Delivering the stellar service that protects a brand, increases customer lifetime value, and supports new business models requires a new approach.
It can be painfully obvious when CX and EX are disconnected. Here’s a real-world example: At an outlet of a national craft brand, a sales associate with 10-plus years experience working in the framing department was utterly flustered by the retailer’s new system for custom frames. She couldn’t find the options she needed, and it clearly unnerved and embarrassed her.
It was clear what happened: A technology decision was made without understanding the impact on employees who use it, and without a plan to support + train them.
Instead, those who are closest to the customer were left to figure it out on their own – in front of customers.
A poor customer experience (CX) was inevitable. Worse, it made a capable and seasoned employee feel incompetent and inexperienced; the very definition of poor employee experience (EX). It also illustrates the degree to which the employee and customer experience are intertwined.
Sadly, this is a common issue for brands that set a goal to become customer centric.
CX and EX: The problem with silos
Creating a culture of customer centricity is truly challenging. Most companies are organized in silos, with each department focusing on a specific area of the business – sales, customer experience, service, and so on. Becoming customer-focused requires executive buy-in to empower leaders and employees to change the way they work, to reimagine the incentives and metrics that have driven siloed behaviors.
The first step is to define the end-to-end journey, from a product’s inception to getting it in the hands of the customer. Companies need to identify the moments that matter between employees and customers, as these represent true opportunities for driving customer centricity.
This brings us to a central crux of customer centricity: What’s the broader purpose of an organization – and how do employees successfully contribute to it?
In order to truly put customers first, employees need a deep understanding of how their roles ladder up to the broader purpose. Without this understanding, employees may miss opportunities to improve the customer experience.
A disconnected organization – one in which every department works towards its own goals and incentives – will inevitably lead to less-than-ideal customer experiences.
Invest in the employee experience for better CX
To date, EX investments have been uneven, with knowledge workers benefiting from new tools and training, while frontline workers are left to make do as best they can.
To improve customer experience, companies need a mature EX, which we define as an organization that’s aligned and measured, with tools that work hard for employees, not the other way around.
When the digital employee experience reflects a siloed organizational structure, it forces employees to navigate multiple portals for various CRM, customer service and productivity systems to find the information they need. Knowing where to look for data is difficult, and if the employee is in front of a customer, neither the CX nor the EX will be ideal.
Frontline workers have not been the beneficiaries of technology investments the way knowledge workers have, but that’s starting to change. Modern devices are small enough to easily carry around, and powerful enough to be personalized to job, task, day and time.
For those investments to pay off, however, all technology must build into and reinforce a broader vision of customer centricity.
A positive employee experience helps drive the success of a company, from both a financial and social point of view.
Gauging total experience success
In the example of the craft store, had success been measured in “impact to experience” the rollout would certainly have performed poorly. Unfortunately, many new technology investments are evaluated based on budget, cost savings, and adoption. The true impact and time it takes to learn and adapt to the change aren’t taken into consideration.
Using employee efficiency and customer satisfaction as the key measures for success creates a better total experience.
Too often, organizations solve a single challenge without the broader view in mind, which results in a worse overall CX or EX or both. The truth is, any weak point in the employee or customer experience can lead to poor CX, hobbling efforts towards achieving a culture of customer centricity.
Learn how total experience (TX) combines customer experience, employee experience, user experience, and multiexperience to transform business.
CX + EX: Creating customers for life
When CX and EX are fully aligned, it’s magic. My recent experience with audio brand Sonos illustrates this.
I wanted to add a record player to the set, but couldn’t find anything I was comfortable buying. I opened a ticket and received a one-way video link to chat with a sound expert at Sonos who, while on video, quickly talked through my needs, had access to my customer records and was able to make a proper recommendation. The rep also walked me through the setup process quickly and easily.
That interaction cemented my brand loyalty and raised the brand’s net promoter score – proof that when CX and EX are viewed together as a single journey, the result is true customer centricity.
This article was co-authored by Jesse Murray, SVP of Employee Experience at Rightpoint.