Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Originally posted on ICMI.com November 5th, 2018
People love to talk about Employee Experience (EX), especially in the context of Customer Experience (CX).
Sadly, it's often just talk. Establishing a meaningful connection between your employee experience and the Customer Experience is very difficult. Does this make it any less important? Not at all. Attempting to "fix" the Customer Experience without developing a favorable employee journey is like building a glass cathedral with nothing inside. It may look nice from the street, but it's just an empty, shallow front. At the first sign of stress, the whole initiative will shatter to the ground.
It boils down to a simple fact. We cannot take good care of customers unless we take good care of one another. We amended our service vision to reflect this reality. "Supporting our customers and each other in a manner that is effortless, accurate, and friendly." Our capacity to serve customers is expanded exponentially when we have the authentic support of a team around us.
So how can we move beyond the hypothetical, and actually make the EX / CX connection? Generally, the organizational functions are responsible for these two experiences have a wall between them. As an example, I have yet to see a Customer Experience group were HR played a significant role. If you consider the goals and objectives of each group, there is a significant overlap. Let's explore the metrics, processes, and culture capable of fostering both happy customers and happy employees.
I have an easy formula for you. It's not "mathematically sound" per se, but the logic is irrefutable. If EX is the foundation of CX, and CX is the primary competitive differentiator to generate revenue, then at some level EX = CX = Revenue. We know in our hearts that by investing in our people, we are earning the right to grow our businesses. But how can we prove this beyond reproach and get the money we need to drive change? The first step is to have a measure of the employee experience…one that will give us the ability to show the true correlation between EX and CX. Here are two proven employee engagement metrics to consider:
1) Employee Engagement Score Using Pulse Surveys
We have been using the completely free version of OfficeVibe (pictured below) for a few months now, and it's just fantastic. It will establish for you not just an overall engagement score, but sub-scores in 10 key areas of the employee experience. We've never had such tangible insight into the hearts and minds of our employees. OfficeVibe is not the only way to do this, but I'd highly recommend going with a pulse survey tool. The real-time, actionable data generated will run laps around any traditional yearly employee survey.
In addition to surveys and reports, the anonymous feedback portal within OfficeVibe works great as a Voice of The Employee (VoE) tool. You may think you don't need the ability for your employees to converse over an anonymous feedback channel, but trust me, you do. I can hardly believe the quality and quantity of information we've seen through this effort. It doesn't have to be the tool I've recommended above, but there should be a dedicated channel for employee voice.
2) Total Motivation Score
The best resource I've seen this year on the topic of Employee Experience is a book called "Primed to Perform" by Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor. The authors introduce both a methodology and a metric ultimately answering the question "why do people work?" By unpacking the motivators present in your workplace, it will reveal both your level of overall engagement and the true nature of that engagement. The objective is to foster the positive intrinsic motivators while reducing the negative stress-inducing motivators. While it may take time to change the culture, this is an established path to improving both the employee and the customer experience. Find out more in this ICMI article, "The Top Three Motivators for Any Generation."
Whether you choose TOMO, pulse survey engagement scores, or something else entirely…be sure to include at least one EX metric on your Customer Experience dashboards. Utilizing trend lines to show the actual correlation between EX and CX will place you way ahead of the game.
Once the EX / CX metric baseline is established, it's time to dig in and make some changes. As a general principle, it is wise to tap into the change methodology already in place within your organization. There will be less resistance if you can tap into a known framework for execution. Some examples would include Lean / Six Sigma, ITIL, Value Stream Mapping, and Agile. From an EX perspective, this will ensure the greatest number of people can assist with the change effort. Many hands make light work, as they say.
The single best way to improve both EX and CX is to improve the flow of knowledge across the company. When critical knowledge becomes sequestered inside of different organizational pockets, the result is one of the most universally frustrating behaviors of all time…emailing a whole bunch of people and waiting all day or even days for simple information. Not only does this burn out your employees, but it is the customer who typically ends up waiting the longest for answers.
Conversely, when knowledge flows freely using a methodology such as KCS or Knowledge Centered Support, it powers self-service channels, saves employees countless hours, and breathes life into everyday work. Bonus for all the AI-lovers out there: a well-curated knowledge base is the foundation on which Artificial Intelligence rests. If the bot is what you seek, the knowledge base you must tweak... Holy Toledo, I'm tweeting that one right now. 😆
Time for the most crucial element, culture. My favorite definition is simply "the way we do things." At its core, changes to both EX and CX are culture changes. There is no shortcut when creating an organization capable of delivering a positive human-to-human interaction across every touch point. It can only be done when all employees are part of a purpose-driven culture, hence mirroring their experience to the customer.
The most crucial stage is hiring and on-boarding. Consider how difficult it is to change the behaviors and motivations of tenured employees. There may be some people who are on the fence and just need a nudge, but this is likely a small percentage. The best brands attract new hires who are already demonstrating the organizational values. This is where a partnership between CX and HR can have a massive impact. Work together to bring people in the company who will naturally align with your culture. It may take longer to fill some roles, but in my experience, it's well worth the wait.
These are just a handful of principles that demonstrate the symbiotic relationship between EX and CX. While much more could be written on the topic, I hope this will help to challenge you down a positive path. Don't hesitate to reach out if I can help with anything or just to brainstorm on a CX / EX strategy!
Nate Brown is the co-founder of CX Accelerator. While customer service is his primary expertise, Nate is able to leverage experience in professional services, marketing, and sales to connect the dots and solve the big problems. From authoring and leading a customer experience program, to journey mapping, to managing a complex contact center, Nate is always learning new things and sharing with the CX community. Follow on Twitter - @CustomerIsFirst or LinkedIn.