Employees are the heart of your business. If you want to remain competitive in today’s marketplace, investing in people is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a must have.
In the war for customer acquisition, businesses invest millions of dollars to improve customer experience. They deliver packages faster, churn out new products, and endlessly revamp their UI, often putting greater strain on employees for diminishing returns. According to Tiffani Bova, this siloed focus on customer experience—without considering the impact on your staff—actually hinders growth in the long run. The most successful companies adopt an Experience Mindset that strengthens both employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX) at the same time.
In the excerpt below, Bova shows us what that looks like in practice.
The Experience Mindset in Practice
Consider a situation where a company’s customers demanded a new service that employees dread performing. Should the com pany offer that service anyway in the name of “customer centricity”? What about firing the employees who are most disgruntled about this customer demand and replacing them with new hires who are less likely to share their real opinions? Applying the Experience Mindset to that question, the answer should be obvious: neither is the right response.
In a scenario like this, a far better option would be for leaders to use employee pushback as a conversation starter, asking those who are most resistant to the new service for direct feedback. That feedback might end up uncovering a solution that would increase satisfaction for both the customer and the employee at the same time. Don’t let the old saying “The customer is always right” lead you astray—a company shouldn’t automatically do whatever the customer wants, or thinks they want, especially at the expense of employees.
Employees must be given the opportunity to provide feed back on new offerings (products or services), not just from a feature and functionality standpoint but also in terms of how these new offerings impact their day-to-day working lives. That way, when the challenge arises, employees, feeling heard, will be more likely to understand and accept why they have to do something a certain way, and know how to get it done.
Imagine if an IT department were to deploy a new sales technology called Chat that allowed the company’s sales reps to engage with customers virtually. The company’s executives are excited because they’ve been hearing that Chat is something their customers have been asking for. But there’s an issue they had not foreseen. Chat was rolled out quickly so it isn’t integrated into the existing customer relationship management (CRM) system, nor was there any true explanation on why it was being deployed or input from the sellers themselves about how they could use it.
In fact, if they had been asked, the sales reps would have explained that Chat was not something they wanted, unless it was easily accessible via their CRM system; otherwise, it only added more complexity to their jobs. In such a situation, do you think those reps would immediately embrace that tech or would they dread using it? Wouldn’t the more ideal scenario be to ask sales what processes—if any—need to be changed, how they might use the new tech, and whether or not it should be integrated into the CRM system?
The short answer is, well of course. Yet, in reality, when sales doesn’t use new tech they’re provided with (and I can tell you from experience, this happens all the time), executives start to ask IT why no one is using the new tools that have been deployed. The standard response is to place blame on the sales team members and not on the fact that it was a less than optimal deployment (more on this in Chapter 7).
By comparison, if IT had shared the fact that customers wanted the ability to chat with sales, then gotten the employees involved in how best to deploy such a feature—including integrating Chat with the CRM system, updating current processes, and enabling salespeople with the proper training—adoption would have been much less of an issue. Unfortunately, the option of asking employees what they need to do their jobs, and how they use the systems and tools given to them, is rarely part of the technology planning process. Instead, it happens after the fact, forcing unnecessary burdens and expectations on all involved.
The example can work in the other direction as well: you may have employees who love doing some aspect of their job, but customers no longer value it. Should you continue to offer that service to appease employees? Or should you simply eliminate it altogether? What if your employees don’t feel a connection with, or commitment to, the customers because of this change in their responsibilities? Would you just hire new employees at that point?
Again, in this situation, it would be better to ensure employees’ voices are empowered and protected. By asking your employees what they think, you show them you value their opinions and are willing to truly listen to their suggestions or complaints. This approach builds trust, which is sorely missing—no more than 46 percent of employees agree that their companies pro vide this type of two way dialogue.
The ultimate goal should be to ensure alignment between the efforts and expectations of employees and those of the customers before settling on a solution to any problem. You must take into account the implications, good and bad, to each constituency everywhere and always. Though you may not be able to benefit both equally all the time, you can strike a fair balance.
This approach may make some leaders a bit uncomfortable since the default is usually to put customers first, as the research indicates. But it will enable companies to right the wrongs of the imbalance created by decades of putting the customer above all else. Employees will recognize and appreciate this change, with great results for the company and its growth. The result of this kind of equity can be spectacular: research shows that employees who report having a positive employee experience have sixteen times the engagement versus their counterparts with a negative experience—and are eight times more likely to want to stay at a company.