Autonomy, mastery, and purpose: Employee experience, the right motivators are king

Customer experience (CX) is enabled by many things and organisations invest in most of them, but the success of any CX transformation can be tied back to the health of the environment for the employee.

Customer experience (CX) is enabled by many things and organisations invest in most of them, but the success of any CX transformation can be tied back to the health of the environment for the employee. By not considering the employees, it is unlikely that the transformation will deliver the highest value possible to your customer.

At the heart of most organisations are the day-to-day interactions between a representative of the business and its customers. If a representative is demotivated, then these interactions might not be productive for the customer. This could generate a negative emotional experience for the customer, affecting their relationship with the business and resulting in the potential loss of lifetime value. If the environment for the employee is demotivating, will they be making the right decisions for the business? Or will the emotions they feel make them do the bare minimum just to get through each day? 

So, what are the best motivators to get the workforce going above and beyond and to maximise the impact of employee experience on CX? If you look across the board, financial incentives are most commonly used, the typical motivation scheme of rewarding high performers and not the low performers. But is this the right option? Daniel Pink’s book Drive, highlights that financial incentives work as a motivator for mechanical skills, i.e. repetitive actions and following step-by-step guides. But how long can an individual keep doing this sort of task without it affecting their motivation and, therefore, their ability to have meaningful interactions? Promoting the desired behaviours in employees to encourage meaningful interactions, and inherently better the customer experience, requires cognitive thinking such as problem-solving and innovation in which the right motivator is not money-related. In fact, the studies show that the higher the financial incentive in these scenarios, the poorer the performance. 

So what are the right ways to motivate? The three things that foster the right environment for great customer experience and personal satisfaction are: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Autonomy is where people are self-directing, not bound by stringent rules and conditions, and with the freedom to steer their own course. Pink says that the ‘traditional notions of management’ are great for compliance, but for engagement, self-direction is critical. With better employee engagement, in the context of CX, comes interactions with customers where the employee is more invested and the customer feels the value of the interaction.

Mastery. The urge for individuals to get better at things. Simply, if there is no way an employee sees self-improvement or progression, the motivation to get better is gone and productive working suffers. Whether by offering courses, a self-learning allowance, or an hourly allocation to learn each week, by creating an environment for self-improvement this desire for mastery is fed and customers get the information they need.

Purpose. The right purpose for the work people do day-to-day gives employees the understanding of why they are doing what they are doing (other than to get paid). But on many occasions, these purposes and objectives are set at C-Level, which gives direction for the business, but doesn’t filter down properly to motivate individuals. In terms of CX, if an organisational purpose or objective is set, the employee needs to understand the context of their role within it and how it aligns to the customer journey and customer experience objectives. Setting these objectives is also a great way for employees to feel valued if their voice is heard. And, if an employee has visibility of the CX objective’s KPIs and their impact on them, it gives them a tangible connection to the organisation’s goal and helps motivate them.

These three motivators promote value, and value underpins all. An employee must see that the work they do is valuable and they themselves are valued by the business. If they don’t feel valued, they will be thinking about that over the work and there will be no consideration to go above and beyond. Fundamentally, having the right culture in itself can promote value. So if you are thinking about how to incentivise or better motivate your employees to deliver a better CX, try putting aside the monetary aspect and focus on the true drivers of employee engagement.

We’re excited to be offering our free, virtual CX workshops, tailored to your business needs and capability. Click here for more detail.

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