Take care of associates and they'll take care of your customers.
—J. W. Marriott, Co-founder of Marriott Corporation
Employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX) have a symbiotic relationship.
According to a survey of Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) members (reader data required to access), having a motivated and equipped workforce is the key to achieving an improved CX, business agility, and digital transformation.
CX leaders are beginning to recognize the interconnectedness of CX and EX. They are now looking inwards to improve EX as a means to boost CX for overall business growth and revenue. For small businesses, creating a positive EX may not be that easy due to their limited resources and lack of related processes.
Regardless of how difficult it is for small businesses to focus on positive EX, they can't ignore it if they want to gain a competitive edge and boost their overall business revenue.
We have two tips that won't cost them a fortune and will still help them achieve their CX objectives:
1. Eliminate unnecessary employee effort
2. Promote customer-centric employee empowerment
Let's discuss each of these tips one by one:
Employee challenge and its impact on CX: Employees spend a lot of time performing tasks that they feel are unnecessary, repetitive, and redundant. These may include attending frequent meetings, replying to unimportant emails, preparing documentation, filling time and expense reports, and commuting long hours for jobs that can be handled remotely.
In fact, a 2018 Gartner study of 1,012 employees found that 64% believe that unnecessary efforts prevent their company from delivering a higher quality CX (full content available to clients).
Small business leaders need to break free from a top-down approach and focus more on face-to-face feedback discussions with employees to understand the reasons behind their dissatisfaction.
Our survey shows that only 35.8% of associates strongly believe that their organization offers a positive EX.*
Here is a list of Dos and Don'ts that can act as a reference point for leaders to help them improve employee experience:
Evaluate the daily activities of your employees. Stay agile and eliminate activities that are time-consuming and redundant.
Document essential processes and ensure that your employees know why these processes are important and can't be replaced altogether.
Provide more flexibility to employees in getting their work done. Let them plan their week and schedule their daily and weekly repetitive activities.
Miss out on reviewing and evaluating processes from time to time to keep the ones that enhance employee productivity.
Forget to keep open channels for discussion and feedback about the processes. Avoid giving your employees tough mandates without having a proper discussion about them.
Over-plan daily and weekly schedule for your employees to the last minute in the name of optimizing employee time.
Additional tip: Garner customer feedback through website surveys or cold calling to understand what is hindering your customers from helping themselves. Simplify self-service resources to make them more useful for customers. This will increase the web usage for your brand and reduce customer calls.
Employee challenge and its impact on CX: Teams interacting with customers face challenging situations directly on a regular basis. Be it dealing with an angry customer or rectifying a CX gone wrong, it's exhaustive to cater to customers.
The inability to resolve customer issues due to lack of resources and having to rectify a CX gone wrong due to situational complexity, lack of training, or challenging business processes can lead to severe employee dissatisfaction. This, in turn, impacts employees' effort and will to serve customers with a positive mindset.
As a small business leader, it's incumbent that you take the necessary steps to promote a culture of employee empowerment keeping the customer in focus. Here are a few tips to help you do that:
Boost cross-functional collaboration and information sharing for mutual learning
Our survey shows that only 35.8% of associates feel that the product or service offered by their organization is well aligned with the needs of their customers as opposed to 46.8% of leaders who believe that the product and customer needs are aligned.*
Bridge this gap in your employees' understanding and open channels of communication within and across departments and teams. You can employ collaboration software or hold offline inter-departmental discussion forums about customer challenges and subsequent product functionalities. Such measures will empower your employees with relevant knowledge to cater to customers better, foster a culture of customer-centricity in your company, and keep your employees engaged.
Train employees to empower them to take better care of customers
Our survey shows that only 35.3% of associates feel that their organization acts with its employees' best interests in mind.*
Small business leaders need to address this by investing in empowering employees. They can organize employee training on topics such as problem-solving to enable them to resolve customer issues more efficiently. Create a repository of difficult customer interactions and scenarios; conduct training sessions to discuss these scenarios and possible solutions with your team.
Additional tip: Along with employee training, focus on customer training as well. Invite your repeat customers or most frequent callers to train them on your products and address frequently asked queries in online webinars and offline support drives. Incentivize their participation to ensure attendance.
It's important that you keep two things in mind when shifting your organizational focus towards EX to drive positive CX:
Know what your employees think about customer-centricity. Help them understand how their contribution impacts CX overall. This would help them develop customer empathy and keep them motivated to fulfill their contributions. Without having your team onboard, you won't be able to bring the organizational shift in terms of customer-focused attitude and culture.
Measure the impact of improved EX on CX to foster confidence and gather support for the new strategy and organizational shift. This would sustain employee engagement and motivation in the longer run.
You can also read explore the following sources to understand customer experience better:
In May 2019, GetApp used Amazon Mechanical Turk to survey 346 business leaders and associates. All were required to be employed full-time and reside in the U.S. Respondents also had to work in a business with 500 or fewer employees. Over 90% of leaders and associates reported working for businesses earning $250 million or less in total annual revenue.