Until a few years back, every business assumed that the keys to long-term success and growth were providing a high-quality product, the best customer service and pricing it right, so customers get value for money. But, today in the experience economy, the only differentiator for a business is about providing the best “customer experience (CX).”
So if this is really about CX, why does employee experience even matter?
The advent of social media and real-time interactive feedback via the Internet allows every customer to build and expect a relationship a company, rather than just touchpoints
Customer experience is the cumulative impact of multiple touchpoints over time, which result in a real relationship feeling, or lack of it.
Employee Experience Is What Shapes Great Customer Experience
As customers, we interact with numerous brands on a near daily basis and are familiar with both good and bad customer experiences.
A foul language by the rude hotel receptionist; an inattentive waiter; inability to speak with a human after waiting for fifteen minutes on calling a call center; cashier refusing to serve as she is closing the aisle in a supermarket; unreliable internet services; a gift that gets delivered damaged; stock-out of a drug at the pharmacy; waiting time at a restaurant, all shape our experiences with the respective brands or companies we interact with.
Though no company is perfect, that is why what an organization does during both good and bad experiences makes a huge difference.
Most brands slowly realize the employees hold power to providing exceptional customer experience. With this power shift, companies realize they need to change their mindset and create a workplace, where people want to work.
A positive employee experience is what builds trust, advocates brand loyalty, and ensures long-term customer retention. Most companies, sadly, don’t focus on customer experience. Therefore, it’s no wonder their customers don’t build loyalty … and leave.
Management often believes that a customer-centric strategy is “common sense.” The fact is that customer experience strategies is not common sense. If indeed they were, most companies would be implementing them, rather than hemorrhaging customers.
Despite the economic crisis, the rise of the “Social Customer” and the popularity of customer engagement strategies through social media, to many companies put in a lot more effort to ensure the company does not get bad press, or negative “buzz” in stead of providing a better then expected customer experience.
Many companies should start taking their discipline a lot more serious than they are doing today.
No Longer An Optional Business Initiative
Build better customer relationships is no longer an optional business initiative. With increased access to information, competition and real-time opinions from other customers, providing an exceptional customer experience is a key piece of running a successful business.
However, over the past few years, we have started to see the emergence of the employee experience which is now something that many HR leaders and executives around the world are focusing on. Similar to the customer experience, the employee experience is what happens when an employee interacts with your organization. It starts with how they first find and apply for a job at your company and ends with how they leave and includes everything in between. For example, at T-Mobile they have started to provide insight into the jobs that people are applying for including how long they have been available for and how many applicants they have received. They also re-wrote many of their job descriptions in plain English instead of the legalese and marketing speak we are all so used to. Why did they do this? To improve the experience of potential employees before they even get in the door.
Decades ago nobody cared about the employee experience because all of the power was in the hands of employers. They simply needed to list a job and give people a place to do that job, nothing else really mattered. There was no focus on engagement, inspiration, empowerment, designing beautiful workplaces, using modern technology, or the like. All of these things have just recently become mainstream topics of discussion.
In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management found that the top priority for those in HR is talent management. Why? Because the power has now shifted into the hands of employees. Organizations have always assumed that they can create a place where they assumed people needed to work there and are now realizing that they must create a place where people want to work there. The war for talent has never been more fierce. People are turning to non-traditional ways of earning a living such as creating products on Etsy, renting out their homes on Airbnb, driving for Uber or Lyft, become freelancers on sites like Upwork (formerly Elance-Odesk), and the like. Technology platforms such as Linkedin have also made it incredibly easy for head hunters to steal talent from their competitors. So in this type of a world what can organizations do to help make sure that employees want to show up? You guessed it, focus on the employee experience.
Catered meals, onsite dry cleaning, beautiful office spaces, modern technology, and flexible work programs may all seem like fancy perks but all of the companies I have been speaking with leverage these things as strategic business initiatives. They offer these things because employees actually ask for them. Employees at different companies value and care about different things. This is why organizations such as F5 Networks which sees employees working 9-5 in cubicles (yet is ranked as one of the best places to work in America) is so different than an organization like Google which offers pretty much anything you can want and think of.
Everything from the food employees eat to the technologies they use to get their jobs done to the office spaces they work in are all a part of the employee experience. Every organization I speak to thinks about the employee experience a bit differently. In other words, there is no cookie cutter approach that every company can take and apply. Not everything that Google does will work for your company and not everything you are doing at your company will work at Google, nor should it!
In a world where money is no longer the primary motivating factor for employees, focusing on the employee experience is the most promising competitive advantage that organizations can create. So the question is, what is your organization doing to improve the employee experience?
The article was published first in PeopleMatters