What’s the purpose of employee engagement? Supposedly, dis-engaged employees spell weak business results, so it stands to reason that engaged employees will yield strong business results, right? Not necessarily. Engagement for engagement sake may be busy work, or even a deviation from true productivity through rah-rah activities meant to increase morale.
Employees must be happy before customers can be happy, according to popular opinion. But have you ever been an unhappy customer yourself while watching employees horse-around? There’s obviously more to this equation than the trite platitudes preach.
What is Customer Experience Context?
Customer experience context is about their expectations versus reality. Expectations are built-up through advertising, sales reps, word-of-mouth, and the like — expectations are essentially your brand promise. Don’t get confused by your own “Kool-Aid”. Your brand promise is more accurately not so much what you aspire for it to be, but what your customers interpret it to be.
And let’s remember that the customer’s reality is just as important. The reality gap above or below expectations results in the customer experience context that should guide employee engagement at all levels and in every functional area across your company.
- Whereas “blind” engagement may actually worsen business results, customer experience-centered engagement means that employees’ activity is focused on what customers need in order to stay with the company longer and buy more.
- And customer-focused criteria for employee hiring, training, recognition, compensation, promotion, and so forth ‘ all happiness components — bode greater surety toward happy customers.
Customer Experience ROI
Sustained business results require systemic treatment of customer experience (CX) and employee engagement. In our 4-year study of CX practices, we found that most companies are strongly pursuing voice-of-the-customer and/or customer engagement — which are two ends of a spectrum: asking customers for their opinions about your company and asking customers to co-promote your company. What’s typically weak across this spectrum is employee engagement within the customer experience context (e.g. aiming to improve and innovate customers’ well-being as a means to the company’s and employees’ well-being).
Customer engagement must be a mirror reflection of employee engagement if you expect to reap lasting business results. And employee engagement must be driven by voice-of-the-customer, prioritized by customer intelligence and customer lifetime value, to create improvements and innovation accordingly.
In the employee engagement CX ROI building-block, we have identified customer experience maturity stepping stones:
- Champion Customer-Focus: coach executives and CX facilitators in stakeholder management and leadership of customer experience thinking, decision-making, improvement, and innovation.
- Maximize CX Visibility: communicate CX realities and metrics in every possible way and time.
- Engage Everyone in Managing CX: help everyone understand and manage the customer experience context of their job, initiatives, and day-to-day work.
Employee engagement best practice is wrapped around customer experience context. Focus employees at all levels on a unifying factor: customers. After all, customers are the source of revenue, budgets, salaries, and dividends. To be engaged toward any other end is nonsense. Engage employees to customers’ well-being, and you’ll see the company’s and employees’ well-being improve accordingly.
This article is 9th in a 10-part series providing glimpses into the ClearCXTM customer experience maturity assessment.
- Customer Experience Maturity Roadmap
- Customer Experience Strategy is Uncommon
- Customer-Centricity is Controversial
- Comments are Customer Experience Gold
- Customer Experience Intelligence Inspires Innovation
- Customer Lifetime Value Prioritizes Customer Experience Management
- Customer Experience Improvement is a Team Sport
- Customer Experience Innovation Creates Mutual Value
- Employee Engagement: Living Your Brand Promise
Contact the author, Lynn Hunsaker, to find out how to customize these practices to your situation.