Happy customers are the lifeline of any business.
Today, customers have come to expect more from businesses. Delivering exceptional customer experiences is key to outperform the competition and win over customers. In the long run, it helps in gaining customer loyalty. But how do you create such memorable experiences for your customers consistently?
In recent years, we’ve come across some legendary customer service stories – like when Southwest Airlines saved the dress and ‘the day’ for a bridesmaid.
But here’s the deal – it takes a lot more than a one-off grand gesture to keep your customers delighted! As an organization, you need to be consistently invested in delivering excellent customer experiences – you need to be invested in your employees.
That’s right, happy employees make for happy customers. Businesses are now slowly starting to understand that Employee Experiences (EX) and Customer Experiences (CX) can no longer be treated as two separate disciplines. To reap greater rewards, there is a dire need to align EX with CX.
We’ve got a lot to unpack here and we’re going to help you break this down step-by-step. Let’s first understand what aligning EX with CX means.
Table of Contents
- Breaking down silos: Aligning EX with CX
- How will aligning EX with CX help your business?
- The alignment can be challenging: What’s the fix?
- 5 ways to align EX with CX
- The way forward
Breaking down silos: Aligning EX with CX
With break-neck competition, you might be looking to cement your position in the hearts and minds of people by delivering great customer experiences. While you’re striving to put your customers first, many a time you tend to overlook the value of engaged and happy employees. It’s important to understand that merging EX and CX efforts translate to accelerated growth and can improve business decision-making.
There is a strong data-backed link that proves that an organization’s ability to deliver excellent customer experiences is closely associated with nurturing a happier workforce. According to a recent study by Forbes Insights, close to 70% of executives are of the opinion that improved EX results in improved CX.
Guilty of driving your EX and CX programs in isolation? Happens to the best of businesses out there. What’s important here is to realize that when building a customer-first culture and strategy, boosting employee morale should no longer be an afterthought but a priority.
How will aligning EX with CX help your business?
When you merge two driving forces of your business – your EX and CX programs, you’re not only laying the groundwork for valuable relationships but you’re giving your business a competitive edge.
Aligning EX with CX will have a massive impact on business performance and eventually, the bottom line. While businesses that prioritize EX and CX efforts witness double the revenue growth, disengaged employees can cost you more than you can imagine. According to a Gallup poll, disengaged employees cost businesses $450 billion to $550 billion every year!
You need to explain to customers, employees, and stakeholders across the company the value of aligning EX with CX.
Creating a strong alignment between EX and CX can offer benefits that pay off immensely. Let’s run by a few quickly:
- Aligning EX with CX will bring about much-needed agility that will help you stay on top of changing market landscapes and shifting customer expectations.
When you’re up against rising customer expectations, your employees need to be invested in finding out what your customers need. You also need to focus on digital transformation. Take the case of Adidas – they have been committed to offering great digital customer experiences. With their teams closely following up on online customer feedback, they realized the growing demand for sustainable goods in the market. Within just a year, they went on to produce and sell over one million pairs of shoes made from ocean waste.
- Next up, deepening the alignment between EX and CX will set your business up for success. We’re talking increased sales and greater profits, down the line. Accenture reports that companies with great EX and highly engaged workforces are 21% more profitable than their counterparts.
- Lastly, aligning EX with CX will help you build an employee-centric culture and not just a customer-centric culture that is paramount to your business growth and organizational development. Employee engagement levels go hand in hand with the organization’s turnover rates.
Not only do engaged employees outperform disengaged employees by 14% but it’s also reported that winners of the Gallup Great Workplace Award experienced 115% growth in EPS, whereas their competitors only experienced 27% growth for the same period.
The alignment can be challenging: What’s the fix?
Alright, so by now we take it you’re sold on how significant aligning EX with CX is for your business. So, what next?
Senior leaders across the board from CEOs, COOs, and VPs have understood the positive impact of connecting EX and CX efforts. In this virtuous cycle where great EX efforts lead to greater CX, how do you link the two strategies to further enhance your business performance?
What you first need to understand here is, that these two disciplines are not given the same weightage within the organization.
Customer experience is already an evolved entity that is owned by marketing and product teams and is being constantly measured. On the downside – employee experience, and efforts to prioritize it, are still in their infancy stage. As per a Gartner report, close to 46% of employees say that employee experiences are not satisfactory.
