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Why investing in employee experience will improve customer experience

Improving customer experience (CX) is high on the list of priorities of clever companies that know a positive CX contributes to more loyal customers and higher revenues. So why does employee experience matter?

Delivering the experiences that matter inevitably requires capitalising on technology. Integrated, cloud-based tools are a must for companies to be able to meet customer expectations in an ‘always-on’ digital economy where smartphones are ubiquitous. 

Research shows customers expect effortless digital interactions. They also want to be able to engage with (and get satisfaction from) brands and service providers across multiple channels in real time. This digital transformation imperative has many companies rushing to find and implement systems that let them focus squarely on the customer. 

But rethinking how you deliver a great CX might require stepping back to consider how operational systems support your team.

It’s important to recognise that your organisation’s capacity to engage customers is closely linked to how engaged your employees are. Your approach to CX must dovetail with efforts to enhance the employee experience too.

What exactly is employee experience and why does it matter?

The desire to build a better workplace means that business leaders are increasingly focusing on the experience of their employees. 

How well you can understand and meet employees’ needs throughout their tenure contributes to the employee experience (EX). Just like customer experience, EX isn’t defined by isolated events—which also means it can’t be improved by one interaction or a one-off wellbeing program.

McKinsey defines EX as ‘personalised, authentic experiences that ignite passion and tap into purpose to strengthen individual, team and company performance.” An example: tackling barriers that get in the way of accomplishing work, such as pointless meetings, to allow people to spend more time on things that matter. 

Attracting and keeping the best talent may depend on the quality of your company’s EX, especially in industries where candidates have a choice of employer. 

Creating a workplace that inspires and supports employees is also key to a healthy bottom line. A great EX reduces your turnover and recruitment costs and leads to more productive workers who are more likely to go ‘above and beyond’.

Why are engaged employees vital for a better customer experience?

Happy and empowered staff make an impact on CX. After all, employees are the people who carry out processes and do the work that determines whether your company’s purpose and strategic goals are realised. 

Obviously, employees also communicate directly with people across hundreds of touch points and interactions that shape customers’ perception of your brand.

How do you influence how employees feel so they show up for your customers? Linking EX and CX requires leadership. 

A 2019 report by Temkin Group about the state of customer experience management efforts found that 72% of CX professionals surveyed believed it was important to improve employee experience at the same time as improving customer experience.

Temkin Group’s analysis of companies’ CX maturity compared to their employee experience was also revealing: companies delivering an excellent customer experience were five times more likely to achieve ‘good’ or ‘very good’ employee engagement ratings. 

Those leading the way in CX through coordinated, digital experiences driven by an empathetic culture and senior executive support also outperform CX laggards when it comes to behaviours such as: 

  • Celebrating employees who exemplify core values 
  • Asking for and acting on employee feedback
  • Evaluating managers based on employee engagement
  • Involving HR in strategic initiatives
  • Providing employees with industry-leading training

Customer experience and operations executives looking to improve CX should also reflect on how transforming systems will affect the productivity, capabilities, and motivation of their team.

Technology choices contribute significantly to the employee experience 

EX expert Jacob Morgan says organisations need to take employee-centric approaches in relation to their culture, technology, and physical spaces. All three must work together to create a meaningful experience for staff.

Morgan argues, “You can’t focus on digital transformation or collaboration from a purely technology standpoint if the physical space (and culture) doesn’t emulate the behaviour you’re trying to encourage.” 

However, investing in the right kind of tools augments other efforts to foster a more responsive and collaborative workplace culture. Contemporary, user-friendly tools can reduce employee frustration and stress by making processes easier, more consistent and less prone to double handling and error.

One study of just over 1,000 US workers found that for 92% of employees, having the right technology affected their job satisfaction and one in three said they’d contemplate leaving if their employer used outdated software.

By considering the employee perspective before investing in technologies designed to boost CX, you can also ensure the systems you embrace are leveraged to their full extent. 

Intuitive interfaces and software that genuinely increase efficiency, productivity, quality, and autonomy for workers—such as through mobility, automation, and self-service—are more likely to gain acceptance and be used effectively. Prioritise these factors as much as price or other functional requirements.

Effective systems should also facilitate the flow of information and feedback between employees, help them understand and follow processes, and provide tailored, role-based features. The cost of poor employee communications (misunderstood policies, processes,  job function, roles, and responsibilities) was estimated at $37 billion annually in large US companies.

Empower your team to enhance your customer experience

Understanding what customers want and translating that into strategies, systems, and processes that deliver a great customer experience can’t be done without also reflecting on the experience of your employees. 

For any system you implement to truly improve CX it must also help employees work more purposefully, communicate with each other effectively, feel valued for their contribution, and feel helpful and close to their customers. 

A focus on CX that includes investing in EX will empower and energise your team so that they can deliver the best outcomes for customers and your company.  

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