Why does delivering an exponential customer experience start with listening to your employees?

“An experience occurs when a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event.”

In 1998, Joseph Pine II and James Gilmore published an article of the “Experience Economy” in the Harvard Business Review, which demonstrated that soon companies would begin to compete in the realm of experiences. According to the authors, to achieve competitive advantage and make a difference, organizations should start offering memorable moments and providing personalized experiences.

The concept of “Experience Economy” is the prelude to what we know today as Customer Experience or the set of interactions a person has with a company. Today, many organizations understand the relevance of uncovering customer needs at every touch point to achieve greater brand loyalty. However, it is very frequent that these customer-facing efforts are made without considering a critical part of the equation: the person offering the experience.

Customer Experience & Employee Experience: Two sides, one challenge

A study conducted by Temkin Group shows a direct correlation between having a strong financial performance, offering a good customer experience and acquiring a high level of engaged employees. Thus, an organization that seeks to be people-centric must be able to align three fundamental pillars: Business Objectives, Customer Experience and Employee Experience. In order to deliver a great customer experience it is necessary not only to focus on people’s expectations but also on employees’ needs.

The Employee Experience goes beyond short-term retention tactics such as a once-a-week home office or childcare for moms. While these benefits may be highly valued by the internal customer, it is key to understand each interaction that employees have with the organization,from the onboarding to the afterlife when leaving a company. Thus, the Employee Experience is the set of strategic initiatives that a company develops with the purpose of creating meaningful experiences that empower each employee, improving their performance and consequently the profitability of the organization. In order to design an Employee Experience, companies need different employee segments behavioral data. Therefore, like Customer Experience, Employee Experience can use tools such as Customer Journey Maps, Stakeholder Maps, Value Proposition Canvas or Personas to understand the employee lifecycle and create solutions that respond to the most significant moments of it.

The Employee Experience as a Competitive Advantage

Jacob Morgan in his book “The Employee Experience Advantage” explains that the three axes to consider when designing the Employee Experience are: organizational culture, available technology and physical space. Some companies have already invested heavily in one of these three pillars, increasing consequently their employee loyalty.

Google was the first to break with the traditional view of the HR department, designing playful workspaces and out-of-the-ordinary rules. Some cultural rules, such as getting permanent feedback from its employees, helped them identify maternity leave as one of the main causes of employee turnover which allowed the staff to improve retention rates.
On the other hand, Airbnb integrates the experience of its employees into its mission to create a world “where everyone feels a level of belonging”. In this way, each employee can propose and design their own workplaces inspired by different cities around the world. It is worth noting that in 2015 Airbnb made a radical change in its internal culture, replacing the role of “Chief Human Resources Officer” with that of “Chief Employee Experience Officer”.
At Adobe, “Creativity” is a cornerstone of their organizational culture. This way, employees are encouraged to be creative in their daily work with the help of mentors who guide instead of bosses who control. Companies such as Netflix and The Ritz-Carlton trust their employees in any situation, empowering them to use their best judgment when resolving conflicts with customers. If needed, The Ritz-Carlton encourages its employees to improve a guest’s experience, entrusting them with USD 2,000/day per customer.
Apple, for its part, designs specifically how it wants its workforce to perform, achieving high levels of productivity as per its competitors: eliminates organizational control, invests in
leaders who inspire employees, and rewards teams rather than employees.

The ROI of the Employee Experience

“An engaged employee is 44% more productive than a satisfied worker, but an employee who is inspired at work is nearly 125% more productive than a satisfied one. Companies that
inspire more employees perform better than the rest.”

Employee engagement and employee productivity continue to be growing issues, and HR departments are focused on finding new ways to recruit, learn and retain employees. To achieve this, leaders are increasingly adopting an experience-driven approach and are truly thinking about how the work of these areas needs to evolve.

Key Performance Indicators of Human Resources departments are related to retention, leadership, camaraderie and productivity. Nowadays it is necessary to focus on meeting these in an integrated manner, and it is the Employee Experience that in a unified way makes employees identify with the organization and follow their vision in every task they perform. Delivering an experience that meets the expectations of employees will make them inspired by the company’s vision, committed to meeting the needs of its customers and motivated to do their best at work. Rather than just improving engagement or retention levels, Employee Experience merges Human Resources with Business Objectives to deliver a memorable experience.

According to a report by the American management consulting firm Gallup, companies with highly engaged employees generate 147% more earnings per share (EPS) than their competitors. Companies that forge good relationships with their employees are able to attract, engage and retain the talent they need, directly impacting the customer experience and consequently business development.

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