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No matter what industry you operate in, customer experience is crucial if you want to grow your business. In fact, according to research conducted by customer experience company Zendesk, "76 per cent of consumers prefer a place that cares about their experience as opposed to places that simply sell them a product." Employee experience plays a critical role in delivering an excellent customer experience.
Before getting into the depth of how we can drive great employee experience that leads to excellent customer experience, let me start with a situation I have encountered once.
Does this sound familiar?
Anyway, the meeting started. I commenced it by summarizing the incident, and throughout, the employee’s body language reflected nervousness and agitation. I decided to approach this discussion with empathy and let him know what my intent was. I repeated that this meeting was to understand what led to the employee behaviour under discussion instead of judging or concluding on it.
The employee eventually opened up and confessed that there had been an unprofessional discussion between the employee and his manager immediately before the call. It was about the employee’s performance, who, while generally a good performer, had recently not been at his best.
The employee reported that the manager resorted to inconsiderate and poor choice of words. Which, in turn, made the employee feel belittled and unwanted. The manager reportedly even went on to say that there was no value that the employee was adding to the company, and it would not make any difference even if the employee quits.
What was the impact of this event?
A lost opportunity in all sense. A disappointed employee, an irate customer, a high-level executive escalation and a bad taste for all those who became part of this situation.
Internal happiness (intrinsic) leads to a peaceful mind and hence a productive day (extrinsic).
Similarly, an engaged workforce (intrinsic) makes employees happy which in turn leads to a great customer experience (extrinsic) and hence happy customers.
Let’s now look at what great employee experience mean and how to drive it effectively in order to deliver excellent customer experience.
What is a Great Employee Experience?
While embarking on their journey with an organization, every candidate does so with the aspiration of mutual growth. Alongside this, there are a lot of expectations that they would carry. For example, the way they will be treated, the friends they will make, or how they will contribute to the organization are essential. If met, this aspiration leads to a great employee experience.
A well-balanced experience is essential during every stage of an employee’s life cycle in an organization. From pre-joining to post-exit, each step leads to a fulfilling employee experience that also translates to a greater client experience. In short, having a robust employee-centric culture leads to client-focused delivery.
Over the past few years, good hiring, as well as good exit and post-exit experience, has been of a high priority. This is because the association doesn’t start with onboarding and ends with the last working day. Every organization is a milestone in an employee’s career. And it is their experience with each organization will decide if they continue to be your brand ambassadors throughout their career.
How to Drive a Great Employee Experience?
As we all agree on the fact that good employee experience leads to great customer experience, so here is how you can help to deliver a great employee experience in the workplace:
1. Make a good first impression
From how a new joiner is greeted to how they are handed over to the manager constitutes the first impression. Induction should be systematic and seamless. Finally, when the employee joins the team, ensure their colleagues aptly welcome them. Everything about creating that first impression, in some way or another, can make or mar the brand.
For example, a warm welcome with a goodie bag, a firm handshake and a big smile can make the new joiner feel welcomed. In addition, some organizations have managers and teams sing the welcome song every time a new joiner enters the team.
2. Help with baby steps
A lot of learning and unlearning happens in the first few months of joining. Be patient! Guide them and help them with this transition. Help them become acquainted with the company culture, narrate stories of organization history, display values in action, etc.
For example, having a 2-3 month extended onboarding program that focuses on basic on-the-job training would be a good start.
Facilitate team interaction, introduce them to the internal stakeholders, show them around the facility, and constantly keep in touch with their feelings. New joiners with a considerable tenure in their previous organization will tend to compare their new employer to their previous one. As for the freshers and the lateral hires, picking up new employment can be an emotional experience. Deal with it sensitively.
3. Provide support and feedback
Train them for the role, monitor their progress and provide timely and constructive feedback. Foster curiosity and encourage questions. Encourage creative, original ideas that lead to client-focused process improvements and innovative solutions.
For example, a detailed job training plan can be of help here. Gamify the entire experience. Make it enjoyable—the reward for completing within time.
Have a think tank concept in place. Capitalize on the newness of the new employee. Get fresh ideas, ask for feedback, promote healthy debate and give due credit in a team huddle on an excellent idea.
4. Communicate openly
Be honest in your dealing and be transparent in your communication. Maintain respect whether you opt for a professional or casual manner of communication. For example, set clear, crisp and documented expectations concerning the task allocation. Maintain the right communication channel with each employee as appropriate for the situation.
