Love as a B2E Strategy

EPISODE 32

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You've heard of B2B and B2C, but you've probably never heard of B2E or Business to Employee. At Softway, we create solutions that are employee-first in order to build more resilient workforces and higher performing organizations. In this week's episode, we outline why a B2E solution may just be what your company needs in order to succeed. 

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Feel the love! We aren't experts - we're practitioners. With a passion that's a mix of equal parts strategy and love, we explore the human (and fun) side of work and business every week together.

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Jeff Ma
Director

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MohProfile

Mohammad Anwar
President

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ChrisProfile

Chris Pitre
Vice President

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frank_danna

Frank Danna
Director

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Jeff Ma
Hello and welcome to Love as a Business Strategy, a podcast that brings humanity to the workplace. We're here to talk about business, but we want to tackle topics that most business leaders shy away from. We believe that humanity and love should be at the center of every successful business. I'm your host, Jeff Ma, and I'm a director at Softway, a business to employee solutions company that creates products and offers services that help build resilience and high-performing company cultures. I'm joined today by, I've rounded up the gang if you will here of Mohammad Anwar. Hello, Moh.

Mohammad Anwar
Hey, Jeff.

Jeff Ma
Chris Pitre. Hey, Chris.

Chris Pitre
Hey, Jeff. Hey, guys.

Jeff Ma
And last but not least, Frank. Danna. Hi, Frank.

Frank Danna
Hey, Jeff. Hey, Chris. Hey, Mohammad.

Chris Pitre
Hello.

Jeff Ma
Of course, each episode, we all dive into an element of business or strategy and test our theory of love against it. And today, we're recording kind of the first episode of the new year. And we want to talk about something a little personal and unique to us that we have always found important. You might have heard it in our intro in all the episodes, we call it B2E, or business to employee. And you might have heard of the terms b2c business to consumer or b2b business to business, which are commonly used terms to describe who your customers are in your business. But as software we focus a lot on B2E, and for good reason. And I wanted to take this episode to break that down, are in terms of our approach and talk about what it is and why it's important. And of course, before we dive into that, we got to do our first icebreaker of the year. And that would be a very simple we're going to try a different approach. We'll give everybody the same question. And we're gonna get we're gonna start with Frank so that others have the time to prepare. Frank. What show did you binge over the holiday break?

Frank Danna
Which show did I binge? Oh Cobra Kai. Yes, Cobra Kai.

Jeff Ma
So good. Okay, well, Chris, moving on to you. What show or shows did you binge?

Chris Pitre
I binged Stylish on HBO max with Jenna Lyons. Really weird, but it's a really interesting reality show. And then I watched the Night Manager on Amazon. And that was a really good series with no Tom Hiddleston. Like, one of Taylor Swift's ex. And just throwing that out there, they used to date. Anyway, but it was a really good show. And then I started watching Bridgerton, but I have not finished.

Jeff Ma
Heard about that one. Awesome. Mohammad, what shows did you binge?

Mohammad Anwar
It looks like Chris has to say something else.

Chris Pitre
I was gonna say like, I did revisit some old classics, like the hills from MTV. But that doesn't count because it's like, I would binge it already when it was out, then I re watched it to0.

Mohammad Anwar
I binged Homeland. Two seasons of it.

Jeff Ma
What did you think?

Mohammad Anwar
It's intense. It's very interesting and very intense. And I'm looking forward to seeing another six seasons. On your edge. It's really intense.

Frank Danna
Yeah, the flight attendant on HBO max. I was really good. Yeah, that was fun. It was definitely a nice like, escape. Yeah.

Jeff Ma
So what we've all just basically admitted to is that we just spent two weeks basically, watching shows because everyone has like a list of eight shows that we've all watched.

Mohammad Anwar
I only mentioned one.

Jeff Ma
Okay, sorry. But then when someone else says one, they're like, Oh, yeah, I watched that, too. Anyways,

Chris Pitre
Actually, I know for a fact that Mohammad started watching the Night Manager, so

Mohammad Anwar
I wasn't going to steal your thunder, Chris.

Chris Pitre
But you were saying that you're you're trying to act like this because you didn't say it. You weren't doing it. And I just wanna I want our listeners to know and feel like they have a very truthful and candid group in front of them.

Jeff Ma
So new year, new year, but not obviously not a lot has changed. We're still we're still at it. But let's dive. Let's dive into our topic today. And Mohammad, I'd like to invite you to kick us off here around just B2E at a high level, like what is B2E for the for the newcomer?

