Can you imagine a business where there’s hardly any interaction between customers and employees? Sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it?
While AI and chatbots can often step in at several points, most businesses looking to deliver a great customer experience and improve retention will ensure the human touch. After all, talking to another person can build trust and it also makes it easier to help customers with the more complex concerns.
Talking to empathetic and concerned employees who are invested in the concern at hand can make customers feel secure and reassured. However, the opposite is also true. Talking to a disengaged and frustrated employee can make customer feel frustrated, and increase churn.
As a result, it takes only one negative interaction with a customer service agent to make or break the entire customer experience. That’s a frightening prospect when you consider the following:
- Studies in 2022 show that 66% of customers lost patience with business representatives delivering inflexible, dysfunctional service, falling short of the fast, convenient, and personalized experience they expected.
- 33% of customers admit they’ve vented at an incompetent employee on more than one occasion.
When you think about human nature, people on both sides of the divide pass through different moods, have a bad day, or experience a lapse in patience. So, anything can happen in any interaction. That’s why it’s important to see both employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX) under the same spotlight, providing a more holistic perspective of the entire process.
It doesn’t take a long article to tell us that unhappy, unengaged employees are likely to corrupt a CX if they get the chance to do it – consciously or unconsciously. So, the following sections dive deeper into the subject to explain in detail how an engaging EX relates to the ideal CX for every organization.
What is employee experience?
Every employee passes through a lifecycle in the company, stepping from one touchpoint to the next from the time they join to retirement or resignation. EX embraces dives into how employees feel about their time in the organization. It extends from boss/subordinate relationships to peer interactions, fitting in with the organizational culture, learning curve, and realizing ambitions.
Maintaining an immersive EX – the epitome of employee commitment and loyalty – is vital before allowing staff to connect with customers. Long-term employees (i.e., reflecting high retention) are more likely to contribute to a productive and cooperative work environment as part of a team that shares accomplishments.
Interestingly, everyone glibly says, “Customers come first!” There’s nothing wrong with that, except many strategists believe one must instead focus on employee satisfaction as a priority. It makes ultimate sense if you feel a happy, productive, and satisfied team from the top down will resonate with customers.
From another angle, it doesn’t take much imagination to visualize the sales revenue damage a disgruntled, dissatisfied workforce can wreak. Strategizing doesn’t mean choosing between EX and CX – they’re not mutually exclusive. In my view, all the resources management can harness to create a superior EX should work for CX as well. Of course, there are other CX touchpoint responsibilities, but from an EX viewpoint and its impact on customer retention, there’s no conflict.
How does EX impact revenue?
Harvard Business Review researched a large global retail brand, connecting relevant P&L financial data to EX quality metrics (such as longevity). Straightaway, they discovered that customer-facing employees had a seismic impact on revenue, even pointing out that the undeniable correlation rating was understated due to qualitative constructs one can’t measure (such as staff health/wellbeing and corporate culture influences on decisions).
The takeaway from this study is that improving just a few KPIs related to a better EX can boost revenues by 50%. It shows that customers will probably invest their time and money in brands where they feel employee enthusiasm and company contentment.
Happy employees and happy customers: Which comes first?
Glassdoor reviews of companies across 13 industries reflected customer satisfaction (indicated by ratings from the American Customer Satisfaction Index). Harvard, in another study, assembled the latter for analysis, concluding that a steadfast integration between employee and customer satisfaction exists. The researchers further said that any organization aiming to put the customer first cannot get there without initially investing in employee engagement.
Moreover, Harvard points out that some suggest happy customers make employees happy (i.e., the other way around). Their sensitivity tests showed that while it occurs, it’s unusual. Employee contentment is predominantly the cause, not the effect.
How can you build an EX that works?
Firstly, stakeholders can’t build an HR structure on quicksand. In other words, if the fundamentals are missing, all EX efforts will gain little traction. For example, non-competitive compensation packages or inappropriate leadership styles will erode all employee engagement initiatives that follow.
With basics taken care of, three things will have a massive impact:
- Empower employees: Provide employees with the resources and training they need to do their jobs well, especially when it meets with CX. It can make the difference between a collision and a mutually happy engagement.
- Encourage employees: Listen to employees’ suggestions aimed at making the customer journey as smooth as possible.
- Recognize employees: Don’t hesitate to acknowledge and celebrate achievements meaningfully. The most substantial confirmation of an employee’s worth is adopting their ideas and letting the team know where they came from (creating peer recognition simultaneously).
Focusing on the human connection
Let’s go back to another aspect of EX and CX interaction (or lack thereof): digital intrusion into the CX arena. It’s no secret that AI has powered mobile ordering and other customer connections such as request for support, removing CX from human interaction to software facilitators. While it’s possible to conceive an entire tech-guided CJ without talking to a live person, what’s missing from this?
- Interactive stress release
- Interpretive expertise
So, it’s impossible to build the sense of identity and belonging a company can derive from an engaging EX using a machine or software. In addition, it’s challenging to program a digital device to follow a moral compass or think on its feet, recommending unorthodox solutions. How do you inspire a technology to go the extra mile in promoting a brand image for the best possible CX? You simply can’t.
Who killed the sale?
I want to tell you about a 16 MM black-and-white education movie filmed in the 1960s. It’s ancient vintage but relevant to the CX/EX conversation titled – “Who killed the sale?”
The movie covered a series of events around a B2B sale where a dynamic, motivated, energetic salesman gets an order against significant competition. The only thing left to do is a successful execution. Unfortunately, it involves a warehouse manager who sends the wrong product and a truck driver who leaves late and gets pulled over for speeding.
When the buyer complains, he interacts with a rude receptionist and a technical client support agent who doesn’t know much about anything. So, unsurprisingly, the deal falls through. The befuddled salesman asks, “Who killed the sale?” The answer, we can see, is disgruntled staff who, despite his efforts, adopted a “couldn’t care less” attitude, dropping the ball.
The EX impact on CX differs in every business. B2B decisions these days are in the realm of committees that involve buyers, engineers, finance departments, transport, warehousing, and legal. In instances like this, the customer journey can go on for days, weeks, or even months. Business developers must connect directly with all influencers in ways and at times that suit them. In short, it’s a networking process that requires knowledgeable and motivated participants. Unhappy personnel in these positions is a disaster, likely to derail the journey long before a satisfactory conclusion.
On the other end of the spectrum, buying an impulse item or a food takeout moves through a faster process but still requires touchpoints, any one of which can disrupt a customer’s experience. For example, you’re not likely to return to a restaurant where the food was cold, the service poor, or the waiter was rude to you. Unfortunately, CX’s success or failure hinges on something as flimsy as one unwanted incident on the way to the cash till. Sometimes, the culprit is digital, but mostly, an employee goes rogue.
In short, all teams contribute to create a great customer’s experience, and the service quality you deliver is only as strong as the weakest member. Negative company cultures can quickly contaminate a team’s motivation, with a “domino-effect” on CX. The net result of customer and employee churn is poisonous to profitability.
So, it’s crucial to ensure your employee satisfaction is stable using benchmarks and KPIs.
Sogolytics is a great platform to help you better understand your customer and employee experience. With easy and interactive surveys, powerful analytics, and intuitive integrations, you can better understand the key metrics that are critical to your success. With this in your armory, you can create an ever-evolving and improving CX and EX journey that sets you on the path to success.
Ready to learn more? Connect with our team today and get a free demo of our platform!