Employee Experience Management helps all Audiences understand your Values and Purpose
In most cases, the audience that spends the most time with your brand is your employees. While your customers may have anything from occasional to frequent contact, your employees have consistent exposure. That is why you should put Employee Experience Management before Customer Experience Management (CXM).
When optimizing your customer experience (CX), it is best to start with your employees and their journey. If your employees don’t know why your company and product or service are great, how do you expect your customers to feel strongly about it? Starting with the people who work for you and who spend the most time thinking about and interacting with your brand means that you can make sure values and purpose are clear. Then, you have an entire workforce that can help you share those with the world.
Treat people in your organization better than you want them to treat your customers. This startlingly simple statement can mean the difference between success and failure of any initiative you take to improve the customer experience and become customer-centric. The link between employee experience management and customer experience management is obvious: if the employee experience is generally poor, employees won’t care much about the customers — or the company. Conversely, IBM found that if the employee experience is positive, and people feel valued and happy, they will care much more about the customer experience and be proud to work for the company.
The two concepts closely mirror one another: just as the customer experience is the sum of every interaction customers have with the organization throughout the customer journey, the employee experience is the sum of every interaction employees have from recruitment through to the end of their time with the organization. And since every interaction a customer has with the organization is thought of, created, designed, built, tested, and managed by the people who work for you, their experience as employees will directly and significantly impact the customer experience. This is true both at the individual level — one happy employee can make a personal impact on specific customer touchpoints — but also on a collective level, as a generally positive employee experience will result in lower turnover, higher engagement, better productivity, and a more customer-centric culture overall.
Treat Employees as you want Customers to be treated
If improving the customer experience is a corporate priority, then leaders at all levels have a responsibility to create an experience for employees that mirrors what is expected for customers. Here are a few items that will have a real impact on the employee experience.
Employee Experience Management: Begin with the Company Culture
Company culture is a necessary foundation for establishing employee experience management. If the organization’s culture is one where employees embrace behaviors such as trust, collaboration, communication, respect, transparency, and inclusion, they will, in turn, treat your customers in the same manner as they treat their colleagues.
Don’t forget the Physical Environment
Another foundational piece of the employee experience management is the physical environment and the tools available to perform their job. If people feel unsafe at work, are crammed together in a tiny space, or are otherwise uncomfortable, they will not have a good experience working with you. Similarly, it is important to remove barriers to doing exceptional work by ensuring you have the technology and processes in place to help people work effectively, collaborate with others, and come up with innovative ideas that best support your customer.
Train your Leaders in Employee Experience Management
In order to have an employee-centric workplace, all your leaders need the skills to treat people fairly, equitably, and most importantly, kindly. They must be trained to coach, listen effectively, and answer difficult questions with transparency and empathy.
Treat your Employees as Individuals
Treating employees fairly means treating them as individuals. If you need to impose a restriction due to an individual’s behavior, deal with that on the individual level. Similarly, empowering employees based on track record, role and experience show them that their contributions are seen and valued and that you believe in their ability to make decisions that are in the best interest of your customers.
Consider the Whole Person
People are so much more than just employees. They have a job, but they also have families, hobbies, dreams, goals, needs, personal emergencies, and health issues. The more you can help them fit their job into their life, the more you demonstrate that you value them as human beings. Not only will this make your employees feel valued, but it will also come back to you in spades if you ever need to ask the team to go above and beyond in exceptional circumstances.
Initiate Frequent, Honest, Open Communication
Communication must be open and honest between leadership and empowered employees. Employees are not truly empowered if they are missing information that would help them act in the best interests of the customer. Therefore, it is imperative that there is trust built so that both leaders and team members feel safe, share key communication messages and are free to express their thoughts, ideas, and feelings during the process of creating a customer-centric culture.
Seeking Feedback is Essential for Employee Experience Management
By constantly seeking feedback and initiating discussions with an empowered workforce, you keep the door open to individuals to bring up ideas, identify patterns in customer feedback and prevent problems from developing. When individuals propose ideas to improve the customer experience, it is important to let them know whether their ideas will be explored, and if not, why not. This way, employees feel heard, which encourages them to continue to bring ideas forward.
Provide a Clear and Focused Vision and Direction
Empowerment can only exist within the context of organizational vision and direction. Sharing a clear vision and direction related to customer centricity helps individuals to confidently execute their tasks and responsibilities in ways that support that common vision.
Provide Training and Skill Development
Empowered employees will constantly be growing, so it is important to work with them to provide necessary opportunities for training and development. This helps everyone to accelerate their ability to contribute to their fullest while helping them to continue to improve and feel challenged.
Clearly define Boundaries, then allow Autonomy within them
In order to maximize the potential of these increasingly empowered employees, it is important to be clear about boundaries so employees know when they have the authority to take personal action and when it is appropriate to bring an idea to their leader. As each individual demonstrates more experience, track record, and knowledge, it is important to re-examine boundaries and expand them as appropriate so the individual feels challenged, trusted and able to contribute effectively to the customer experience.
The hallmark of a successful customer-centricity initiative is when every decision that every employee makes is to the benefit of the customer, creating an experience with your organization that leaves them wanting more. Employees can only do this if they are empowered to make appropriate decisions when necessary. When you put the effort into empowering your workforce, you might be surprised at how quickly your organization will embrace a culture of customer-centricity.