Employee Experience Drives the Customer Experience: But It’s Not Just About the Frontline

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I’ve had a lot of conversations in recent weeks about how the employee experience drives the customer experience, but the part that stands out from these conversations is the common thread: that the customer experience only happens via, or is only shaped by, the frontline employees.

That is just not true.

When I’ve addressed this latter point, I’m always asked, “Well, then how do I connect the dots for the backoffice folks?” I love to answer this question.

Back in 2014, I wrote a post about six tools to use to provide employees with a clear line of sight to the “target,” the customer. I’ll start with those, and I’ll add one more very important tool.

  • Vision and customer experience intent statement. These two statements, which are similar, draw your employees’ eyes to what it’s all about: the customer. The customer experience vision is higher-level, forward-thinking, and linked to your corporate vision, while the intent statement is quite specific to designing individual interactions and transactions.
  • Values. Your core values are beliefs that guide you in identifying which behaviors and actions are right and which are wrong, both for your employees and toward your customers. Everything you do must be aligned with your values, and they should be integrated into everything you do. In other words, every employee must live them. Be sure you’ve got a customer-centric value or two, and make sure to not only socialize but operationalize.
  • Brand promise. This promise to your customers should be reflected in everything you do. All employees must live and breathe it. Consistency across the board is key. It sets expectations and defines the benefits customers can expect to receive when they engage in your services or use your products, when they experience your brand.
  • Voice of the customer. There’s no better way to make that connection than listening to customers and ensuring that their feedback is shared (and acted upon) throughout the organization; this helps connect the dots for employees – they hear how what they do relates to, and translates into, what the customer experiences.
  • Journey map. While the mapping is done by customers, stakeholders will be observing the workshop. Stakeholders from various departments of the organization should be involved. Think upstream and downstream. Make sure attendees have a stake in the game, that they have a vested interest in the journeys being mapped and can advocate for what they learn during the workshop to their departments and the rest of the organization
  • Communication. This is perhaps the umbrella tool over the other five. It’s important on its own, but it must also be used in conjunction with any other tool that provides that line of sight. What gets shared and communicated throughout the organization is viewed as important to your employees. And communication lends clarity, which is critical to a clear line of sight.

The other tool that I’ll add to this list is probably the most-effective one: a service blueprint. It outlines the people, tools, systems, policies, and processes that support and facilitate the experience the customer is having; it is created in conjunction with the journey you’ve mapped. By linking the service blueprint to the customer’s journey, you’ve got that end-to-end picture of the journey plus the surface to core view, giving you the complete picture of what’s working and what’s not. And giving your employees, especially backoffice employees, a clear line of sight to where and how they impact the customer experience.

If you’ve got any other tools you use to make the connection for employees, let me know in the comments below. If you’ve been struggling to make that connection for all of your employees – not just the frontline – these tools should set you well on your way! And, importantly, all of these tools are meant to improve the employee experience, which means they’ll have what they need to deliver a great customer experience – from the frontline and the backoffice.

No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it. –H.E. Luccock

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