How does the Employee Experience impact the Customer Experience?

4 Minutes
EX and CX are two sides of the same coin

Back In 2019, we created the Employee Experience Opportunity (EXO), with our strapline being that: We are on a mission to give Employee Experience parity with Customer Experience. Few organisations currently practice this and so we’ve set out to explain why they should. In short: happy, motivated employees will provide a better service to customers.

Employee Experience and Customer Experience are two equal sides of the same coin

Customer Experience (CX) is a fairly well to very well-established term in business these days. It’s true that the quality of customer service ranges wildly, so not everyone has got it right, but most organisations of size will dedicate time and resources to creating things to help to improve CX such as Customer Journey Maps and Customer Personas, and will spend millions on tools such as Customer Contact Management systems and Customer Relationship Management systems.

It’s generally understood that improvements in CX lead to better organisational performance. Recent success stories, such as Airbnb and Netflix, have differentiated themselves through their CX and it’s this that’s given them the competitive advantage.

That’s all well and good, but, if it works for CX, why not for Employee Experience (EX)? As we keep asking, does your organisation have Employee Journey Maps and Employee Personas? It would be of no surprise to us if it doesn’t, because our research shows that 53% either strongly agree or agree that their organisation values customers more than its employees. Yet given the importance of customers, it’s baffling that only 49% strongly agree or agree that their organisation keeps them up-to-date with what their customers say about them. There’s a disconnect here.

Our experience has been that whereas senior leaders see the benefit of spending money to attract and retain customers, they’re less keen on spending money on attracting and retaining employees. Lots of money is spent on freebie extras for new customers; are you offering your newly hired talent a series of sweeteners as they join?

Respondents to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer ranked the following groups in order of importance to a company achieving long-term success: Customers 38%, Employees 37%, Shareholders 13%, Communities 12%. Almost neck and neck between EX and CX!

Similarly, we see EX and CX as two intertwined tree roots: one root is often watered and given attention, whereas the other is left to dry-out; and you need both to make a strong and stable tree! Your data people probably talk about ‘data being the new gold’ and highlight the importance of good quality data. ‘Rubbish in, rubbish out’ has become a catchphrase. The same is true of your ‘brand experience’—which is the outcome of EX and CX. If you hire rubbish people and give them a rubbish experience, then they’ll provide a rubbish service to your customers.

We look at it like EX x CX = BX2. In other words, get both right, and you’ll offer the best possible brand experience.

We agree with what Denise Lee Yohn says in her book Fusion that you should ‘directly and explicitly integrate your CX with your EX’. Systems and processes should be designed with the customer and employees in mind, and it helps if those responsible for creating the experiences know, understand, and respect the frontline. As CX is more mature than EX, those focusing on the latter can use established tools and methodologies that are successful for the former. There really is no need to do too much reinventing of the wheel.

How it should be easier to achieved ROI on Employee Experience than Customer Experience

Focusing on improving your CX is a waste of time, unless you have the EX bit right first.

It’s easier to improve your EX as you already have your captive audience: your employees. Investment in CX is gambling on attracting new customers and keeping current ones happy. You may or may not obtain new customers and current ones can shop elsewhere, but you will definitely have your employees every day.

Employees choose to work at an organisation. In most cases, there are alternatives available, so something has made them decide to work at yours. It could be the location, the salary, a bigger role, growth plans... whatever it is, they’re at one organisation and not another for at least one reason. With some rare exceptions, people come to work with the hope of doing a good job and fulfilling their duties. People become unmotivated and obstructive because of a poor EX; few join an organisation with the intention of behaving this way.

Furthermore, the salaries of your employees are on the profit and loss each month and are likely to be one of your biggest costs. It makes sense to seek to gain maximum effectiveness from this large, fixed cost.

As we’ve stated before, a major reason why we believe that EX should have parity CX is that an increase in the quality of EX can directly impact the bottom line. How? Largely through productivity gains. Just imagine how much more profitable your organisation would be if, on average, all employees were 5% more productive? If calls were answered 5% quicker, if the first-time resolution rate rose by 5%, if the quality of new hires improved by 5%. Productivity leads to performance which leads to profits.

Think about it: is it easier for your organisation to attract more customers, or to obtain more productivity from your employees? (Which, in turn, can often lead to more customers, which can lead to more sales.) This is why EX needs to be taken seriously.

Many organisations have roles such as Customer Experience Officer and Customer Success Manager, so would it not be sensible to have roles such as Employee Experience Officer and Employee Success Manager? After all, as we make no apologies for repeating: EX and CX are two equal sides of the same coin.

For more Employee Experience definitions, view this page.

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Employee Experience Opportunity survey 2020

Working with the Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC) we ran the 2020 Employee Experience Opportunity (EXO) survey.

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