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Welcome Aboard! 7 Tips for Building CX into New Employee Onboarding

The first days and weeks are so critical when it comes to employee engagement and helping the employees buy in to the mission of their new company. Imagine the employee that shows up to a new job, is ushered to an office where they sit alone for hours poring over paperwork, waits a week for IT to set them up with a computer, and goes hours without meaningful human interaction with colleagues. Is that a job you’d likely remain for the long haul? What does this say about that company? What about the way the company treats its customers?

Coming off a recent onboarding experience myself, I was pleased that it was nothing like the one I just described. Given that new employee onboarding is a critical time in the life of an employee, I challenged the CX Accelerator community to share two to three things their companies are doing right now, or need to do better in the future, to ensure that new employees are bought in to supporting customer experience (CX) efforts. Here are 7 tips things we came up with:

1. Create a CX journey for your employees
The best success with onboarding happens with careful planning and thought about the steps required for new employees to be successful. Dennis Wakabayashi gives us a window into the new employee journey at his company:

"We have a CX journey for employees at our office that takes them through the onboarding process. That process includes several training steps starting with the basics and takes them through CX maturity strategy and practices over their first 18 months."

2. Make CX mandatory, not optional right from the start

For those companies serious about a customer-centric culture, this must be introduced and ingrained from day one. Nate Brown talks about making his own shift from optional to mandatory:

"For me, I've recently shifted our way of thinking about CX as an optional program, to one that’s an essential part of our culture. In the onboarding phase, I'm being more direct about how we honor our customers’ voice together to ensure a memorable, consistent experience. Previously it was more of a, 'here are some things you can do if you'd like.'"

3. Immediately begin listening to the voice of the customer

Is there a better way to improve CX than to listen to the voice of the customer? During the onboarding process, Nate Brown is clear to new employees on the importance of listening to customers and what to do with that feedback so it’s not lost:

"Any time an employee receives meaningful customer feedback (positive or negative) it is my explicit expectation that we take the time to capture that feedback as part of our voice of customer program. Failure to do so is disrespecting the customer and the business."

4. Encourage new employees to be customers

Adding new employees to an organization is a great way to gain new insight and innovation. Wide-eyed and brand new to the organization, it’s important that new employees behave like customers and share feedback about the company as they experience it. Lyndon File shared his perspective on this:

"I challenge everyone in the company to take on the thinking of a consumer, and apply it to our company. I assure them that the CX team has many more questions than answers, so getting more eyes on what we do and how we do it is key. Along with getting potential solutions to these questions we gain keen stakeholders along the way!"

5. Communicate a culture of openness

Building off the last point, it can be easy for organizations to become ingrown with a “that’s how we’ve always done it” mentality and quickly ignore or reject feedback from new employees. That’s why this advice from Erica Marois is so important:

"One thing that I think is important is communicating and demonstrating a culture of openness — one that values and encourages employees to share feedback. That begins at onboarding, but must be reinforced daily. Each of us tends to develop blind spots in our day to day roles. There's a ton of value in getting perspective from outsiders — whether they're new to the company or work outside of CX."

6. Feel the passion for CX from top leaders

The success of CX initiatives in organizations hinges so much on buy in from top executives who don’t just pay lip service to it, but who actually put the concepts into practice. Brittany Naylor shares about her recent onboarding experience:

"I got to meet with every leader of each team at the company and discuss how their teams impact the customer support team. It was a really cool experience from both sides of the conversation aligning the efforts, but also acknowledging that not just CX teams have a role to play in the customer journey."

7. Create more CX professionals

Who says there only needs to be one CX person or one CX team at an organization? If we’re doing it right, we are creating companies full of employees focused on CX. Bill Staikos makes it official with his new employees:

"We're doing a lot of journey-based exercises with our new hire onboarding process. Our program includes multiple courses where, after completion, the employee gets a Certificate of Customer Excellence. We are refining it to focus more on Design Thinking with badges (like IBM's model) for ongoing coursework."


To conclude, these are fantastic ideas that will both improve your employee onboarding experience and build a culture where new employees are valued and expected to focus on the customer.

Is there anything you would add to our list? Leave us a comment. Or better yet, join the CX Accelerator Slack community and share your thoughts!

Jeremy Watkin is a contact center veteran turned CX leader. He is an avid learner, and is constantly giving back to the CX and Customer Service community through his writings. You can see his work featured on Customer Think, Customer Service Life, and now CX Accelerator!

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