Teamwork makes the dream work

What bees can teach us about teamwork and co-operation

We all know businesses are more successful when they focus on their customers and put them at the heart of all they do.  There are different ways of doing that, from offering products or services that customers want to buy, to ensuring a seamless customer journey and fast resolution of any issues.  True customer focus means operational efficiency: teamwork and co-operation to provide a positive customer experience.

So where do bees come in?

I recently read an interesting article about honeybees describing how they work together to survive high winds when the queen bee leaves the hive.

Working together can certainly help a group of individuals weather a storm.  This isn’t just an important lesson for humans, it’s also precisely how honeybees survive bad weather and protect the queen.  As they cluster into a hanging hive, they begin to behave like a single superorganism.

These hanging hives are vulnerable, yet they sometimes manage to hang on for days on end.  To find out how they do this, researchers tracked the movement of individual bees during side-to-side shaking.  They discovered that bees moved from where the stress was lowest (at the bottom of the colony) towards where the stress was greatest (the top of the colony).  As individual bees moved toward a position of higher stress, the average stress on each bee in the whole colony decreased as a result, even though for some bees, that meant taking on more stress than they’d had at the outset.

In other words, altruism and teamwork guarantee success.

This is also the case for businesses.  Metaphorical high winds can leave a business vulnerable with a negative impact on customer experience.  Teamwork and co-operation, not only within customer facing staff teams but across the entire business, is key.

How do we know that our business is doing this?

By asking staff.  Do they feel they are listened to when offering views on how to improve customer experience?  Are the tools and support in place to help achieve this?  Do they work together as a team?

Many companies do customer satisfaction research and may even link this to employee satisfaction and engagement.  A link that is often missed is how different divisions within businesses support and work with each other.  Businesses that don’t work well together can become siloed and won’t achieve their customer centric potential.  (See our article on The Fundamentals of Customer Experience Management.)

At Beehive Research, we have recommended and have helped companies assess their teamwork and operational efficiency: how successful they are at working together across teams, departments and divisions.  Identifying gaps between needs and expectations and support received helps prioritise where improvements need to be made and making the next step to improved customer focus.

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