Mohammad Anwar
Sure, so most of the time, organizations out there are looking for b2c solutions, which is business to consumer and b2b solutions. So the majority of time it's its outward facing. It's like, how did they come up with solutions that can serve their customers. And our philosophy is that you have to treat your stakeholders, your internal employees, as also your customers. And so there, there isn't really a big push out there for providing solutions to organizations to serve their own employees, they may not categorize categorize it as B2E, they may offer it as another type of product to help you with your own employees. But we're being quite intentional about business to employee where we're like, no, there is a space and a need for providing solutions for your employees so that they may become more productive, and resilient and efficient and be able to ultimately do whatever it is needed for them inside of the organization to achieve their business goals. So we think there's a niche opportunity to provide solutions in that space.

Jeff Ma
Just to just everyone has that clarity, and maybe Chris, you can help with this can. Can you give an example, a simple example of b2c and b2b and then b2e just so that we can like kind of show that, that, that difference?

Chris Pitre
I guess I can take that. So from a, you know, a b2b perspective, this is typically where your customer is another business, so you're selling into a group or committee or even just a single executive. And they're procuring our service for the benefit of that business. For instance, you know, Softway has built a lot of applications for companies for their own customers to use, whether that'd be a website, whether that be an application, but us engaging that business was in a b2b context. When you are, say Target or Apple or Walmart, you are going direct to consumer or people that are purchasing for their household and personal personal needs. And then, you know, that could be anything from just what you buy off the shelf, to things that you might get, like, I just bought a Lovesac, or I didn't buy it, I was gifted a Lovesac for Christmas, right. And so that couch is a b2b or b2c sell I'm sorry. And then you know, juxtapose that with B2E, which is where we are going in, and we are helping other businesses talk and relate to and work for and create for their own employees only, not their customers, not their vendors, not their partners, unless they're considered a part of their employee base, or people that are working for the benefit of that company's outcomes or goals or initiatives. And so when we look at that, that type of sell them that would be us coming in maybe helping stand up a internal campaign, for instance, working with the cybersecurity team, where they are trying to roll out really clear initiatives or compliance requirements, you know, doing so in a creative way that gets the attention that you know, they need, but in a way that feels more engaging, somewhat entertaining, somewhat enlightening to a place where people don't even realize they're learning, because they're so engaged with the information. Those are the things that we come and do. And it helps that company meet those internal goals, those compliance needs that otherwise would have been drudgery or difficult to get across the finish line. Because, again, usually you're trying to get employees to do things they would naturally do when you are communicating internally, or you're trying to get them to understand something that's super complex. But they need to act or do something differently in order to achieve that initiative. And so coming to a B2E organization, will help you be more successful and really sort of boiling down your communication and messages into you know, everyday language or into concepts that might be easily or better received, without sacrificing the goals or you know, the metrics that you're trying to achieve.

Frank Danna
So Chris, you were talking about how, like, you know, they're, they're doing something that they probably wouldn't want to do or wouldn't normally do, it kind of feels like a lot of times inside of organizations. It's, they're asking you to do things that are tacked on to you doing your job. It's like job plus this job plus one. And oftentimes, I mean, especially for people that are even listening to this podcast, you're going, this doesn't really matter. Like, I don't really care about this as much. This is not something that is my priority right now. And so I'm just going to do it and get it done or ignore it, and face the consequences, right. So a lot of these types of internal initiatives are typically they feel like they're tacked on additions that weren't in the job description and aren't what you're getting paid for, essentially.

Chris Pitre
Yep, exactly. It's not in your day to day. And the way I look at it is it's not that they are just so sort of hell bent on not doing it is just one of those things that's not in their procedural memory. It's not something that they are prone to do. Right. And you know, when you're working in either high reliability environments like in healthcare or even in oil and gas or energy, safety is something that, you know, you you, you don't always keep it front of mine in terms of all of the small things, I could sort of balloon into major problems or issues. And so sometimes you have to call attention to those small things that people might overlook or may not even understand that, hey, that that one oversight over there can create this really big problem or a fatality, or a mistake that could cost the organization more than we are prepared to pay for. And so those small things are really what employees may need a little bit reminder or a little more attention brought to it. Because, you know, I look at it as simple as washing your hands when you're a little kid, you know, it's not something that you come out the womb knowing to do. But as you grow older parents try and instill that, like, no, it's for your benefit. Washing your hands is clean. It's not nasty, right? Like, you know, they can't talk about germs and how you get sick, right? Because most kids may not understand that. But they could do understand nasty, gross and those types of terms, right? So you speak to them, and you speak to your employees at a place where they can fully understand and grasp, you know, where they are, why it's important, but also what the benefit is that they get out of it. And sometimes that that might feel like you're calling my employees, kids, I'm like, that's not what we're saying at all. We're saying they're not in the boardroom. And they may not know the language that you know, the CFO uses, but they do understand the behaviors that are associated with that are things that they can change or should implement, and going to them in that perspective, or with that language or with that understanding makes that message that much easier to grasp and understand, okay, I know what to do with that. But if you come and say you need to improve the ROI, or you need to worry about the return on capital here, like rock is not a term that, you know, an average employee may not understand. But they can understand, hey, we really need to make sure we turn off the equipment to to elongate the life of it. Oh, okay, that's something I can do. Right. But I think that that's, that's part of what a B2E provider will do is help sort of translate those types of things into consumable messages internally.