If you need to address a sensitive manner with an employee, do it yourself along with the HR or another stakeholder. Do not dilute the same by indulging in grapevine where the message gets distorted and reaches the employee ineffectively.
Use tools like Empuls to make sure your communication is consistent and well-documented. A communication platform like Empuls provides different modes to interact with your employees, be it one-to-one, group or channel.
5. Enable learning
Promote the culture of learning. Encourage the concept of self-growth. It is good to have managers who focus on the growth and achievements of their teams. For example, assign projects and encourage the employees to take periodic skill development programs. Relate these programs to their performance, and make them part of their KRA.
It is important to ensure that knowledge is absorbed correctly and transmitted back at work. One great way is to ask the employees to share their learnings with other team members via presentations, white papers or case studies. This will inculcate a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration. Additionally, it will enhance their verbal and written communication skills and teach them more about partnering, and teamwork.
A Gallup study found that teams that invested in employee development witnessed their sales double in comparison to teams that did not.
6. Hear them out
If you don’t, somebody else will. It could be your potential client, competitor, social media, or other avenues. Have ample channels to capture employee feedback, pulse, suggestion, concerns and appeals.
Empuls, for instance, offers a wide range of modes such as pulse, employee satisfaction, or employee feedback survey. Depending on the need, the survey can also be made anonymous.
Suggestion boxes are yet another way to capture employee thoughts instantly. For example, if you are moving around the campus and find something to share–a suggestion box would be handy. Writing to the Executives, Whistleblower, and Ombuds are some other channels allowing employees to report sensitive matters to the right person.
7. Reward and recognize
Celebrate wins–small and big. Share credit. It doesn't matter how small or big the reward denomination is, what matters is how neutrally, timely, and correctly it is done. A great manager becomes great because of a great team. They are successful if their teams are successful.
For example, reward vouchers are a great way to instantly recognize your employee's hard work. It also helps you keep in mind an employee's interest and pick a gift voucher accordingly. This personalization shows the care for the employee and the efforts you put in to pick the right voucher for your team.
Make them celebrities, bring them to the limelight, and announce their wins on the intranet wall. This boosts their confidence and makes them feel valued.
8. Foster an employee-centric culture
This point covers all the above and much more than that. It discusses the leadership team's involvement and employee centricity in the organization's core. Define the values around it and drive it from the top!
Having an employee-centric culture will ensure that the focus will always remain on employee satisfaction, their well-being, and hence, success in the team. It will balance what employees put in and what they get as output towards their personal growth. An employee-centric culture will ensure that aspects of their health, well-being, fun and logistic support are all focused on. It enables the employee to deliver with passion and perseverance.
"Companies with a highly engaged workforce report experiencing a 19.2 per cent growth in operating income over 12 months."
Proving that Good Employee Experience Leads to Great Customer Experience
Gartner's research states that "Customer Experience (CX) is the new marketing battlefront." As a result, 90 per cent of the companies compete on customer experience.
If it is hard to sell, sustaining the sale that results in a satisfied customer is ten times harder. With an enhanced focus on customer satisfaction, the need to make employees happy and have a wholesome work experience is extremely important.
A study by Dr Paul Warner shows that employee satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction by an R factor (correlation coefficient) of .431. To better understand this equation, the below graph shows how customer loyalty changes with improving employee engagement.
The same study qualitatively mapped the customer satisfaction responses against the satisfaction responses of the employees who served these customers. The results saw how both these values were reflective of each other.
Some examples of how a bad employee experience can impact customer experience:
- If not trained well, they can provide incorrect or misleading information to the customer, negatively impacting customer happiness.
- Without discipline and focus on customer happiness, issues raised by customers can be handled shabbily.
- Having a bad working atmosphere will lead to a high churn rate. Every time a customer finds a new support representative, it impacts the service provider's credibility as an employer.
- We have seen employees writing an escalation to the customer complaining about their employee.
- Client-sensitive information can be mishandled and more.
Companies investing in an employee experience platform are four times more profitable than those that don’t. An organization ideally is a group of satisfied employees that come together to work towards organizational development. It is the people who create the foundation of any organization.
Suppose an organization wants to sustain itself in a competitive world, thrive with success, make its mark, attract great talent, and enhance retention. In that case, it is necessary to invest in its brand ambassadors, i.e. their satisfied employees. So work on the Employee Experience, and THEY, your employees, will take care of Customer Experience.