Want to truly affect Customer Experience? Start closer to home.

We all know that Customer Experience significantly impacts the bottom line. So why do so many companies get it wrong? There are a variety of CX strategies and programs out there that help businesses address the underlying customer experience issues. And let’s face it, it’s not a problem that you can solve overnight. Businesses are complex. Processes, people and technology need to be considered when defining a CX strategy. However, many downplay the most fundamental contributor to customer experience – employees.

Richard Branson has built a successful conglomerate and is well known and liked around the world. I recently saw a post where Richard offered some business advice. Number one on his list was ‘Employees come first’. This was followed by ‘then customers, then stakeholders’. Employees are at the heart of business success and they contribute significantly to the customer experience. Richard knows this and has built his business empire around this simple philosophy. Employees first.

Customer Experience begins with your employees. It’s quite simple actually. If your employees are not happy, your customers will not be happy. I’m not just talking about your customer service or sales employees. Each and every one of your employees has and will contribute to the perception of your brand.

Employees have the power to impact customer experience in a variety of situations. For example, you may think that your IT employees do not impact customer experience because they do not have any interaction with customers. Wrong!

Let’s consider a back office worker who is very unhappy with his employer. He’s not working the front lines but he connects with customers daily and has even become friends with several key customers. He’s working hard but getting zero recognition and his employer makes him feel as if he’s just another number. Replaceable. He often complains to his friends and family about his job and sometimes posts negative impressions of his company on Facebook.

With social media today, his unhappiness could be reaching customers. Most will likely empathize with him thinking “wow, I can’t believe they treat him that way”. Customers are going to think twice about continuing to do business with a company who doesn’t treat their employees well.

Some of you might be thinking ‘the guy should get a new job’ or ‘who would whine about that on Facebook?’. Actually, more than you might think. 53.2% of Americans are unhappy at work according to Forbes.  And can you really blame the poor guy? His company doesn’t really care about his work or if he’s satisfied in his job. They treat him as if he is replaceable.

Clearly no one wants to be treated that way. But you can see how this type of behavior could impact the brand and ultimately the customer experience.

Employee satisfaction for those in customer sales and service positions is even more critical. You can be doing everything right; you have the right C-level support, the right technology, the right processes and you’ve mapped every possible customer journey and touch point ensuring that the experience is optimal. But if your customer service reps are dissatisfied the customer experience will suffer.

With the digital and mobile world, Employees have reach and a voice, just as customers have reach and a voice.

Ask yourself this – Are your employees satisfied with…

  1.     Their job
  2.     Their salary
  3.     Their managers/leaders
  4.     The CEO
  5.     Your business strategy

But go beyond simple satisfaction to understand… Are they excited about your company? Do they believe in your business strategy? Do they feel valued in their job?

So many businesses are focused on costs and speed, and yes, it’s a balancing act. But to truly affect the customer experience you need to put your employees first. Companies with happy employees are proven to be more successful.

Wendy Mikkelsen

Wendy Mikkelsen

Wendy Mikkelsen is a senior manager, product marketing at Interactive Intelligence. She is responsible for the strategic positioning of cloud customer engagement solutions, driving product adoption and market awareness. Wendy has considerable professional expertise serving the contact center and communication industry for 20-plus years. Prior to Interactive, Wendy held various product and cloud marketing positions at both Nortel and Avaya. Wendy has broad knowledge of the contact center market and provides educational opportunities for businesses to learn about next generation customer experience management strategies and solutions.