Mohammad Anwar
So Chris, I know you're covering just one aspect of B2E, which is internal communications, and how you would communicate with employees. But if you look at some of the other categories of, you know, services, or products that can exist inside of business employee could include like technology products, or, you know, training products or training environments, experiences, anything that would serve the employee at the end of the day, to make them more effective, efficient, safe, whatever your goals might be for the employees. There could be a suite of products that could be offered inside of this B2E environment, that ultimately, your end user and the beneficiary of anything we produce out there is the employee of the organization. And at the end of the day, when you're able to give the employee the focus, and give them what they need to be more successful in their job, there is indirect benefits to the business and to their customers, and so forth. So that's kind of our approach and philosophy is start with the focus on your employees, because they are ultimately your biggest asset of your organization. And there could be a suite of solutions that we could come in, where the key objective is to make your employees more successful. And that, in turn, will have, you know, indirect success in all the other aspects of the business.

Jeff Ma
So Moh, like just to build on that a little more just to kind of get more out of you with. So in theory, like when, when a business purchases, let's say, a software from from another business that is intended to make their employees lives better, they're essentially doing a b2b transaction that is for B2E, correct? So what if you're about to answer my question, what makes B2E as a as a, you know, why do we call it B2E rather than b2b with an employee focus?

Mohammad Anwar
Got it. So to b2b with an employee focus, their priorities are to not serve the employee their priorities are to serve the business goals, business objectives. So it happens that employees are a part of that equation. So their goal with building this solution is how do you make the business more effective or make the customer satisfaction improved? How do you improve the sales cycle? How do you increase revenue? It so happens that employees have to interact with the software's to make things work, but the whole mindset around prioritizing their features are the way the systems are built or are with the focus of, you know, profit first, revenue first, customer first. So happens that yeah, the employees are stakeholders. They interact with it, they feed into it they input or get some outputs from it. But B2E is when you are prioritizing the goals of the solutions to make your employees successful; employee benefits, engagement, and productivity, right. So when you come from that lens, you're thinking employee first, when you're building a solution. Now we could build a solution that does the very exact same thing is maybe customer support, and customer support, ultimately, the customers are going to see a better customer experience from the system. So instead of thinking only about how to make the customers lives easy, let's and and the focus is how do you make this interface appealing to the customer? How do we make it easy for the customer? How do you make sure that they are having the best experience, we forget about the employee experience at the back of the system, who are interfacing all of these customer concerns through the system, and their interface sucks, and they're having to have go through loops and hoops to try and figure out how to serve this customer, you know, and that sort of software that was built from a customer lens, and not from an employee lens. But in a B2E environment, we can come in and say, hey, how do we make your customer service agents successful? Our goal is to make them successful, our goal is to make them be able to do their job easily. And if you start there and build a software platform that ultimately serves the customer, you will have far more better outcomes and better success. Because you are empowering these customer service agents, with the software to be able to serve the customers. Have you ever like seen a website where they have like all this interface things and you call their customer support line, and you're on the phone line and the customer support agents like hold on, sir, you'll have to stay on hold while I process this request for you. And they take 10 minutes to come back and tell you what happened and how it's going. They're like, sorry, sir, I still need to go talk to my supervisor, something's not working on my end, I gotta go figure this out, I'll be right back. That's an example of a system that was sold, that had a great shiny interface and, you know, customer experience, you know, put in the put into place, but ultimately, the people are running behind to make all of the things happen are struggling. That's how I see the difference. And I would rather have gone on a call with a customer service agent was able to do everything I needed right away, and be more effective and be friendly, and be nice to me and give me a good experience and get off the phone, then be put on hold for 10-20 minutes. You know, because they can't seem to be able to figure out who they need to get ahold of to fix my problem.

