Customers have always come first, but what about your employees?

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It is essential for each and every company to create value for its customers

Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, once said: “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” This quote reflects the relentless focus of most companies on the customer experience. “Customer success management”, “customer journey mapping” and “customer lifecycle” are just a few of the concepts that are being used extensively by many organizations today. The very essence of every business is indeed to create value for its customers.

Customer value is partly driven by the engagement of the company’s employees

Let’s think about by whom this value is created. Who develops and manufactures the company’s products, brings them on the market, interacts with its customers, …? It is clear that the value for the customer is created by the ensemble of the company workforce.
Martin Oliver, managing director of a large financial services company, once said: “Whether you are big or small, you cannot provide a good customer service if your employees don’t feel good about coming to work”. Multiple studies have indeed shown that customer satisfaction rate is strongly correlated with the level of employee engagement. Moreover, more engaged employees typically lead to higher levels of productivity, increased innovation, lower absenteeism and higher retention. These are many reasons for every business to strive for a highly engaged workforce.

What employees experience determines their engagement

Employee engagement is largely driven by what happens at work. All these individual events sum up to what we commonly call the employee experience. It is similar to the customer experience in the sense that it takes into account a long period of interaction (2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, one of the largest HR surveys in the world): “Starting as potential hires and recruits, employees look at everything that happens at work as an integrated experience that impacts daily life in and outside the workplace, including overall physical, emotional, professional and financial well-being.”

Enhancing employee experience is a top priority for companies, yet they are not ready

Various studies show that the majority of the global workforce is either not engaged or even actively disengaged today. The previously mentioned Deloitte report highlights that while it remains a top priority for companies all over the world, almost two-thirds of all respondents indicate that they are not or only somewhat ready to enhance employee experience.
Employee experience will only become more important. A growing part of the workforce values the emotional and mental aspects of work more. They typically prefer a pleasant, yet challenging work environment above a higher remuneration, when making job decisions. Moreover, people are no longer afraid to change jobs more frequently.

To enhance employee experience, it is crucial for companies to measure, understand and act

A first step towards improving employee experience and thus higher levels of engagement is to measure its evolution correctly and frequently. Once again the statistics are remarkable: 82% of companies measure engagement only once a year or less, according to a report from Bersin, a leading HR consulting firm.
As a second step, companies need to understand which events in the overall employee experience mostly drive this evolution in the engagement of their employees. That is an important thing to get right: it’s not about the moments you think matter, it’s about every experience the employee believes matters.
Hence, tools and processes are required to capture both the evolution and the work events driving your employees’ engagement.

Conclusion

When these tools and processes are in place, managers and teams can use the collected data to start thinking about how to put in place a set of practices that truly improve the employee experience and ultimately make your company a better place to work.
In turn, succeeding in truly engaging your employees will definitely help you to deliver on your promise to offer an outstanding customer experience.

“If you do not put the employee first – if the business of management and managers is not to put the employee first – there is no way you can get the customer first.” (Vineet Nayar)

Sparble – your virtual engagement coach

(This article is the first in a series. Definitely keep an eye out for future posts!)