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Organizations have, for years, sought to deliver great customer experiences as a way to maintain sector leadership. But in the experience economy, where businesses compete not on the services they provide, but the experiences they deliver, many are falling short. Why?
Organizations are, rightly, focusing on customer centricity, journey personalization, and creating effortless interactions. But what too many fail to realize is that, within a customer-centric framework, employees cannot be taken for granted.
Richard Branson once said, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
And he is right. Employee experience (EX) is a huge driver of engagement, with research showing that companies with highly engaged employees dramatically outperform their competitors (for example, Gallup). Taking this into consideration, answering the following questions has become imperative for every company that wants to differentiate itself based on its customer experience:
How does a business begin to understand and quantify the influence of EX on customer relationships, loyalty and, finally, business results? It starts with correlating CX and EX. As a first step in identifying correlation, corporate EX programs need to move away from transactional approaches towards a journey-centric one. The idea here is to properly capture and link every moment that matters within the employee lifecycle - just like CX programs have done for many years across the customer lifecycle.
That’s the easy part. Linking the employee journey with the customer journey, and quantifying how particular aspects of EX influence specific components of CX, is where it gets tricky.
Here we need to take a view on the individual employee level, identifying which parts of the customer journey any particular employee can affect. For example, a contact center agent will influence customer experiences during voice-based interactions. And by analyzing how differences in individual agents’ experiences result in different interaction-level CX for individual customers, any company can discover and quantify the aspects of EX affecting interaction-level CX.
If a company understands (and today most of them do) how interaction CX influences overall CX and how overall CX correlates with revenue, profitability and similar – a clear link between EX and the organization’s business outcomes can be established.
And similar approaches can be taken, for example, across roles such as banking advisors, insurance representatives, field technicians and many others.
It’s important here to not fall into the trap of basing correlation on the overall EX of a particular employee (measured by employee NPS or EX index). While those measurements can provide certain insights, the only way to get enough info for improvements is to deeply analyze the various aspects of EX, and not just overall scores.
Indeed, all the best intentions can mean nothing if you’re using the wrong measurements. Setting up an appropriate KPI logic makes the difference between just talking about EX importance and really managing it.
A good place to start in deciding what to measure is by looking across the aisle and seeing what you measure for CX. Deloitte even suggests creating a common framework for both EX and CX measurements (called “stakeholder experience”). Following this logic, EX KPIs should fall into same categories as those used to measure CX: Ease, Recommendations and Satisfaction.
What exactly the KPIs are will depend on the type of business you run, but putting them under these three categories will help to capture a comprehensive EX picture – from employee effort and emotions to overall relationship and attrition risk.
Like customer journeys, employee journeys consist of many “touchpoints” – hiring, initial and regular training, after-training support, everyday work, coaching, performance improvement plans, recognition, promotion and similar. The experience across each of these touchpoints should be actively measured and analyzed, with the aim of making improvements wherever possible. And when assessing the influence of improvements, always focus on employees’ perception and not on the company’s intention – because these two can differ significantly.
For contact center agents, communication and desktop processes analytics technologies represent excellent sources of information about agents’ effort, and can be very useful in determining gaps in processes as well as deficiencies in application support, training and collaboration capabilities.
However, focused surveying of EX at all the relevant touchpoints is a must. These surveys should not be anonymous because we need individual EX data here – in order to link it with individual CX data. It is true that employees may be concerned about how their feedback can affect their careers and relationships at work. However, by addressing employees’ need to be safe with anonymity of surveys companies are actually sending wrong message – that providing feedback might be dangerous. To correctly capture data about EX, creating and nourishing an open organizational culture that encourages and appreciates honest feedback is paramount.
According to MIT CISR, Employee Experience is defined by work complexity – how hard is to get work done in your organization and behavioral norms around creativity, collaboration and empowerment.
If agents struggle to perform daily tasks, their experience and level of engagement will inevitably be poor. Poor EX will then negatively influence CX in different ways – from suboptimal advice, low first contact resolution rates and high time to resolution, to increased effort and frustration. Work complexity can be decreased by streamlining processes and procedures, and providing adequate training and coaching.
And proper agent user experience (UX) design that integrates the necessary data and tools including AI-based assistants as well as insights from predictive analytics solutions (“next-best-action”) is critical as their roles become increasingly complex.
There are many ways to enable employees to express their creativity, meanwhile, and one of the best is to motivate employees to become influencers speaking for the company on digital media. Who can better represent your brand than your (happy) employees?
Empowerment means allowing employees to use their own experience, judgement and creativity in their daily work – instead of following strict rules and procedures. For contact center agents, for example, empowerment is a must as products and services become increasingly complex (and customers become more informed and demanding than ever). In this environment, it’s no longer possible to script every possible scenario, so agents need to be empowered to choose their own paths and delight customers as they see fit.
Finally, allowing employees to easily collaborate with each other effectively, from anywhere, is table stakes in today’s digital workplace.
The influence of EX on CX and business results cannot be denied. Engaged employees passionate about their work will go the extra mile to create better customer experiences. Companies today generate a wealth of data about both their customers and employees, despite most still operating their CX and EX programs in silos.
Put simply, a CX program that doesn’t encompass EX simply cannot reach its full potential. Creating a common measurements framework and correlating EX and CX data will uncover mutual dependencies and interconnected drivers – creating the insights that are critical for success in the experience economy.
 MIT CISR – Building Business Value with Employee Experience