Thinking

How does building quality employee experiences (EX) improve CX?

The idea of customer experience has moved on a lot from a basic front of house smile.

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The idea of customer experience has moved on a lot from a basic front of house smile. What has taken longer to mature in leaders minds, is the return on investment for focusing on employee experience (EX).

Employee experience, in its simplest terms, is the summation of the touchpoints your employees have with ‘the organisation’. Where customer experience (CX) considers the overall experience delivered as a product or service when these touchpoints are combined, EX has organisations looking at how their internal functions deliver to their employees.

It is a key need of employees to be offered people-focused, personalised and flexible experiences. Employees are less tolerant of poor treatment and are increasingly willing to act when their values are challenged. EX is essential to cultivating and holding on to the best people, sustaining growth, boosting innovation and improving CX.

That connection of EX to CX makes conceptual sense and evidence is now steering leaders to take note of the ROI in looking inwards to succeed outwards. In a 2017 Harvard Business Review analysis of investment in EX, they found the companies that invest in EX are four times as profitable as those that don’t. 

As mentioned in our previous blog, EX touchpoints can be categorised into three themes: cultural, physical and technological. Below we highlight areas to improve your EX that will then flow through to your customers.

Cultural

A great CX is built on the bedrock of a solid EX, primarily driven by the working environment and company culture. It sets an employee’s mindset about their job, covering everything from an organisation’s vision and goals, to the working relationships between colleagues. 

Changing internal processes and removing bureaucracy can help improve your culture when giving more accountability to those closest to customers. Up to 4 in 5 employees report some level of disengagement with their work. This can be caused by a lack of belief that their role makes a difference. Combatting this by increasing autonomy empowers employees to make decisions independently to act in your customers’ best interests with reduced handovers and quicker interactions and resolutions. Less time waiting for answers and greater assertiveness in delivering them is efficient and reassuring for the customer leaving them with an improved experience.

Creating and imparting a joint vision, defined through equal input, from all levels rather than dictated top down, reinforces engagement. It creates a clearer purpose of the part each employee plays and energises them to deliver their role in line with that vision, providing a consistent and considered output to customers.

Physical

Uncomfortable working environments are a poor experience for employees to spend the majority of their day in. A lot of us have experienced this in the last year when setting up at a kitchen table or balancing a laptop on the arm of a sofa. At some point over that time, most companies will have got their employees set up properly for remote working. 

Going forward, employees will be wanting to take advantage of their home setup as well as using the office. A recent survey found that 82% of employees say they would be more loyal if they had flexible location options. Minimising churn protects the knowledge, experience, and customer relationships employees own. Departures cause unstructured change which is unsettling for customers. 

Technology

Employees care about the technology they are provided and the experience that offers. Even the humble computer monitor, employees care about. 96% of employees consider adjustable monitors as the most important feature of their workspace and so it comes as no surprise that 88% believe that aspects like better resolution would improve productivity. Blame for stress or failure can easily be pointed at technology - rightly or wrongly. Once a service agent stops logging notes on the client in the system because they don’t like it, they have neglected all future agents of that knowledge in future conversations. If an employee can clearly see regular investment in quality technology they will have more faith to adhere to the correct processes that technology underpins. 

The variety and type of tasks that get handed to employees is a vital part of their experience. Fiddly, repetitive, monotonous activities are not high up the menu. Alongside arming employees to do their job, technology, like RPA, can benefit us in taking part of the job away. Goldman Sachs, amidst a rally of workers unhappy about extreme working hours, have highlighted their innovation in automation as one way to relieve junior employees of the more basic time-consuming processes. Any time back in a monster working day will improve an employee’s experience but it also generates more energy and appetite for them to focus on the work they are doing to win, retain, and deliver to customers.

Often employees have to handle several tools to get the job done. Seamless technology experiences trump having to flip back and forth between applications. A perfect one size fits all product may not always exist so to help employees there should be focus on integration abilities between tools. 3D tech firm Magic Leap benefited from their ticketing and collaboration tools (Zendesk & Slack) being able to plug-in to each other. This created a fluid communication platform between teams for sourcing answers internally and responding to customer demands in tickets. This gave a positive impact on first reply time and resolution time for customers whilst giving employees fewer tickets to juggle at any one time. 

Summary 

70% of executives agree that improved EX leads to improved CX. The question is knowing where the biggest ROI will come in the levers that can be pulled across culture, physical and technology. Taking account of your employee journey and assessing the maturity of your ability to meet your employee needs at each stage will highlight where the greatest kickback could come, in both EX and CX improvements. In our next article focusing on EX, we talk about whether it's important to align EX and CX strategy to your company vision, mission and values.

 

For the previous blog post in our EX in CX series, read EX 101: What is employee experience and why is it important?