Does your customer or employee come first? Answer: Yes


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This continues my review of the 2013 Temkin Award Winners and how they match the Heart of the Customer model. As I reviewed the award winners, it quickly becomes obvious that this really isn’t an either/or question.  Both are critical to success. Let’s look at how three award winners drive both employee and customer engagement.

Bombardier Aerospace

As with many companies, Bombardier’s customer focus is clear from your first day at work, when all employees receive a Customer Credo card with their company badge.  And they measure employee engagement – a critical first step in engaging employees. But these two are hardly revolutionary.  So why does it work so well for them?

Perhaps it’s because they further engage employees on the customer experience through their employee incentive plan’s inclusion of “Amazing Customer Experience,” which includes compensation for all employees (not just managers) based on improvements in customer satisfaction, serving customers, and celebrating collective achievements.

Things that stand out – and that you probably aren’t doing: Bombardier includes variable compensation for all employees based on customer experience scores, and they also compensate based on how well they celebrate achievements – another key piece of the Heart of the Customer model.


Fidelity does a lot right, as featured in my previous article. Fidelity bases their associate surveys on the concept of Employee NPS, which measures their associates’ likelihood to recommend Fidelity as a place to work and the likelihood to recommend Fidelity to a friend or family member as a place to invest their savings.  We could have a long debate about how NPS works for employees, but the concept is certainly sound.

They tie the employee experience to the customer by embedding customer experience principles into their hiring, onboarding and ongoing training practices. They have explicit customer-focus questions in their interview guides, and have standardized new hire onboarding to introduce new associates to Fidelity’s focus on the customer, CX principles and best practices.

They also include regularly coaching based on Voice of the Customer feedback and sales and service interaction models that feature customer experience principles.

Similar to Bombardier, Fidelity includes customer experience measurements in variable compensation for frontline employees – a practice only used by those who are serious about improving their customer experience. All bonus scorecards include the Net Promoter score, creating consistency throughout the company.

Things that stand out – and that you probably aren’t doing: In addition to including customer-based compensation for front-lien employees, Fidelity explicitly screens for customer values in their hiring process.  By following this with customer-focused onboarding, Fidelity creates a culture that ensures that their employees understand what is most important – their customers.


There’s a theme here, in that the only variable income for their field organization is based on customer-focused metrics.

They also dispense with the “Customer or Employee first” argument by recognizing the relationship between the two.  In their words,

“We also believe employee engagement is a cycle: engaged employees deliver better service, but having a reputation for great customer service also motivates employees. In 2011 (a year when engagement scores are dropping by an average of 2-3 points in companies across the country), Safelite® delivered a 5% increase to reach 76% overall engagement, which is within the top 25% of Best-in-Class industry results.”

Things that stand out – and that you probably aren’t doing: Most organizations have little or no variable compensation for field employees.  But the biggest thing is their success: 76% engagement is an impressive result for any organization, particularly one with such a widespread footprint.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jim Tincher
Jim sees the world in a special way: through the eyes of customers. This lifelong passion for CX, and a thirst for knowledge, led him to found his customer experience consulting firm, Heart of the Customer (HoC). HoC sets the bar for best practices and are emulated throughout the industry. He is the author of Do B2B Better and co-author of How Hard Is It to Be Your Customer?, and he also writes Heart of the Customer’s popular CX blog.



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