It’s glaringly obvious that you won’t be in business long if your customers aren’t happy. Organizations devote a lot of resources toward cultivating customer-centric brands, but often forget that great customer experiences rely on employees who are happy and engaged with their work. A great employee experience is the foundation of developing great customer experiences.
In a 2016 letter to shareholders, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explains that being a customer-centric organization is so much more than sustaining satisfied customers. Even if customers are happy and business is good, customers will always have some level of dissatisfaction and want something more. A truly obsessive customer focus requires a desire to delight customers and invent great experiences on their behalf before they even know they want it. Bezos claims that when you forget this, you’re already on your way down.
Engaged, happy employees will naturally seek ways to delight customers. Tempkin Group’s Employee Engagement Benchmark Study found that companies known for excellent customer experiences have one and half times more engaged employees than companies known for subpar customer experiences.
Your customer’s journey begins with your employees, and developing a customer-centric company means getting employees excited about generating new customer experience concepts. New studies are finding there’s a direct link between employee engagement and great customer experiences, and the employee experience has been deemed so critical to business success that it was named a top digital workplace trend for 2017, and is expected to be a main focus in the years to come.
Connecting great employee experiences to great customer experiences is easier than you might think. This guide shows you how to do it.
Listen to Employees and Act on Their Ideas
Famed brand Warby Parker is known for creating amazing customer experiences at every touch point, and if you’ve ever visited one of their stores or talked to any of their employees, it’s pretty clear that they are engaged with their work and fully committed to the brand’s core values. CEO Neil Blumenthal says that a positive employee experience is integral to the company’s core beliefs, and the company places a huge emphasis on ensuring employees feel engaged with their work. One way they do this is to ask employees to submit a weekly “Innovation Idea,” in which employees can suggest absolutely any idea they want. The company’s executives actively engage with those ideas, and will oftentimes act on them.
The Warby Parker example is something that’s easy to implement, and goes a long way in ensuring employees feel valued, especially when they witness their ideas having an impact in the marketplace. Communication tools like an Intranet and chat apps make it easy for organizations to survey employees, and get them engaged by encouraging an open forum for ideas and creativity, regardless of job title or department.
Easy, Accessible Internal Communication
Employees at most organizations are typically siloed and segmented based on department or job title, a setup that once appeared to make perfect sense in the traditional workplace. However, as the digital workplace evolves it’s become clear that people want easy, low-barrier ways to form connections with each other.
Using digital workplace tools like chat apps and an Intranet breaks down those traditional office silos, allowing workers to easily engage with one another regardless of department or job title. Whether it’s an open forum for an entire department to discuss a new concept or initiative, a one-on-one between two employees from different departments who want to collaborate, or a company-wide call to action, employees will be happier and more engaged when communication flows seamlessly.
Open, easy internal communication will have a direct impact on all outward-facing channels, as employees will have access to the people and tools they need to motivate personal creativity and take customer experience ideas from concept to reality.
High Engagement from Company Leaders
A report by McKinsey found that high engagement from company leaders with people at all levels of an organization is key to developing engaged employees who will help create great customer experiences. Executives who model behavior they want to encourage, such as enthusiasm for creativity and open communication, have a strong impact on how all employees experience the workplace and their level of engagement.
Intranets and chat apps make it easy for executives to openly share ideas and engage with employees, and can use these platforms to illustrate that an open, transparent culture is a core value. Executives need to be deliberate with their engagement in order for it to have a positive impact on employees, and using the right communication tools makes it easy to maintain consistency.
Show How Employee Actions Impact Customers
People feel good when they know their work is making a difference. If your employees can’t see how their work is impacting customers, their enthusiasm for creating great customer experiences will eventually disappear.
Not all employees engage directly with customers, but every single position has some sort of impact. Develop a space where specific metrics, stories, or other factors that play into determining the levels of customer satisfaction can be openly shared and engaged with throughout your organization. Whether it’s a satisfied customer who tweeted about your brand’s awesomeness, or an uptick in the number of positive customer reviews in the iTunes store, there are many avenues for customers to express their feelings, and aggregating that information in one place where employees can easily see it and comment on it will go a long way to connecting them with your customers.
It’s not difficult to connect great employee experiences to great customer experiences, but it does require pairing a change in company culture with supportive digital workplace tools like an Intranet that empower organizations to communicate and collaborate easily and openly. Enabling productivity, increasing transparency, and breaking down traditional barriers makes employees happier and more likely to want to share their internal company experience with the outside world -- and that translates to the desire to delight customers in new and innovative ways.