There’s been a great deal of focus on customer experience in recent years, and rightly so. Smart CX strategies are helping to transform businesses and unlock their true potential.
As the science of customer experience continues to grow in sophistication, companies of all shapes and sizes have been reevaluating their strategies.
This isn’t just about priorities or values: it’s about the systems that ensure your business delivers an outstanding experience for your customer at every stage of their journey.
However, it’s absolutely vital to remember that customer experience does not exist in isolation, as some offshoot of HR. In fact, it’s about bringing all aspects of the business together to re-orientate their efforts around what is good for the customer.
For that reason, employee experience is absolutely integral to customer experience.
Head out of the Cubicle
Unfortunately, a lot of employees still approach their work in a compartmentalised fashion: I must do this task and make the number go in the right direction.
They don’t always see the bigger picture, and that’s not their fault. Most of the time, they’ve been trained to focus on a specific metric, and they consider their job to be hitting those targets.
Once a company decides to move towards customer-centricity, however, one thing becomes clear: your employees are your greatest asset, and the key to realising any CX strategy.
This is just common sense: staff that are motivated, empowered and happy with their jobs can become your brand ambassadors.
On the other hand, if you treat your employees like numbers, don’t be surprised when they act like robots.
Empowering your staff and creating great employee experience sounds good in theory, but what is the evidence backing up the link between CX and EX?
A Gallup poll offers a striking statistic: companies with highly engaged employees outperform competitors by 147%
And research from the McKinsey Global Institute suggests that productivity in organisations with connected employees tends to improve by 20-25%.
Summing up the research on this issue, Richard Mosley says the EX/CX link is ‘further reinforced by the numerous studies that have identified a strong correlation between satisfied employees, satisfied customers and positive business results, generally referred to as the service profit chain.’
Who Does it Best?
Some businesses have understood this principle for a long time, and they’ve spent years enabling their employees to make decisions for the benefit of the customer.
Richard Branson was an early adherent. He famously said: ‘if you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.’
But who else delivers outstanding customer experience as a result of a contented, proactive workforce?
Let’s take a look.
This Finnish company produces mobile video games, and generates over $2 billion in sales a year despite having just over 200 employees.
The secret to this success, according to CEO Ilkka Paananen, is allowing each team a great deal of autonomy, thereby developing their own decision-making skills. Paananen says his goal is ‘ to be the world’s least powerful CEO. What I mean by this is that the fewer decisions I make, the more the teams are making. In a dream scenario that means the team is making all the decisions.’
A global leader in CRM and other software, Salesforce have created a loyal and passionate workplace culture.
Jody Kohner, Senior Vice President of Employee Marketing and Engagement, has shared some pearls of wisdom about how employee experience is great for business.
Beyond the product or service on offer, Kohner is convinced that customers ‘didn’t really care what else was out there; they wanted the energy of our people brought to their company.’
When it comes to Salesforce’s success, Kohner says: ‘we don’t take it for granted. We write it down, we prioritise it, measure it and hold ourselves accountable for it. We’ve found if everyone is aligned, we have 30,000 champions of this culture and it fuels itself.’
One of the UK’s leading foodservice providers, Bidfood were the Overall Winners at last year’s UK Employee Experience Awards.
The first main reason for this was their ability to spread values through the organisation effectively. Bidfood streamlined their in-house values into the catchy expression – Care, Share, Dare – which they integrated into all training materials. This enabled them to spread these empowering ideas through the company.
As part of this, employees were encouraged to share their ideas with management, with over 10% of the workforce taking part. Every suggestion was taken forward in some way, and Bidfood have said this helped them stay ahead of their five-year financial plan.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
What do these businesses have in common?
They all realise that there’s no inherent tension between treating employees well and getting fantastic business results. In fact, your employees are the ones who will help you reach those goals.
All these companies have clear sets of values which employees are acutely aware of, and enhance their decision making by having engaged staff members who believe in the business and want to share ideas to improve it. In short, they treat employee and customer experience as two sides of the same coin.
In the current business climate, customer experience is the best differentiation between brands; people are most likely to remember how an interaction with a business made them feel, and decide about repeat business based on that.
To succeed, you need people on the front-line who make your customers feel great. And the employees that can do this are the ones that feel valued, motivated and whose companies respect and act on their ideas.
If you have an inspiring customer or employee experience initiative that deserves recognition, enter the UK Customer Experience Awards now!