Chris Pitre
You know, I think it's, I think it's really important to note that when we're talking about employees, there's the comms aspect, and as Mohammad mentioned, there's the technology aspect, and there's also this sort of process and cultural aspect. And I think when it comes to making sure that your employees are fully aligned to the mission, objectives and vision of the organization. While, yes, communication does trickle in, I think that there's something to say about how culturally, you've managed to ensure that change can happen and flourish. But also that your employees feel like they belong, and they can participate, and they can bring their value and contribute to the outcomes and the vision that's been set. And, you know, we also can talk about how that side of it is just as critical as the technology and the comms and as well.

Jeff Ma
Yeah. And, and in that vein, Chris, what do you what do you say to those who say that they can handle that themselves? Right. Like, I mean, a lot of that is typically handled internally. what's the what's the benefit of, of bringing in B2E to that to that equation?

Chris Pitre
Sure. So I would say that, yes, a lot of things can be handled internally. But when it comes to critical changes, when it comes to really audacious and you know, big, you know, movements or initiatives, having that external partner who can be come in and sometimes just be a third party objective listener, that can hear the sides of everybody and bring that into an effective solution. And change strategy is important, because whether you like it or not, once you're inside, you are likely in an environment where people might see you as your function, and not necessarily as someone who is in their corner or for them. And while we might say, well, my organization isn't like that, unfortunately, it is like that in many organizations as we've experienced, and having a third party come in and be objective, but also listen to all sides of the equation and figure out a path and sit alongside you not do it for you, but set alongside you. One, there's learnings there, but two, you can rely on their objective, you know, standpoint, to get insight that you might not be pulled from otherwise, to hear truly from people and their experiences, to ensure that they are covered or incorporated or addressed when it comes to those change strategy initiatives. And if there's a sort of a big picture visioning exercise, you get to take in, you know, all sides and all perspectives. Next is the ability for third party or, you know, let's say Softway to come in, and be able to really see what the organization is missing. Unfortunately, when you are at the table in it every single day, you know, you're you're, you're in water, but you don't realize you're in water, right? You don't see the water anymore. And we get to come in and we can be like, hmm why do you guys do all like you guys say this word a lot, or you guys save this, but you do this, right? Like we we can call those things out. And it might sound silly, but it's usually the small things that confound the wise and those who like to do it internally. And being able to call out those type those types of things, leads to immense value at the end of the day, right. And we've seen that time and time again, where we've been with a customer, and we realize something, we're being of an insight about their organization that they live within, but they never thought to call out or call attention to. And using that to leverage how we communicate, or how we resonate, or how we bring people to the table is something that does end up making whatever we create that much more successful. And I think that that is those are two big reasons why I would say in certain situations, it is necessary, if not important to think about who is sitting beside you outside of your organization to ensure that you're making the most of your greatest asset, which is your employees.

Jeff Ma
Sure. So speaking about Softway, why why is this the center of our business? Why? Why do we focus on this? I'll just point it right at Mohammad, since this is your business.

Mohammad Anwar
Why? Because I believe that the people are the biggest assets of your corporation, or company, and organization, and they are ultimately responsible for taking your business forward and investment into the people has long term benefits, no matter what your business objectives are. And so trying to find the ability to offer a suite of solutions that we've learned over the course of our career, our existence, working with different customers, we have found a lot of different areas that are common denominators, between organizations that can benefit from improvement by just investing into their people, whether that's culture, you know, certain types of products, communication, internal communications, that we've seen work. And that has enabled their biggest assets to bring in better ROI. We found this compelling reason to go into B2E, and build those solutions that we know have worked, and then continue to offer this for all these customers who may not have been thinking about this or who may not have had the opportunity to be even introduced to a solution like this. So that's why I think it's important and that's why we got into this area. And I think just as we were able to identify the benefits we saw for our own business, we know it's applicable to any business. I think any business owner or executive team looking to really enhance their company's, you know, resilience and success, they could truly benefit from these B2E solutions.

Jeff Ma
Frank, I know you and you and I have had a lot of adventures in our B2E endeavors with customers and clients. Can you share, I'm putting on the spot, can you share why you, I know you have a passion for this, why do you love kind of coming to, you know, businesses and other individuals with a B2E lens?

