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7 Min Read

Elevating client intimacy through associate development

February 15, 2024 / Mike Thomson

Short on time? Read the key takeaways:

  • Investing in the growth and satisfaction of associates is crucial for improving client intimacy and business success.
  • Fostering a positive workplace culture and providing clear career paths enhances employee engagement, directly impacting client satisfaction.
  • Offering diverse career paths and holistic training opportunities aligns associate goals with organizational needs, benefiting both.
  • Recognition that workforce advancement and empowerment is a strategic approach to enhance overall client satisfaction and business performance.

Part one of a three-part associate development series. Read part two.

Business leaders around the world should be united in a singular pursuit: enhancing experience and boosting client satisfaction. This pursuit is vital, a cornerstone of business excellence. Yet, the most effective strategies are often those that initially seem counterintuitive.

As COO of Unisys, my role spans serving our clients, boosting workforce productivity, streamlining operations, and ensuring global process accountability. In all these areas, our associates are the key. Their crucial role in our business success drives my dedication to associate development. Our journey at Unisys, rich with experiences and insights, offers valuable lessons for leaders everywhere.

Taking a client-centric approach

Unisys is known for how it cares for its clients, which directly reflects how we treat our associates. A happy associate naturally extends that positivity to client interactions. Reflecting on our 150-year history, I think of all the clients we’ve served and the associates who have served them. High regard for our associates is a consistent theme that emerges in client feedback and is evident in our renewal rate and NPS scores.

At Unisys, we're committed to a multi-faceted strategy for associate development that's deeply intertwined with our mission to enhance client intimacy. That means going beyond our contractual obligations to build lasting, trust-based relationships where we anticipate and cater to our clients’ evolving needs. This strategy is our North Star, designed to impart skills but also foster a mindset of innovation and adaptability.

How associate satisfaction leads to client success

The path to elevating client satisfaction is intrinsically linked to how we develop and empower our associates. This understanding, which underscores the symbiotic relationship between internal practices and external success, fundamentally shapes our approach to leadership and client service.

Understanding the impact of our associates on client engagement, I am driven to seek ways to improve their experience. As a problem-solving strategy, I like to go upstream and start at the headwater. This means returning to the root of the issue, being pragmatic about process engineering, and examining how workplace culture influences client engagement. This involves ensuring our associates have a clear understanding of:

  • Where they fit in the organization
  • Where they want to be from a career path point of view
  • How training can help them along their journey
  • Where the next assignment and the hot assignments are
  • How Unisys can enable tools and techniques to create a dynamic workplace with our associates at the center

Investing in associate development

Caring for our associates' career aspirations isn't just good HR; it's smart business. At Unisys, we provide opportunities for our associates to diversify their career paths. Whether our associates want to climb the leadership ladder, become technical gurus, or excel in project management, we're implementing systems to help make this happen.

We've embraced diverse career pathing, offering our associates various trajectories that align with their personal and professional goals. It’s important to recognize that not everyone seeks career advancement. Some people find fulfillment early on in their careers and see focusing on advancement as stressful. Companies and clients need people who are happy to be a dependable part of their team. We need to provide enough latitude in our planning process, our structure and training, and our career pathing to meet our associates' expectations wherever they are on the journey.

This approach is bolstered by building a supportive work culture that values feedback, celebrates achievements, and tackles challenges collaboratively. Each of these strategies is tailored to ensure that when our associates interact with clients, they bring expertise and a proactive, solution-oriented attitude that sets us apart.

Lessons for global leaders

Every leader seeks to unlock the potential within their organization. At Unisys, our journey of empowering associates offers insights that I believe resonate with leaders striving for similar goals in diverse sectors. The first step is recognizing that empowering your workforce is a strategic tool for enhancing client satisfaction. Investing in holistic training, offering diverse career paths, and cultivating a supportive culture can significantly improve team morale and performance, ultimately enhancing client relations.

Prioritizing associate growth and satisfaction impacts culture and pays dividends in improving client relationships and outcomes. When leaders adopt a shared philosophy to support this mindset and deploy targeted strategies, they can build a foundation to make a tangible impact both within the organization and in the broader context of client engagements. This is a roadmap any organization can follow to transform client satisfaction metrics, all by focusing on what truly powers a company – its people.

Unisys is a global technology solutions company that powers breakthroughs for the world’s leading organizations. Our solutions – cloud, data and AI, digital workplace, logistics and enterprise computing – help our clients challenge the status quo and unlock their full potential. Learn how we have been helping clients push what’s possible for 150 years.

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