What if we cared about our employees as much (or more) as we do about our customers? For inspiring employee experience ideas, a great place to look is what you’re probably already doing for the customer experience.
“Businesses often forget about the culture, and ultimately, they suffer for it because you can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees.” – Tony Hsieh
I read a lot of articles, books and blog posts about customer service experience and ways to attract, retain and reacquire customers to keep organizations happy and healthy. Much of that advice is a mix of score keeping; being more human and less of a dick; building relationships that matter; solving customer problems; leading with empathy; etc. All good and necessary. There are some great brains out there that break all this down into case studies and tactics that leaders can really use to better serve their customers. I try to do that myself in this blog from time to time too.
But what about serving employees?
The Substitution Game
There are some great resources on employee experience but certainly not nearly as much as around the customer experience. With a quick Amazon book search, customer service keyword results are north of 4,000. Employee engagement hovers around 3,000. That says a lot.
So recently I started a little game. When coming across social media posts from some of my favourite thought leaders in the customer experience space, I replaced the word “customer” with “employee” and tweaked it to be internally focused, rather than externally. It got a little magical. For example:
The customer has choices. They honor us with their business. Make the customer feel special and appreciated.
— Shep Hyken (@Hyken) May 16, 2021
Can also be:
The employee has choices. They honour us with their time. Make the employee feel special and appreciated.
Or how about:
You call it churn. The customer calls it “shopping elsewhere.”
You call it processing time. The customer sees it as wait time.
Sharing the same vocabulary with your #customer puts you on the path to a more customer-centric culture.
— Stephanie Thum, CCXP #CX (@stephaniethum) May 20, 2021
You call it churn. The employee calls it “getting a better job.”
You call it processing time. The employee sees it as too much bureaucracy to actually get things done.
Sharing the same vocabulary with your #employee puts you on the path to a more employee-centric culture. Try it and see. #EmployeeExperience #EX #EmployeeExperience
"Your feedback is more important than ever." Really? Why? These #CSAT survey requests are so stinkin' insincere. They've burned up my willingness to complete the survey. My experiences w both companies was GREAT, but I didn't complete the surveys because WORDS.#CX #plainlanguage pic.twitter.com/TZfP7goiIv
— LeslieO (@LeslieO) May 16, 2021
“Your feedback is more important than ever.” Really? Why? These #ESAT (employee satisfaction score) survey requests are so stinkin’ insincere. They’ve burned up my willingness to complete the survey. My experiences w both employers was great, but I didn’t complete the surveys because WORDS. #EX #plainlanguage
Everything still aligned perfectly. Whether it’s appreciation, common language or asking for feedback, these themes resonate with employees as much as customers.
CX to Employee Experience Ideas
So I thought I’d pull together some common customer service tools, tactics and focuses and give them an “EX” (employee experience) twist. Some of these do indeed exist already but as our culture continues to put customers ahead of employees, it might spark some ideas on how an organization can internally better engage their staff. Or at least measure how they are doing. We can’t forget that improving organizational health improves customer engagement.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS) – a single question used to measure customer satisfaction with a product or service. For example: “On a scale of zero to ten, how likely are you to recommend our business to a friend or colleague?”
FLIP IT to eNPS Employee Promotor Score – a question or two used to measure employee satisfaction with your organization. This is already used by companies such as Apple, and asks, “On a scale of zero to ten, how likely is it you would recommend this company as a place to work?” Other organizations such as Bain & Company have even added an additional question “How likely would you be to recommend this company’s products or services to a friend or colleague?”
- Voice of Customer (VoC) Programs – this is a focus on capturing, analyzing and reporting on all customer feedback—expectations, likes, and dislikes—associated with your company. Done through direct discussions or interviews, surveys, focus groups, observation, warranty data, field reports, complaint logs, etc. this exercise collects customer’s feedback about their experiences with and expectations for your products or services. It focuses on customer needs, expectations, understandings, and product improvement.
FLIP IT to Voice of Employee (VoE) Programs – your customers certainly have the ability to provide open and honest feedback if, taken seriously by the organization, can benefit the product or service. So do your employees. How do you value their voice and their ability to freely provide open and honest feedback? Capture, analyze, report and act on their candour and through all those communication streams mentioned under VoC. Give your employees a platform to be open and honest to make your organization a healthier and more productive place to work.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – a tool used for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with past or present customers and potential customers. As Salesforce puts it, “A CRM solution helps you focus on your organization’s relationships with individual people — including customers, service users, colleagues, or suppliers — throughout your lifecycle with them, including finding new customers, winning their business, and providing support and additional services throughout the relationship.”
FLIP IT to Employee Relationship Management (ERM) – a tool that manages your organization’s relationships and interactions with your present employees at all levels, on a personal level. Milestones, achievements, challenges, anniversaries… all in an effort to to better connect with them and help them. I’m sure many staff would love a solution that “provides support and additional services throughout the relationship” when they need them, just like a CRM does.
- Buyer Personas – are, as Hubspot defined them, “semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research. They help you focus your time on qualified prospects, guide product development to suit the needs of your target customers, and align all work across your organization (from marketing to sales to service).” They are a way to better personalize your products, marketing and services to the psychographics of your intended customer so it resonates and is more meaningful to them.
FLIP IT to Employee Personas – use research and data to better understand how to connect with your current and prospective employees. Denise Lee Yohn wrote a great article in Forbes, highlighting that “a company no longer has a single employee experience; it has thousands of them.” So why not treat them less like a homogenous group and more as various groups you need to understand how to communicate and connect with to provide the best workplace experience? We spend so much time and money on understanding our customers to better get money from them, it’s worth the effort to understand our employees to better provide value for them and the company.
- Customer Journey Mapping – as defined by Salesforce, “is the process of creating a visual story of your customers’ interactions with your brand. This exercise helps businesses step into their customer’s shoes and see their business from the customer’s perspective.” It allows you to better understand the many touchpoints, pain points and friction of your customers, including what they are intending to do and how your organization helps (or doesn’t) at each opportunity. Annette Franz has a great book on it called Customer Understanding: 3 Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of your Business).
FLIP IT to Employee Journey Mapping – on the other hand, this is a visual story of the life span of your employees within your organization, to help you step into the employee’s shows and see their career experience from the employee’s perspective. From recruitment and onboarding to promotions and exiting, it helps provide insight into how your company helps or hinders that process. You don’t know what you don’t know and this helps address that. There certainly aren’t nearly as many resources on employee journey mapping than on customer mapping but this breakdown from Qualtrics is pretty good.
Now think of all the many areas we make effort in to build customer relationships: active listening, consumer trust, consistency, retention, storytelling, responsiveness, feedback follow up, accommodating the customer, etc. … How is any of that not also obviously for the employee relationship?
Why You Should Treat Employees as Customers
Blake Morgan collected a list of stats for a Forbes article that really reinforce the importance of the employee experience and its influence on the customer one.
Only 31.5% of U.S. employees say they are engaged in their work.
Companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by 147%
Business units with engagement and connection scores in the top 25% had 10% stronger customer metrics.
So what can happen if an organization doesn’t take their employee experience ideas as seriously as their customer efforts?
- Employees can go to the competition, or anywhere else = higher churn.
- Employees feel less engaged and undervalued = less productive.
- Employees feel less connection and belief in the corporate vision/mission = diminished brand value.
You don’t have customers without employees. They are the the frontline for your customer relationships, for brand value representation, and for customer recruitment. They deserve as much of your effort and time.