I have a question for all of the business leaders out there: Do you really believe in the digital era business strategy and customer experience strategy is one and the same? If the answer is YES, my next question is: Do you honestly have a finger on the pulse of the customer experience (CX) you are providing?
I am sure you are using online technology and mobile apps to review data and analyze numbers. You may conduct one-one review sessions and read reports and arrive at who is performing well and who is not. You may be personally overseeing the solution to address the “hot-button issues” that emerged from the last customer survey. The external consultant you hired, may have apprised you of the big picture trends and external factors impacting customer experience, and you have shortlisted with the executive team the strategies and tactics you intend to use to move their organizations forward.
But, here’s the reality – your best-in-class customer experience insights lies elsewhere. It’s not hidden in your recently released game-changing product, next marketing campaign or loyalty program.
That secret sauce you are after is in fact right in front of you. It’s your people, the employees working in your company – who interact day in and day out with customers!
So, what kind of employee experience are they having, because an unhappy employee will not give good customer service? How closely are you monitoring the impact of absenteeism, “presenteeism” and attrition? Are you aware what your current and former employees say about your brand to their friends and family on social media?
As a business leader, you have the best of intent for your customers, company, and your people. But, in today’s complex business environment, we do understand that it’s becoming increasingly complicated to read and adapt to the changes. It also, practically impossible, to truly understand the daily challenges their frontline employees and managers encounter. Their daily interactions, equip them with the right credentials to provide a practical point of view in real-time, of what’s working, what needs improvement and how to fix and it.
We firmly believe that customer experience will never surpass the employee experience. So it’s time to look inside your company ask yourself:
Does your employee experience (EX) permit your people to bring the best of themselves to work so they can then deliver irresistible and ultimate customer experience (CX), that ensures your customers keep coming back for more?
Based on our experience, we are sharing few things you can do to focus on the EX so you can, in turn, deliver the best CX.
Understand the current reality to define your customers’ future experience
The customers have needs or problems to solve, and the solution is delivered through multiple physical and digital touch points and channels today: via in-person, a brand website, mobile app, call centers, physical store, social media, and more. At each interaction, based on the experience the customer forms an opinion about your brand. To launch a new customer experience strategy, you need to have clarity around the current state across multiple touch points. By doing a reality check by gathering insights from the employee’s point of view, existing data and secondary research, you can set up your platform for the future.
Find out what’s working really well
Find the bright spots in the customer experience journey that are working really well already. Its time to replicate and scale the success across the company. Identify the individual contributors or teams responsible for getting this right, appreciate and reward their efforts. Take their help to spread the secret sauce around.
Live it or leave it
You need to walk the talk, and model the behaviors you want your employees to exhibit. The best part is, you just need try, and you don’t have to be perfect. All you need to be is authentic, consistent and honest. If you want others to change and put effort into it by exhibiting the change – soon others will follow. By bringing it to life, and showing some vulnerability to the team, you create a sense that “we will do it together” and soon people will start modeling you.
Create an “ours” and “win-win” mentality with better goal alignment and tolerance to different approaches
Today every employee wants to feel valued, expect to engage and be engaged and feel proud of their work. By providing clarity on how their individual roles play a part in achieving the delivery of the customer experience and business goals, you on board them completely with the company’s vision and mission. . Sharing the intent is key, but give them the flexibility to solve the issues in front of you. Don’t impose methods and techniques. Tolerance is key.They are more aware of their responsibilities and start taking ownership by focusing on their core accountabilities, and paint the bright brand-inspired dots to the CX picture.
Today, it’s a proven fact that every employee (both frontline and backstage) has a role to play in providing the ultimate customer experience. By painting a picture of the entire CX – you shed light for employees on the parts they are not accountable but need to be aware of. Even during times of crisis, this alignment and working together, will help you handle the tough times and emerge a winner.
Ensure the managers build teams that reflect the fundamentals of the brand!
We cannot stress the critical role of the mid-level leaders enough! If they are disconnected, unenthused or unclear of the strategy, they become the choke points for an organization making the brand duller, unattractive and lacking luster. Invest in coaching, and developing their skills and knowledge and they will be at the heart of delivering the irresistible CX by supporting their frontline teams.
Promote personal goals
Are your employees encouraged to share their personal purpose of working? Every individual comes with their own values or beliefs, but to enable to given them their best, it’s important that they align with the company values and goals and learn how to apply their own values and beliefs to achieve personal and business success. This is living congruently, one life at home and at work.
Offer flexibility and make your company a safe place to think
You may be working with a multi-generation workforce, who are increasingly mobile and transient, demanding greater flexibility in their work and personal lives. You may want to focus on employee engagement, development and promoting a flexible environment for people to work optimally. By doing so, they feel safe and empowered to share their creative ideas and build a solution with their teams.
Invest in technology
In the digital era, to provide excellent customer services, employees need to be “always-on, always working,” and need to be connected. You need to invest in relevant technology that will enable them to do their jobs, develop professional networks, participate in global communities of practice, and be recognized for their contributions on the go.
Celebrate wins and recognize success
When an individual or a team experience success or do something extraordinary, use it as an excuse to appreciate and celebrate the achievement. By naming the performers, dates, deadlines that were met or exceeded, ideas shared you legitimize the celebration. It is an excellent opportunity to not only inspire the contributor(s) to bigger successes, but to reinforce the behaviors the company value, but also to strengthen your own personal leadership brand in the process. This helps demonstrate to the other employees how they can earn similar celebrations in the future.
A brand is defined by the customer’s experience. The experience is delivered by the employees.“ Shep Hyken
If your company focuses on its employee experience with the same level of intent that it does to its customer experience, you can reap the benefits. Look at your CX strategy through the lens of your employees, and then make empowering them your top priority.
This post was originally written for and first appeared on People Matters.