When I talk to customer experience (CX) professionals, one of the challenges they frequently mention is the struggle to connect employees who don’t interact with customers – including those working in internal functions – to what’s going on with the company’s customer experience efforts. When I hear this, I immediately applaud them for recognizing this challenge and not accepting the narrow point of view that only customer-facing employees matter when it comes to delivering a great customer experience. Internal employees make decisions every day that ultimately impact the experiences customers have. They are the ones who create the environment within which customer-facing employees operate, and this environment contributes to successful or not-so-successful customer interactions. Internal employees cannot be overlooked if a company is trying to create a truly customer-centric culture.
So how do you tackle this challenge? How do you engage employees who don’t see, hear, talk to, or otherwise cross paths with customers during the course of their daily work? The short answer – you’ve got to help them make the connection between their personal decisions and actions and the end customer experience. You’ve got to show them the myriad of ways their decisions and actions flow through the organization and out to the customer. You’ve got to show them how what they do impacts how customer-focused the company’s culture or operating processes really are.
There are many ways you can help employees make this connection, but it won’t happen if the company isn’t committed to creating a customer-centric culture and invested in helping all employees embrace the brand promises it has made to customers. Once the company has made that commitment and investment, it can then connect internal employees to its CX efforts in any number of different ways. For example, companies can create ways for non-customer-facing employees to hear first-hand from customers through formats like panel discussions, customer videos, or facilitated roundtables. Companies can also include these employees in hands-on activities, like customer journey mapping or experience reviews that put employees “into the customer’s shoes” and then draw lines back to the processes, policies, and tools their respective function controls.
When companies successfully connect their non-customer-facing employees to their CX efforts, it creates internal teams of enlightened employees who view what they do in a different light and behave in ways that result in processes and a culture that are much more customer-centric than before. Here are just some of the ways these enlightened employees can boost CX from the inside-out through the efforts of their respective internal functions:
Any organization that wants to be customer-centric has to ultimately master four CX core competencies, one of which is employee engagement. When the organization engages all employees around the mindset that customer experience is everyone’s business, it makes it possible to tap into a wealth of energy and ideas of a broader set of employees, which helps CX efforts succeed in the present and sustain that success over time.