EX and CX: Establishing a connection between the two

We’ve all heard it said that “happy employees lead to happy customers” and business leaders believe it too: a recent Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey found that 55% of business executives believe it is impossible to provide a great customer experience (CX) without providing great employee experience (EX).


We’ve all heard it said that “happy employees lead to happy customers” and business leaders believe it too: a recent Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey found that 55% of business executives believe it is impossible to provide a great customer experience (CX) without providing great employee experience (EX).

Dig a little deeper though, and it’s harder to articulate what those organisations are doing to establish a connection between the two. In fact, only 22% of those surveyed are making EX a top-five priority for investment.

Why is the connection between EX and CX hard to establish?

Before we explain why let’s just state, it’s hard to do. Experience can’t be codified; and whether customer or employee, it’s a tangled web of unique journeys, moments and emotions; hard to define, hard to interpret and even harder to link together.

Until recently, for most organisations, the many and varied experiences making up customer and employee journeys have been viewed in two separate buckets with a single top-level connection between them.

Over-reliance on employee engagement metrics as a representation of employee experience (EX) as well as an overriding belief that strong engagement will have a positive impact on top-line customer experience metrics (NPS, C-Sat etc) have been sufficient to drive employee initiatives with little thought as to how those initiatives specifically impact on the customer experience. This means that other than top-line metrics, for most companies, there’s limited evidence of the impact of those EX initiatives on their customer experience (CX).

Why should you fix it?

Investing in EX initiatives to improve employee engagement should absolutely form a core part of an organisation’s strategy. Companies that commit time, resources and money in doing so will undoubtedly reap the rewards of their efforts in their customer experience.

However, we are starting to see forward-thinking organisations applying customer-centricity to their employee initiatives, and in doing so forging the connection between EX and CX to deliver a unified experience. Companies that consider EX and CX in isolation miss out on a wealth of insight and will ultimately struggle to deliver and maintain competitive customer experiences.

3 ways to start making the connection between EX and CX:


  1. Balance pragmatism with the ideal

    In a perfect world, organisations would build an “experience blueprint” made up of customer and employee-led journeys; interlocking where one impacts the other, identifying the type of impacts (transactional vs relational) and generating EX initiatives from an understanding of both. Although this should be the ultimate ambition for organisations, a reality check will tell you that attempting to articulate the entire volume and complexity of connections required for completeness would almost certainly lose momentum and struggle to realise any benefit at pace.

    Therefore, we think organisations should consider their EX strategy in two dimensions. The first dimension continues to target transformation of overall employee experience. The second targets building up pockets of in-depth knowledge about EX in order to drive transformation in CX.EX and CX Establishing a connection between the two, the two dimensions of EX strategy, Clarasys

    It’s critical that initiatives improving overall employee experience aren’t forgotten, and in fact, we know that organisations that do, will still realise positive benefits to their CX through improving EX more holistically. However, these initiatives must be balanced with activity derived from an organisation's understanding of their customer's experiences. Specifically, identifying which precise parts of an employee’s experience are playing a role in those moments that are most impactful for their customers.

  2. Go beyond the direct interactions of the experience that’s being transformed to develop initiatives

    Once those moments that are most impactful to the customer are understood, organisations should describe the different roles employees play in making that experience happen.

    Build a picture of the challenges an employee or group of employees need to overcome to deliver the experience. Obvious examples might be; the tools or technology e.g. the platform a Sales team employee has to work with to view and select offers for customers, or the business processes e.g. an approval process for complaints a Customer Service team employee is required to follow. Identifying and prioritising pain points from these direct interactions should be the first step.

    But, we’d recommend organisations also keep in mind that the undesirable effects of poor employee experience may well be driven by employee challenges felt outside of the immediacy of the customer interaction being targeted.

    Take the example of the Sales team member; perhaps in addition to poor technology, the employee incentives aren’t aligned to those of the strategic direction of the organisation. Or perhaps the employee is struggling to connect and collaborate with colleagues to problem solve and identify best practices.

    Finally, organisations should also consider at which level they are making connections between employee and customer insight and be sure to include both 1-2-1 and functional level connections. The former will drive analysis on the impact to individual customer experiences to improve transactional CX. The latter will also include analysis on the impact to relational CX as well as business performance.

  3. Ensure the customer is everyone’s responsibility

    By following a customer-centric approach as part of their EX strategy, organisations will find it easier to make the connection between EX and CX.

    Employee initiatives will have been generated directly from intimate knowledge on the most impactful customer moments. Additionally, initiatives will be targeted to shift the dial on CX metrics rather than focusing solely on employee outcomes.

    Challenges may arise however in the implementation of these initiatives and the realisation of benefits. Where transformation needs to happen in functions that aren’t traditionally customer-facing e.g. HR, Finance, Procurement etc., initiatives may struggle to acquire sponsorship or maintain momentum if those employees aren’t engaged and aligned to the CX strategy.

    Organisations that avoid breaking down these siloes will be left with teams blocking each others’ efforts or worse, pulling in opposite directions.

    In addition to developing a CX mindset, we think the focus should therefore be on; enabling collaboration across functions, ensuring ownership and sponsorship for initiatives and building improvement capabilities across the workforce. For most organisations this will be no easy task, requiring significant cultural and structural changes to make sure that customer experience isn’t the job of customer-facing functions alone.


    We know it’s hard to establish a connection between Employee Experience (EX) and Customer Experience (CX). Our recommendation is to; take a pragmatic approach by augmenting insights in the most impactful customer moments, go beyond the immediate interaction to resolve pain and realign around the customer. This will put organisations in a good place to unify their understanding of customer and employee experience.

To learn how to use employee feedback to drive CX improvements, listen to our podcast. Need help with your customer experience transformation? Get in touch.