Be serious about employee experience, or don’t bother

Be serious about employee experience, or don’t bother

Adopt the customer’s point of view of who your employees are

Customers won’t recognise the difference between permanent employees, part-time employees and contract employees, and company leaders shouldn’t either.

Tom Champion, Forrester

Employee Experience (EX) was one of the top 10 trends Forrester identified recently that will have a huge impact on businesses in the next few years. It's for good reason - firms that focus on improving EX yield better customer experience (CX) outcomes and outperform their competition over time.

EX is not a new concept, and more and more CX professionals are dedicating their careers to it. We spoke to CX professionals who either report to HR leaders or who have a joint Customer-HR remit as part of new research to gauge EX maturity and leading practices.

As CX professionals get a better handle on the basics – customer journey mapping, design thinking, CX measurement – they look for other areas to make a deeper impact to keep competitive. One latent goldmine is their employees – turning their attention to improving the working lives of their colleagues and stakeholders as a means to delivering superior CX.

Forrester analyst Tom Champion
Forrester analyst Tom Champion

Use people analytics to change stakeholders’ minds

As with CX, the best employee experiences involve orchestrating the broader organisation. Here are some ways CX professionals are extending into EX to develop effective programs:

  • Make the link between employee experience and revenue. One framework making a comeback is the service-profit chain, which spells out a link between employee experience to customer experience and business outcomes. While the model is decades-old, it helps to apply layers of analysis to better understand weak links in the chain and to know where to focus efforts. It’s about formalising and quantifying the conventional wisdom that happy workers make for holistic and long-lasting CX.

  • Adopt the customer’s point of view of who your employees are. Customers won’t recognise the difference between permanent employees, part-time employees and contract employees, and company leaders shouldn’t either. A multinational automaker takes an outside-in approach to defining who an employee is, including independent dealership operators along with full-time staff. This inclusive mentality gives it a more realistic grasp of its CX ecosystem and prompts this organisation to forge greater working relationships with its diverse partners, instead of dismissing them as 'out of our control'.

  • Use people analytics to change stakeholders’ minds. A restaurant chain in the US hired McKinsey to run advanced people analytics on their staff. They wanted to find out what factors would statistically result in superior customer outcomes. Using in-depth techniques, they busted myths. For example, it wasn’t factors like compensation structure or previous retail experience that reached desired outcomes, rather it was elements like commute distance and management behaviours. This deep insight shifts mindsets away from stereotypes so real impact can be made.

  • Change the role of the CX team from operational to enabling. One Asia Pacific hospitality firm restructured by moving the CX team under the HR function. For them, it was a logical move, as this team had taken on a strong training function – upskilling the rest of the organisation in journey mapping as a means to achieve firm-wide capability uplift. For many organisations at a certain stage of maturity, they must abandon a centralised model for CX and consider the role they play in empowering their stakeholders with CX self-efficacy. This means letting go of one skill set, and picking up new ones around change management, relationship development and training.

The drivers of employee experiences are as dynamic as those of customer experiences. In essence, the steps are about making systemic and data-backed decisions to enhance EX with a specific goal of improved CX. If you hope to unlock the benefits of EX, only do so if you intend to truly commit to it as a way to execute your differentiated CX strategy. Otherwise, spend your energy on other things.

Tom Champion is a senior analyst at Forrester

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Tags forrestercustomer focusUXcxemployee experienceTom Champion

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