The practice of customer experience is all about customers – the people who purchase your products and services. In the past several years, customer experience (CX) professionals have created a rigor and framework around how we understand customer’s needs, how we design better experiences, how we measure the impact of their engagement on the organization and how we innovate to improve their lives.
CX professionals help organizations think about the human experience and transform to new ways of working to create customer and organizational value. Successful organizations have realized the importance of their people in their organization are most integral to their success. Their employees, their human capital, their internal resources, their greatest assets – whatever term is used, it is the humans in an organization that make it work.
Many companies have seen the value of investing in CX. Paying attention to your customers, and optimizing every channel, every touchpoint, every interaction is proven to increase engagement, likelihood to return, brand loyalty, referrals, and ultimately, revenue. When we look at the “other” side of human experience – employee experience – we can see the same benefits. When we create better experiences and engage employees, it reduces hiring cost, increases tenure and productivity, decreases churn, and strengthens your brand.
The Employee Experience Framework
We look to employees to deliver great experiences to our customers, yet many of us miss the opportunity to create great experiences for them. Customer experience professionals are well poised to bring this transformation and can help organizations to create and design these experiences as well. This can drive positive change so employees can deliver experiences to your customers and create internal business value.
Think about the tenure and productivity that can be gained if new recruits are welcomed, presented with well-planned onboarding programs, and are clear on their expectations out of the gate. On the flip side, consider the productivity and morale that’s lost when it takes employees 20-30 minutes to do something such as scheduling a conference room or searching for information to do their job. The effort, time, and resulting frustration – just like our consumer experience – have an impact on how they act, how long they stay, what they say about us. And this has an impact on how they treat customers, retention, word-of-mouth and other brand impacting factors.
Through launching an employee engagement strategy, companies have the opportunity to show their employees that they care enough to pay attention to their needs, identify issues, and reap the benefits that an excellent employee experience can bring.
This approach is more than what I call “Beyond the Bagels.” While benefits and perks are important, what employees really want is to be involved , contribute to the success of the organization, feel valued and respected, to have the opportunity to grow and develop, and access to proper leadership. It is about building experiences for them with the same attention and rigor we give to customers.
The first step in changing to employee centricity is to build a business case with executives. This can take many forms, but to prove out why employee experience is a worthwhile investment, be sure to clearly explain the current gaps and inefficiencies in employee experience, and how this ties back to the company’s bottom line.
- Create a cross-functional team – With support from the executives, charter a cross-functional team that has deep, lasting knowledge of the processes, programs, and frameworks that make your company tick. Focus on understanding the current employee experience. What do you know about your employees today? How long are they staying? Why are they leaving? What pain points, challenges, and barriers do they face on a day-to-day basis? Conduct interviews, review previous employee surveys and gather as much information as you can about their experience.
- Map the employee journey – After the data collection phase is complete, it’s time to do an employee journey map. This should be a comprehensive representation of what a typical employee goes through every day – their hurdles, frustrations, and wins.
- Next, identify potential opportunities to redesign the highest-friction experiences that many of your employees face. To pinpoint which opportunity you should start with, perform a quick impact and value analysis. Which opportunity would, if solved, would make the most impact, be most valuable? Also, identify some quick wins to create momentum and demonstrate the focus on employee experience. And then create a roadmap to tackle the other opportunities.
- Design – You’ve determined what opportunities to start with. Discover the right issues to solve and design the new experience. Put plans in place to fix the problem – and then, tell your story. Highlight the results that you received from that project (or several projects) to build momentum.
- Finally, use this pilot experience to design an ongoing program that introduces systematic changes to make your employee experience even better. Build the value case and demonstrate how the employee experience creates strong engagement for them, creating a cascade effect to improve the customer experience.
- Create Ways to Gather the ongoing voice of the employee – Build an ongoing voice of employee and create ways for them to participate in innovating on the experience and provide input into the solutions. Build an ongoing way to test and iterate on what’s working and what’s not.
Employee Experience in Practice
It’s important to point out that designing and improving employee experience is not just putting out an employee engagement report each year. Many companies survey employees annually on areas like morale, management, and leadership – and then they do little or nothing with these learnings. Alternatively, a company may fix a few things, but they don’t introduce systematic changes that can make a sustainable impact.
Instead, businesses must identify areas that need to be fixed, and introduce practical ways to solve for common barriers. For example, after talking to employees, mapping their employee journey, and analyzing that information, a call center for a consumer goods company found that many employees were complaining about neck and shoulder injuries, and were having a hard time hearing customers resulting in low morale and negative impacts to the customer experience. They conducted a pilot with a subset of employees. They brought in new headsets and fitted employee workstations with modular sound-proof barriers.
A few months after these changes were implemented in the pilot group, they saw reduced call times, improved customer experience scores for the calls, fewer employee complaints, reduced worker’s compensation claims since their employees no longer had to hunch over to hear customers.
Lasting, positive results require a commitment to identify and improve the employee experience with the same rigor you apply to customer experience.