Frank Danna
For me, it gives people an opportunity to see themselves in a different light, and to see their company and organization in a different light. And for companies that haven't necessarily focused on on the humanizing side of the the people that they surround themselves with. It's really nice for folks to actually go through some of the different services and products that we offer and actually see themselves as humans. And that, to me, brings me the most joy. You know, we and it's interesting too, when we talk about B2E, we've we've done work in the internal communication space that's actually led to, you know, a spill over into better culture. And one example I can think of is when we have helped humanize leaders. And you know, we've, we had this idea to I think, Chris was your idea actually originally, to, to take some time to interview leadership. And we're talking about like VPS, or people that are high up enough in large organizations that, you know, folks had rumors about whether or not they had kids, because they just didn't know the leaders. And they're like, I don't know, if they have children, maybe they do, who knows who they are, right. And we recognize that this could be an interesting opportunity to to connect people more to their senior leadership. And so we ended up creating this, this very simple approach, where we just took the time as an external team, to learn a little bit about the leaders and ask them questions and have conversations with them that had absolutely nothing to do with work. At one point in time, I ate my favorite Ben and Jerry's flavor, which is Chunky Monkey with another VP, and we just sat there and ate ice cream together and talked about how his kids went to certain schools, and he's passionate about this type of music. And, and, and what we started to see, and it is very simple thing you may hear and be like, why is that? Even? Why does it even matter. But folks would stop them in the halls and say, Hey, I heard you like Game of Thrones, because I saw that, I love Game of Thrones also. And they'd be able to create these human connections. And so it's I know, it's a very small example. But it tangibly showed me at least and the reason why I enjoy this so much, is that when you're able to create an opportunity, where you focus on the employee, and you create experiences for employees to learn about themselves and each other, it creates this magical moment where people start to see themselves a little bit more in common than they had once thought they were. And and I think B2E is that type of offering for people and creates that type of experience, through our technology products, or through our training environments, or solutions, or, you know, some of the internal comms opportunities that we have it, it brings humanity to the workplace.

Chris Pitre
Yeah. And I think it's really important as we talk about this space is to think about the importance of investing in your employees really does have bottom line benefits. And so when we think about what actually is reflected on our balance sheets in business, it really is the behaviors of your employees. That's it. So when we think about, you know, ROI, EBITDA, all those things, I promise you, if you dig deep enough, you can trace every number on that balance sheet to a behavior that someone is or is not doing. And so if you really want to see your behaviors and your organization improve, you do have to think about your employees. And it can't be a chastisement. It can't be this, you know, finger wagging things that you need to do better, because it's not what's going to motivate adults, we know that adults do not respond to things that are patronizing or condescending, right. And so you have to think about ways to influence behavior, which is a bigger ask of leaders and of managers and decision makers, because you have to think about how can I influence people to do better do different, do what's compliant, or do what's going to get us out of trouble, whatever the case may be. And that is where investing in something like this allows for you to not only have that success when it comes to your numbers, but you want to have sustained success, which is what is resilience, right? Where no matter what changes around you, within you, you are able to overcome because people understand that behaviors are always going to be the thing that gets us out of trouble or keeps us out of trouble, right. And if you have a commitment to your employees in that regard, you know, you might send them to conferences, you might send pay to send them to other learning experiences. But if you're not paying to have a culture where one people know and understand what's expected of them behaviorally, but two there's a feeling of belonging and of contribution, because my difference are what I bring to the table isn't ridiculed, if I don't do it the same way you do. But it's instead appreciated, and you find ways to still incorporate me into the process of working in this organization. And those are the things that businesses ultimately want. But many times we stick to, I don't want to invest in that, because I don't know what the benefit is, I don't know what I'm gonna get out of that. Like that's not a tool. It's not a widget. I can't put my hands on a better performing employee. But yet, when we look at our balance sheet, that's all we have to really make those numbers work.

Frank Danna
That's good.

Jeff Ma
I love it. So this was a great opportunity to kind of share our passion points and like what our business does, and the hope was that kind of talking this out because when we walk into a room with really anybody and everybody, it's it there's always this this shock and surprise and even delight factor of what where our conversations go right? People are always surprised like, wait, what, why are you talking about that? Aren't we talking about revenue? We're like, No, no, we're talking about your people. And then there's this wonderful moment that we can help people realize a lot of times what B2E really looks and feels like and the benefits and so hopefully this this talk here helped our listeners also understand why we're in this business why it's important and kind of why this space is is really where love as a business strategy lives and and all that. So I want to appreciate Chris, Moh, Frank for this great chat. Looking forward to 2021. And, you know more and more podcasts together. It's been It was fun last year and really, really ready to make a lot more. So thank you guys for joining this new year.

Mohammad Anwar
Thank you, Jeff.

Jeff Ma
Yeah, and at Love as a Business Strategy. We are still posting episodes every Tuesday for your enjoyment and if you like what you heard, please do stop by and give us some feedback and check us out at softway.com/LAABS and do consider giving us that five star review or some or review on Apple, Spotify, etc. And with that, we will see you guys next week. Catch you later.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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