Can employee experience have a positive impact on customer experience-and your bottom line?


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As an example to illustrate a key point in last week’s post (that customer satisfaction and customer experience are two very different things), I mentioned the department store, Nordstrom. While reflecting back on this post, I realized Nordstroms is also a fine example of how creating the right experience for employees can have a positive impact on your customer experience, which in turn impacts your performance.

I was reminded of the famous Nordstrom’s handbook they used to provide new employees. Perhaps “handbook” is a bit of a stretch since it was only seventy-five words on a 5″x8″ card, but here’s what it said:

Welcome to Nordstrom

We’re glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.

Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.

Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.

Do you see what they did here? Nordstrom asked its employees to fulfill the most important part of the company’s defined target customer experience – provide outstanding customer service. They demonstrate the employee experience they’re after — one where employees are empowered and expected to use their own judgement. And they clearly communicated with every single employee across the company.

Just as the best customer experiences are based on mutual self interest between companies and customers, the best employee experiences are based on mutual self interest between the needs of an organization and it’s employees.

How has the Nordstrom employee experience impacted performance? The company was named yet again to Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, and income has grown 10 percent in the last 12 months. Pretty impressive considering the tough economic climate of the past few years.

How does this fit into our customer experience definition? Nowhere does that mention having happy, engaged, and empowered employees. Your employees are part of those intangible elements that are as difficult to control as they are to define.

It’s your employees’ attitude, tone of voice, and manner that leave an impression on every person who comes into contact with your business from potential customers to sales reps to plant managers.

Your employees impact the tangible part of your customer experience as well. The facts they convey, and the quality of products or services they produce are just two examples that affect what happens to your customers.

You can see it: it almost seems silly to think they wouldn’t have an impact on your customer experience.

Mattel CEO Bob Eckert said it quite succinctly in an article from Business Management, “People like to be around happy people,” Eckert insists in his office up on the 15th floor. “We spend so much time and energy at work, you really need to enjoy it; if you don’t like your job, go get another. It’s just a waste of a lifetime otherwise.”

Incidentally, Mattel also made the Fortune list of great places to work and its income is up 31 percent in the last 12 months.

I’ve talked about two consumer businesses today but the principle of linked employee and customer experiences is true for any kind of organization. How do your employees factor into your customer experience? As a business leader how do you go about empowering your employees to provide the customer experience you have defined for your target market?

Note: photo by ferret111 via FlickR Creative Commons

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Linda Ireland
Linda Ireland is co-owner and partner of Aveus LLC, a global strategy and operational change firm that helps leaders find money in the business performance chain while improving customer experiences. As author of Domino: How to Use Customer Experience to Tip Everything in Your Business toward Better Financial Performance, Linda built on work done at Aveus and aims to deliver real-life, actionable, how-to help for leaders of any organization.


  1. This article touched something that would seem obvious but it’s not. Employee experience, empowering your employees, and so on having an ongoing impact on your customers experience with your company.

  2. Great comments here – appreciate Jim and our guest extending our thinking on the impact of an organization’s employee experience. In different ways you each confirmed that magical things can happen when a group of people share a common passion about a clear end in mind.

    Thanks to you both for stopping by.


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