Want to provide a superior customer experience? Start with a superior employee experience

Happy employees = happy customers

Unhappy employees = happy competitors

It’s that simple. As a consumer, you can almost instinctively feel it when a business is a poor place to work. You may sense apathy, resignation, or frustration from the people you deal with, whether they are customer service representatives, salespeople, or service technicians. Sometimes they even let you know outright. But even when the signals are subtle, the feeling you get is it’s a lousy place to work, and therefore automatically lower your expectations of service and quality.

Low expectations for service and quality are what drive businesses out of business.

In today’s digital economy, in which many things have become commodities available through online channels, customer experience has become the defining differentiator. A survey of 522 IT professionals by Mendix, for his part, however, shows that few organizations are getting the right CX – 90% say they struggle to do so, with the two most common obstacles being cybersecurity (49%) and data integration (42%). Twenty-eight percent say they are bothered by CX silos (28%) that prevent cross-team collaboration and hinder the effective use of data. Meanwhile, customers are frustrated with long waits or response times (28%) and unresolved issues (27%).

So what is the root of a superior customer experience? It’s a natural extension of the employee experience. Again, miserable employees will lead to miserable customers. Equipping employees with difficult-to-use or clunky technology is a surefire way to lower morale. Allowing a moribund corporate culture also makes the employee experience miserable.

Although it is increasingly recognized that the employee experience is essential to delivering a superior customer experience, this is not a new revelation. Tom Peters, in his various works of In search of excellence (published 40 years ago, in 1982) to its most recent The Excellence Dividend: Responding to the Tech Tide with Work that Wows and Jobs that Last (2018) recognized that great companies are built on energizing and fair corporate cultures that are customer obsessed, but also equally obsessed with the employee who can deliver the wow factor to the customer.

We now have data to back up that claim, thanks to a new survey of 4,100 executives released by Salesforce. “Employees are now the most important stakeholder for long-term success and expect the same level of ease and convenience in their experiences as customers do,” according to Salesforce’s Tiffani Bova, a key contributor to the study. Employee experience is a major issue for the future of work, and new data shows that a unified customer and employee experience is a winning growth strategy that can increase revenue by up to 50%.

It has long been assumed that there is a direct link between employee experience, customer experience and revenue growth. However, the evidence has been anecdotal or obscured in noisy enterprise-level data.

For starters, when forced to choose, CX comes out on top, according to the survey. About six in 10 employees (63%) and C-suite members (57%) think customer experience is more important to business success than employee experience. And it’s do not a good thing, say the authors of the study. Still, there are signs of enlightenment underway – more than half of C-suite executives believe that a good employee experience will lead to good CX.

There needs to be even more clarification, with a gaping disconnect between the perception of the C-suite and the employee experience. Seven in ten C-suite leaders (71%) say their employees feel engaged in their jobs, when in fact, only 51% of employees say this is the case. More tellingly, 70% of leaders say their employees are happy, while only 44% of employees say they are happy.

This disconnect hurts employee experience, customer experience, and ultimately growth, the Salesforce study warns. For example, 74% of senior executives say no one in their company really has the employee experience. Only one in three companies can claim to excel in creating a seamless EX-CX experience.

As the Mendix study referenced above shows, outdated technologies and siled data strategies compound the misalignment between employees and the C-suite. A majority of C-suite members (52%) believe their technology works effectively, compared to only 32% of employees.

Here’s a revelation: the majority of senior executives (73%) surveyed in the Salesforce survey say they don’t know how to use their company’s employee data to drive change. “The future of work is going to demand that we reimagine and redefine the nature of experience – for customers and employees,” the Salesforce co-authors insist. “Flexibility, empathy and job satisfaction have become essential. A company’s ability to meet these expectations will require openness, innovation and ingenuity. Solutions such as a connected data strategy can help bridge the gap.

How can we get there? Salesforce authors identify five key pillars for creating a superior employee experience:

  • Trust: The company culture is inclusive, promotes diversity and provides a space where employees feel heard and empowered to be themselves. Employees who feel trustworthy and empowered and who feel they can take risks in their role are 1.5 times more likely to “see themselves as the best supporters of customer experience.”
  • Responsibility for the C Suite: HR has a seat at the table in overall business vision discussions, and the C-suite acts on employee feedback, helping to ensure that EX is prioritized at the highest levels of the business.
  • Alignment: Employee values ​​and company vision are aligned.
  • Acknowledgement: Internal resources are allocated to develop and foster employee growth. Employees feel valued and are an integral part of the company’s success.
  • Seamless technology: Ensure company-provided technology (hardware and software) works together seamlessly, increasing productivity and reducing the effort required to complete basic tasks. Employees of companies that provide well-designed technology are 5.6 times more likely to say their company “has experienced extreme revenue growth over the past 12 months.”

Notably, half of C-suite members surveyed think their companies excel in the areas that can have the biggest impact on customer experience and revenue. However, only one in three employees say their company currently excels in one of the top five drivers of customer experience. For example, while 52% of executives believed they provided “transparent technology” to employees, only 32% of employees agreed. Similarly, while 50% of executives say they favor the employee experience, only 32% of employees adhere to this notion.

About Perry Perrie

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