The relationship between employee experience and customer experience has long been discussed. Without engaged employees, we’re told, it’s difficult to create great experiences for customers. And the data appears to back this assertion. A 2019 study from Glassdoor found that, for every 1-star improvement out of 5 in an employer’s rating, that company achieved a 1.3-point increase in customer satisfaction, a statistically significant correlation.
Despite our knowledge of the relationship between employee and customer experience and the importance of great experiences to our businesses, several important questions for CX practitioners remain. Where should leaders begin when it comes to cultural transformation—with employee experience or customer experience? Should these be concurrent efforts, or separate? How do leaders overcome legacy mindsets that can serve as barriers for change?
I recently moderated a panel discussion of experts (view the recording here) who discussed these and other key questions. Bob Azman, CCXP, Founder & CXO of Innovative CX Solutions, Vishal Bhalla, CPXP, Chief Experience Officer & VP at Parkland Hospital, Richard Charette, AVP of Experience Design at Wells Fargo, Gary David, Founder & Integrated Experience Analyst at ethno-analytics and professor at Bentley University, and Liliana Petrova, CCXP, CEO & Founder of the Petrova Experience offered their unique perspectives on the call, which was produced in partnership between the Customer Experience Professionals Association and Corinium Global Intelligence.
When discussing the critical question of where to begin transformation efforts, these thought leaders stressed three imperatives.
Get Clear on True Goals—And Measure What Matters
“What are the reasons we are embarking on this transformation to begin with?” Gary David says it is critical for employers to be clear on the goals they are trying to achieve and that they are not simply seeking to change because everyone else is doing it. He adds that legacy metrics should be carefully examined to ensure they are the best metrics for the kind of organization the business is trying to create. Using employee retention as an example, he argues that a higher attrition rate “may not be bad, if you’re training people so well that they’re finding better opportunities elsewhere.”
Equip Managers with the Skills They Need
Richard Charette says that companies need to focus on equipping people-managers with interpersonal communication skills that promote “radical candor.” As a manager, to be able to open up your people, that requires a change. We need to get our staff to be able to open up.”
Bob Azman agrees. “We have to change behaviors and adjust to a new behavioral standard we’re putting in place. We have to help manage change by painting a clear picture of how we get from point A to point B in this new environment.”
Involve All Levels in the Change Effort
At Parkland, staff used analytics to identify the top three drivers of employee engagement based on the team member engagement survey. The action planning process started with front-line staff, subsequently cascading upward. Each group of team members created tactics to address issues and then cascaded it to their managers, who were then tasked with creating plans to support their team’s efforts. Vishal Bhalla said that this bottom-up approach created better buy-in and engagement. “Enabling front-line team members and giving them the opportunity to fix things empowers them, and they connect back with their purpose. This makes the change sustainable as it is built by them, and supported by the leaders.”
Liliana Petrova agrees, noting “the voice of the employees is not always in the room when we design experiences.” Giving employees a seat at the table in the design process is critical. “Someone needs to bring an empathetic view of what we are doing and for whom.”
But the most important factor in experience transformation might be a willingness to act. “Look at your surroundings, and don’t wait,” says Charette. “You can impact the employee experience in any role.”
To listen to the full conversation, which includes discussion around the difference between experience and engagement, prioritization, and making the case to executives, click here.
Still have some professional development dollars left in the budget? It’s not too late to register for CCO’s Fall Conference! I’ll be there—and I hope to see you there, too!
 Zhao, D., & Chamberlain, A. (2019, August 7). Happy Employees, Satisfied Customers: The Link Between Glassdoor Reviews and Customer Satisfaction. Retrieved October 7, 2019, from https://www.glassdoor.com/research/app/uploads/sites/2/2019/08/GD-Customer-Employee-Satisfaction-Report-2019-Final-2.pdf.