How Your CX Program Can Survive the Holiday Season Supply Chain Crunch


Share on LinkedIn

The ripple effects of pandemic-driven supply disruptions have created a series of new challenges for U.S. retailers ahead of the holiday shopping season, a business period that accounted for $755 billion in sales in 2020. As global shipping delays and raw material shortages have led to bare store shelves and, in turn, consumer anxieties, the margin for error for exceeding customer expectations is tighter than ever before. A recent Oracle consumer research study found that 1/3rd of shoppers are worried about an inability to purchase everything on their wish lists. However, holiday retail sales are still projected to rise by as much as 9% and reach $1.3 trillion in profit.

The retail winners of the 2021 holiday shopping season will be the organizations that can alleviate consumer worries by lessening the impact of the supply chain crunch. Retailers need to ensure their business practices are aligned with the evolving needs of both customers and employees in order to capitalize on holiday shopping profit potential – a key component to fostering growth and sustained success. Establishing a clear understanding of their needs, as well as how they may be heightened due to the unprecedented supply chain challenges, requires a big picture look at your company’s human experience (HX), which includes both customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX).

After all, employees aren’t just employees. And customers aren’t just customers either. They’re people first, with expectations and desires that impact their engagement and behaviors. Employee engagement drives performance, while consumer behaviors drive sales, so in order for organizations to solve any operational issues and overcome pandemic-driven obstacles, their EX and CX must be working in unison.

By leveraging advanced technology that transforms employee and customer feedback into actionable, data-driven insights, organizations can take proactive steps toward a seamless HX that empowers them to exceed business goals. Establishing HX starts with the following three steps.

Prioritize the Experience Balance

It’s critical to equally prioritize both EX and CX insights in order to integrate them effectively for quick results. Without that balance, the feedback loops fail to offer accurate depictions of how their experiences influence one another toward creating a healthy workplace environment and a healthy business. For example, collecting feedback from employees via ongoing digital surveys on customer service quality can identify areas of needed improvement on the CX side, which in turn improves their ability to offer positive customer experiences. Enlisting employees to offer perspective on this type of information shows them that their opinions are valued. Employees that feel their voice is heard will in turn have higher levels of engagement, which is a critical component to employee retention and staff performance.

Create a Customer-Centric Workforce

By assembling a team of employees who understand and value the importance of offering quality customer service, organizations can streamline EX and CX alignment through a customer-centric workforce. The essence of HX is emotional intelligence, which enables employees to understand when and why customer expectations are not met, and then identify the best course of action to rectify the situation. These types of interactions drive positive experiences for both the employee and the customer – showing the latter that their needs are always a top priority. With this in mind, human resources professionals should be focusing on hiring talent – whether for long-term employment or as part of an immediate holiday rush staff-up — with emotional intelligence, not just skills and experience.

Foster Employee Empowerment

After creating a customer-centric workforce, it’s imperative for organizations to take it another step further by actively seeking guidance from their employees on how to empower them to deliver on the needs of customers. Employee empowerment can come in many forms and fashions; ranging from optimized workflows and extensive training that maximizes productivity to flexible scheduling that helps maintain adequate staff levels amidst the current widespread labor shortages. Considering employees are ones actually on the front-lines day in and day out, their insights offer the most accurate depiction of the essentials that will best position them to succeed. By acting on their feedback to foster a culture of empowerment, organizations can leverage EX improvements to boost CX.

Maximize the Value of EX and CX Insights

The structure of an organization’s insight analyst team can make or break its ability to generate real, impactful value from EX and CX data. It’s not enough to solely compile insights; knowing how to analyze the data, identify anomalies and then act on them is even more important. Executing each step of the process requires a holistic strategy centered around HX. This mission should be fueled by various organizational leaders from across departments — Human Resources, Customer Service, PR and Marketing, Finance, Data Analytics, etc. — who all bring a diverse range of experience and expertise to the table. This melting pot of perspectives helps avoid a siloed approach to analyzing EX and CX insights — instead generating effective cross-company collaboration that maximizes a unified HX across the entire organization.

From staff productivity and organizational culture to customer loyalty and profit potential, HX is the engine that drives business growth. With the right HX-focused approach, organizations can develop the agility to weather a volatile holiday supply chain crunch and make meaningful progress toward sustained success for years to come.

Mark Ratekin
Mark is a Principal Consultant of Global CX Consulting at Forsta. He is an experienced executive with more than 25 years of experience in customer strategy consulting, operations management, finance and analysis. Mark serves as a member of the Board of Directors for CXPA, and he frequently serves as an adjunct professor of strategy and change management.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here