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Tie talent analytics to customer metrics to boost sales

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Echo Global Logistics uses analytics to correlate customer satisfaction with the employee experience and boost performance on both sides of the sales and service equation.

LAS VEGAS -- One of the most potentially lucrative applications of talent analytics ties it closely to customer satisfaction. The idea is that if talent analytics can help keep customer-facing employees happier or identify potential hires with the best temperaments and skills for sales and customer service, revenue can increase as a direct result.

Cheryl Johnson, chief human resources officer of Echo Global Logistics, a Chicago-based third-party logistics provider, has used talent analytics in just this way to recruit and develop the company's sales force, which numbers approximately 1,600 employees. She described her experiences with talent analytics in a podcast from the 20th annual HR Technology Conference & Exposition.

Cheryl JohnsonCheryl Johnson

"They're a group of employees who do very similar work," Johnson said. "So the more we can actually understand about best practices and things that impact productivity, the more effective we can be at actually driving the revenue of the company."

Applying talent analytics to employee engagement data is central to the effort. Johnson explained how the company's HighGround employee engagement platform collects data both internally and from customers. "Within that system, customers can give feedback to employees. They can rate the company; they can rate the employee," she said. "We can collect all this information, and we can actually connect that directly to seeing if there [are] any risk factors with the customer."

Linking customer experience data to employee metrics is "relatively new," Johnson said. "If you think about it, marketing has always been the one who had customer information [and] customer sentiment. But it was rare that that customer sentiment was directly tied to an actual employee."

The company also uses talent analytics, which is also called people analytics, to better manage the common talent management functions of recruitment, retention, development and performance management. "We look at every possible metric that we can look at to make sure that we have the ability to do some predictive analytics for the business -- understanding who's the best hire, who [has] the best profile, what are the factors that might make someone more successful or not successful," Johnson said. "We have a lot of data."

Certain metrics gleaned from talent analytics are particularly useful, such as turnover and retention by department and region, according to Johnson. The company also collects data on who is using the HighGround platform and how much they're using it, which Johnson said can be better indicators than the numbers from employee engagement surveys.

For example, there might be evidence that a manager isn't using the HighGround system and sales data that shows the same group is missing its goals. The manager's underuse of the employee engagement platform could be causing employee turnover, which, in turn, hurts sales performance. "Now, instead of just having one piece of data … you have all these different pieces of data where you can triangulate on it," she said.

Johnson shared advice on how to avoid getting thrown off by the amount of data available in talent analytics. "If you just look at the data, it could actually send you down the wrong rabbit hole, so it's really important to layer on what are some of the other factors that were going on before you jump to a conclusion."

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