As the old saying goes, “the customer comes first.” But actually, businesses need to first prioritize a superb employee experience in order to inspire the highest levels of service and customer satisfaction.
It’s a classic chicken-and-egg situation – however you view it, most business leaders agree that employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX) are intertwined, each feeding into the impact of the other.
There’s also a mounting body of research to back it up. According to a recent study led by Forbes and Salesforce, 70% of businesses find a better employee experience leads directly to a better customer experience. The study also found that companies in the top percentile for both EX and CX were growing twice as fast as those in the bottom percentile.
Clearly there’s a lot to gain from organizations that get it right. Here are a few key considerations for any business looking maximize the relationship between their employee experience and customer experience.
When staff are engaged and invested in their work, they’re more likely to go above and beyond the letter of their job descriptions to ensure customers enjoy positive interactions when purchasing their product or using their service. When employees feel ignored, unappreciated or stressed, that bleeds into their customer interactions – and then nobody leaves happy.
Engaged employees tend to be more enthusiastic, more attentive to customer needs and more pleasant to interact with, all of which are defining characteristics of every great customer service experience.
So, how do you create an engaging experience for employees? Rather than novelty ideas like office ping pong and casual Fridays, employers should focus on what really matters. Key factors like opportunities for career or skill development, reward and recognition, work-life balance, workplace relationships and access to quality tools and resources all make a huge difference when it comes to inspiring stronger engagement.
It’s common sense, really. If employees don’t feel their experience at work is valued by their employer, why should they put in the extra effort needed to provide a fantastic CX?
Connecting values with behaviors
Great organizations take time to define a set of shared values that underpin their identity as a business – and, crucially, that employees can buy into. When staff feel aligned with a core vision, they naturally start acting out the type of behaviors that contribute to an exceptional customer experience.
Company values also provide a perfect opportunity to highlight the importance of soft skills, such as empathy, responsiveness, inspiring trust and anything else that’s considered fundamental to a specific quality of service.
However, values aren’t useful if they aren’t highlighted, supported and lived every day in the organization. To get the most mileage out your values, infuse them into messaging, comms and recognition moments to drive home their utility for employees.
Incentivizing great work
So, once a set of values that link directly to positive CX behaviors has been established, how can businesses bring them to life and make them a key part of their day-to-day employee experience?
More and more employers are turning to digital reward and recognition solutions to achieve this – and eCard systems are a great example. Rather than relying on word of mouth and annual appraisals, it’s far more powerful to give managers and employees a continuous way to recognize and reinforce fantastic work as and when it happens.
With branded eCards tailored to match company values, colleagues have an easy route to celebrate each other’s successes while managers are better able to spread best practices across their workforce by reinforcing the actions they want to encourage. The fact that the cards are linked with values also ensures that every recognition moment feels authentic and meaningful.
Done right, this can quickly become a fundamental part of a company’s employee experience. The combination of reinforcement, incentivization and visibility creates a cycle of positive behavior, which feeds directly into the way employees approach their interactions with customers. It’s a great way to encourage staff to deliver an exceptional service.
Make it consistent
Consistency is crucial when it comes to CX. Chances are you have different individuals, teams and departments that each have some degree of responsibility for your overall customer experience. Each of these cogs needs to be working in tandem with a shared understanding of what the business is all about – at all times.
This is the only way to ensure that every interaction reflects the values of the company, no matter where the interaction takes place, or which employee is handling it.
The end goal is to deliver a service that customers want to use again and again because they know what a great experience they’re going to get every time.
At the same time, your EX needs to be consistent enough so all areas of your workforce feel fairly treated and don’t risk becoming disengaged. For instance, a common pain point for businesses that employ a large frontline workforce is that it’s more difficult to deliver an engaging, rewarding and fully connected experience for this section of employees than it is for office-based or “information” staff.
Frontline workers often deal with customers, so if they feel undervalued, then it’s likely that the average CX will suffer as a result. That’s why investing in the right channels of communication and engagement, such as intuitive apps and seamless mobile experiences, can make all the difference when catering for a dispersed workforce.
Client Spotlight: Watford Community Housing
When Watford Community Housing’s employees gave only a 3/5 satisfaction score, the organization dug deeper to find that employees didn’t have a full grasp on their benefits package, highlighting additional gaps in Watford’s learning and development program.
After working with Reward Gateway subject matter experts, WCH launched its very first people strategy to improve employee engagement, increase the understanding of recognition and boost participation in training sessions. WCH revamped its recognition program and introduced “Thank You Thursdays,” which encourage peer-to-peer recognition aligned to the organization’s core values. It also brought transparency to its benefits package by bringing everything into their one-stop shop platform, where employees could find everything on offer all in one place.
Learning and development also got a face lift – line managers collaborated with leadership to construct the right kinds of training to offer employees, and everything, both mandatory and supplementary, is also hosted in the mobile-friendly platform that allows staff members to log in anywhere, anytime.
In just 18 months, WCH improved its satisfaction survey participation from 34% to 60% – and its satisfaction score by 21 points. More than half of employees are having regular one-on-one meetings with their managers and the upskilling brought by more accessible L&D opportunities has led to numerous internal promotions.
And – to demonstrate the impact of employee experience on customer experience – Watford Community Housing saw tenant satisfaction increase to 4.5% above the annual target, and the ratio of compliments to complaints increased from 24:76 to 49:51.
Looking for more insights to help take your employee experience to new heights? Schedule a call with a member of our Engagement team.