A key to delivering clearly differentiated and effective customer experiences is the holistic and deliberate design of the employee experiences that “generate” those customer experiences.
My colleagues and I have spent the last 25 years helping leading organizations design and deliver more innovative and differentiated customer experiences. Over this time, we’ve developed a deep respect for how difficult it is to actually shift the behavior of the organization in a way that actually produces a different and noticeably better experience. In fact, our greatest learning over the past decade is probably that the key to getting the customer experience working is to make very deliberate and targeted improvements in the employee experience.
This has little or nothing to do with making employees more satisfied or “engaged.” We’ve seen many situations where more highly engaged employees just deliver a poor experience more enthusiastically. I’ve already had a lot to say about that in A Break in the Service Profit Chain: Why Increases in Employee Engagement Don’t Improve the Customer Experience.
If I were to summarize the key lessons we’ve learned about the integration of customer and employee experience it would include the following:
- The experience customers’ have with any organization is the product of behavior that emerges from a complex organizational system.
- Every organization is strongly predisposed to deliver the current customer experience based on deeply entrenched legacy effects, beliefs, values, and unwritten rules. These legacy effects are reinforced by employee experiences at every level of the organization.
- Most customer experience efforts significantly underestimate the difficulty of actually shifting these legacy effects. In some cases, organizations create a vision for the desired customer experience that is fundamentally at odds with the character and the culture of the organization. As a result, most initiatives fail to produce a noticeable shift in the customers’ actual experience. (See: Why Customer Experience Initiatives Fail?)
- Any effort to fundamentally improve the customer experience must first decode how and why the organizational system produces the current experience. This understanding allows executives to identify what changes are feasible and what specific interventions are necessary. Without this understanding, efforts to change the behavior of that system are likely to be naïve.
- Delivering a substantially different customer experience requires a holistic, end-to-end perspective on the employee experience. Within that holistic perspective, highly targeted employee experience interventions must be designed to address any “unwritten rules” that produce behavior inconsistent with the intended customer experience.
- By creating a strong linkage between the customer experience required to drive profitable growth and the employee experiences required to generate this customer experience, it becomes possible to create an economic model of the employee experience. This economic model can then be used to justify and prioritize investments in the employee experience.
BSG Concours is in the midst of a multi-client research project titled “Employee Expeiences and Business Results” that will extend our thinking about how leveraging the link between employee and customer experiences. I’ll have a chance to expand on this in future posts.