You’ve heard it a million times—happy employees make for happy customers. And the majority of business leaders agree: 55% of executives in a recent Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey said they believe it is impossible to provide great customer experience (CX) without providing great employee experience (EX).
But believing a good EX is critical and taking action to improve it are often at odds: only 22% of those surveyed are making EX a top-five priority for investment. To deliver sought-after customer experiences, your organization must prioritize EX as a foundational element of your digital CX transformation. To get an idea of why EX and CX alignment is so critical, look at customer service employee retention rates. The average customer-service representative between ages 20 and 34 stays on the job for just over one year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average call center turnover rate is as high as 45%—at least twice the average turnover in other departments.
And these employees aren’t passive actors: if they can’t make customers happy, and bear the brunt of customer dissatisfaction, they feel it. Over time, the effects can be demoralizing. One top barrier to improving CX, the HBRAS study showed, is an information technology (IT) department not understanding the needs of customers. Another is customer-facing employees who say they are not enabled to act on behalf of customers. Technology, process, and training can prevent employees from delivering the level of service customers expect. Employees need to be empowered, have their day-to-day optimized, and feel supported to operate at the speed of the customer.
The 10-Step Experience Innovation Equation
Improving customer experience and driving growth are directly tied to optimizing the employee experience.
Companies that prioritize EX to deliver a premium customer experience achieve 1.8 times faster revenue growth than those that don’t, according to “The Experience Equation: How Happy Employees and Customers Accelerate Growth,” published by Forbes Insights research in partnership with Salesforce. Conversely, focusing solely on CX does not correlate with improving EX or revenue growth, the report showed.
In other words, EX + CX = experience innovation. It’s that simple.
Your organization can follow 10 steps to optimize EX for customer success and business growth:
- Envision: Align your CX vision with an articulated vision for EX and how they will support customer goals. Engage employees to understand their needs, aspirations, and ideas for the CX vision.
- Communicate: Communicate the value of the EX + CX equation to all stakeholders. Define how the customer vision aligns to deliver value for employees and how every employee plays a role in delivering that value to customers.
- Train: Develop a dedicated training program to upskill existing and onboard new employees to deliver against the CX vision.
- Empower: Give employees the tools, processes, systems, and support they need to use customer insights to efficiently serve—and delight—customers in real time.
- Centralize and Optimize: Lead cultural shifts that make information centralized, accessible, and intuitive, so that information can lead to better outcomes.
- Support: Organize, develop, and connect cross-functional disciplines and skill sets to optimize employee and customer-related experiences in each touchpoint—so service, sales, marketing, human resources, finance, and all other key stakeholder groups collaborate on consistent delivery of optimal EX and CX.
- Activate and Measure: Invest in integrated technologies to continuously train and empower employees, capture critical data, and measure a unified experience.
- Automate: Automate systems and processes to handle repetitive, mundane, and manual tasks and free employees to think more creatively as they engage customers.
- Motivate: Create offers that encourage employees to continue learning and promote exceptional customer engagement.
- Care: Support employee morale and prevent burnout. Integrate AI-powered workforce and HR management systems to more effectively engage employees, assess employee wellness, and help them reskill as their roles evolve.
Engaged employees understand and are aligned with the CX mission. They are trained and equipped with the tools and data they need in order to do their best work. They’re empowered to identify and solve any issues that might hamper CX (or can follow a clearly defined path to get issues resolved quickly and efficiently).
To become truly customer-centric and unify your organization around customer insights, experiences, and outcomes, start with your people.
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