your data can tell important stories about your employees. You can unearth information and trends that can help you adjust and improve processes.
In a recent Mobility Magazine article, the author points out that “Customers and employees alike … want to connect with a company that understands them, communicates with them in the way they prefer to communicate, and has an easy process to address concerns.”1 That’s a good start in identifying the features of an exceptional mobility programme.
The best mobility programmes – the ones that form the foundation of Exceptional Employee Experiences – have key features. We’ve identified six, starting with those that were chosen in a survey of Global Mobility leaders at 2019 insideMOBILITY events around the world (see results below):
As you can see, the priorities vary somewhat across region, as they should, but several clearly transcend globally, including:
- Plan Transparency – Employees value their time. They want to be able to easily understand and digest programme information about eligibility, scope, processes and more. You can’t preclude all misunderstandings and complications, but you can certainly take steps to minimise them.
- Programme Flexibility – Employees value quick and decisive responses and problem resolution. The programme must have provisions that empower the employee, your mobility team members, relocation management consultant and service providers to make critical decisions on short notice.
- Experienced Consultant – Employees would rather not work with someone who’s learning on the job. Their comfort level rises exponentially when their consultant “has seen it all” and is working proactively on their behalf while anticipating their needs and guiding them through the process.
- Technology Tools – Employee engagement with the technology – the visibility they have and the amount of control they’re given – helps shape their experience and level of satisfaction. They want to see for themselves how their relocation activities are lining up and they want to be able to engage 24/7 online or via an app.
- Family Support – One of the top reasons an assignment fails – or never happens – is that the family’s needs haven’t been met, or they are not happy or engaged. Partners, dependents and even pets cannot be afterthoughts.
- Effective Communication – Employees expect responsiveness. At a recent insideMOBILITY event, keynote speaker, Shane Smith, a former soft-drink industry executive and now the CHRO of for Tailored Brands, described the communication-action dynamic built around real-time feedback and empowered response. Touchpoints should be plentiful and in the manner that is most effective for the mobile employee and their work/life style. Learn more >>
As these six priorities show, employees value having a robust set of options specific to their individual mobility programmes. And here’s the good news: plans that meet these criteria are the easiest to build budgets around. Vague plans and policies that trigger too many unexpected situations or require exceptions can drive up costs and potentially have a negative impact on the employee experience. Precise plans drive more certainty.
Six Keys to Exceptional Experiences at the Employee Support Level
In another recent industry article, the author described how “…mobility customers are on a journey, in which a series of moments are strung together to create an overall experience…”2 That’s the same principle Shane Smith told us about when he described the concept of “Moments that Matter” in an employee’s work environment.
What are the relocation Moments that Matter that differentiate an Exceptional Employee Experience from an “okay” employee experience? We continually compare notes with and learn from our global service providers and consultants so that we can advise on and make improvements to this journey. They’ve told us about additional elements they’ve seen first-hand that make or break an exceptional relocation experience. As you’ll see, some carry over from the programme-level priorities.
- Taking Care of the Family – The typical mobile employee is more concerned with the comfort, safety and happiness of their partner and dependents than themselves. Consultants and service providers should look for opportunities to deliver moments that matter to family members as well – whether in the form of services and service levels or through a heightened level of communication and coordination.
- Empathy – In a relocation experience, empathy is when a mobility manager or service provider stops, listens, acknowledges and shows genuine concern for an employee’s situation. Their story may not be new to the service provider, but during this life-changing time for the employee, it’s important to tune in to their feelings and concerns, help understand and validate them and act on them appropriately as an employee advocate.
- Anticipation – Nothing says “service” like solving problems or addressing routine matters before they emerge, or before the employee is even aware of them. This adds to their feeling that “someone’s caring deeply for me”.
- Going Above and Beyond – Mobile employees may take certain things for granted but they’ll always notice and appreciate the unexpected extras. “We were able to upgrade/expedite/save…” are music to your employees’ ears.
- Going WAY Above and Beyond – In times of unexpected upheaval (e.g. political unrest, pandemic or natural disasters), service providers time and again step up and become real heroes to your mobile talent. Those are truly exceptional, memorable experiences.
- Empowerment – Empowerment should extend all the way to the service delivery level. “Yes, we can do that…” is what the employee wants to hear – but balancing that with clear, realistic expectations is key.
Your mobile employees do their best to understand relocation policies and programmes. What really resonates with them, though, are not the words, but the actions people take and the empathy they show that make the journey exceptional.
Putting it all together
People are your competitive advantage. You value your employees, so be sure to let them feel that and bask in it. A well-planned, individualised Mobility Programme is one place that you can project that level of care. If everyone on your team is tuned in and focused on understanding clearly what the needs of your employees are, it will show how deeply you care about their positive outcomes and how tireless you are in helping them grow to achieve their personal and career goals. You’ll also be able to create programmes and policies that meet their individualised needs and provide services with your partners that deliver and delight!
It’s a big challenge and responsibility, but when everything comes together, you’ll see how your “Pursuit of Exceptional” really is achievable.
There’s a lot to consider when building a programme that’s focused on your employees’ experiences. Read more about Graebel’s personalised approach to providing Exceptional Employee Experiences and contact us for more details.
1Heineck, Jill. “The Rx for CX? Relocation and the Customer Experience,” Mobility, Dec. 2019, p. 54.
2Sterling, Chad. “Is ‘Extremely Satisfied’ Really Just OK?,” Mobility, Jan. 2020, p. 41.