You must be able to factor in the two perspectives and the impact that they will have on your business equally. Identifying this is what will help your business chalk out well-thought-out plans for aligning EX with CX. Let’s look at how this can be achieved.
5 ways to align EX with CX
Aligning EX with CX demands a shift in thinking across the organization. While bringing about this organizational change is no easy feat, top management has a critical role to play in the convergence of these two entities.
We’ll now dive into the five ways to align EX with CX for better business outcomes:
1. Measure the impact of aligning EX with CX
You should be able to track the mutual benefits of EX and CX efforts and not just measure their success metrics in isolation. This is easier said than done. You need to adopt a dual metric strategy wherein any substantial change to an employee experience can be measured based on the perceptions of customer experiences.
Let’s look at it with an example – say your team is unable to stay on top of incoming customer emails, so you help them out with a shared inbox where tracking and assigning customer emails can be done seamlessly. What you need to do is build a connection between the employee and customer experiences. Your employees are able to respond easily to customers and your customers are happy with the instant responses that they are receiving!
This becomes a key metric of your dual impact strategy. Being able to measure the combined impact will help you nail down your organization’s return on experiences.
Quick customer responses can go a long way in keeping your customers coming back for more. Along with coffee, Starbucks is serving up great customer service with their quick responses on social media. And this has got their customers raving about them on Twitter.
Starbucks focuses on improving customer service from within (read: employee engagement). With a goal to turn employees into brand evangelists, Starbucks organizes ‘Leadership Lab’ conferences for their employees and refers to their team members as ‘partners’ instead of employees.
2. Drill in EX and CX efforts to your organization’s core
If you’re looking for an opportunity to connect EX with CX programs, then start from the core – the purpose of your business.
Aligning EX with CX must be the bedrock of your business goals. This is what will drive greater experiences for both your employees and your customers. It’s imperative for your business to understand that your company’s success is hugely impacted by a strong combination of EX and CX-centric initiatives. Teams across the organization must be driven with the sole purpose of combining EX and CX programs.
Let’s take the case of Wegmans – this supermarket chain has employee engagement at the heart of everything they do. They spent over $50 million on employee development and have been featured on Fortune’s ‘100 Best Places to Work’ list for more than 20 years. That’s not all, the company today pulls in a revenue of $6.2 billion a year – a testament to how great employee experience drives revenue growth.
3. Drive the organizational change through leadership
You cannot ignore the role of leadership here. If you’re looking to bring in a change that impacts your organization on every level, then your leadership and top management need to be leading the pack from the front.
Though businesses have been focused on employee and customer experience strategies separately, converging the two would need guidance from the top. Consider adding leadership positions like Chief Experience Officer to build teams that solely focus on the strategic alignment of EX with CX.
Not only should leaders value their employees and customers but they also need to define and set an example of how they want their employees to take on these combined initiatives.
4. Experimentation is key
Most businesses are new to this concept of bringing EX and CX together. The absence of a blueprint to guide your efforts in this department should make way for opportunities that support experimentation.
Leaders should build an atmosphere of learning from experimentation and unexpected outcomes.
The onus again is on the leadership team to promote a culture of taking calculated risks. This should be coupled with encouraging employees to learn and gain insights from experimentation. This is what will help your business create mutually rewarding experiences across the EX and CX space.
5. Stimulate an environment of innovation
Talking about experimentation, fostering a culture of innovation is equally important to drive EX and CX alignment.
Today, innovation is essential to stay in the game. You should give your employees the freedom to explore their curiosity – a space where innovation comes naturally to them. This is what will lead to creating collaborative spaces that connect customers and employees. This will, in turn, will create positive experiences and improved business results.
Lamborghini sets a great example of prioritizing innovation in the workplace. Lamboforce is an internal event that encourages employees to ideate and find innovative ways to adopt emerging technologies. The result?
Albeit the pandemic’s turbulent effects, Lamborghini had record-breaking sales in the second half of 2020.
The way forward
Championing customer service should start with aligning your EX and CX efforts. Offering stellar, praise-worthy employee experiences is what will set your business apart and give you that much-needed competitive edge.
Aligning EX with CX promises explosive growth and businesses that remain undecided about combining the two risk falling behind. The role of employee experiences in improving customer experiences is indispensable and teaming up the two will drive greater results.