Michael Lowenstein, Ph.D., CMC Thought Leadership Principal, Beyond Philosophy
Most organizations do not fully understand, or leverage, the key linkages and relationships between customer experience and employee experience/behavior. Enterprises typically focus on employee satisfaction or engagement, in the belief that high levels in either area will directly drive customer loyalty. As a result, much of the surveying is about employee happiness, fit, alignment, meaningful work, commitment to company goals, and productivity.
Our research and consulting experience has shown that employee satisfaction and engagement have rather incidental connection to customer behavior. Employees, though, are critical stakeholders in the delivery of experience value. So, it is vital for companies to learn where they are in creating enterprise-wide employee ambassadorship (commitment to the organization, the product/service value proposition, and the CUSTOMERS) and stakeholder-centricity
We have found that employee surveys are not, but should be, designed to help identify how, and how effectively, the enterprise culture is helping shape employee behavior and the delivery of customer value, with employee ambassadorship as an optimal state. The questions in these ‘new age’ employee surveys address such key areas as::
– Organizational stakeholder-centric leadership.
– Cultural readiness for stakeholder-centricity
– Cultural readiness for employee ambassadorship
– Staffing decisions (hiring, training, reward/recognition, advancement,etc.) embedded in the employee experience
– Employee life cycle
– Emotional drivers of employee behavior
– Linkages between employee behavior and customer behavior
In a recent Forbes article by Christine Comaford, she reported on the results of a 2017 Temkin Group CX Management Survey of 180 organizations with $500 million in annual revenues. Though only 8% of respondents felt their employer delivered the best CX in their business sector, 55% set this as a goal within the next three years. How are they going to reach that objective? One of the most essential ways is by emphasizing the employee experience and how it directly and indirectly links to the customer experience. Among other challenges, this will require different approaches to employee surveys.
Employee research into commitment to the customer experience brings in several components which build on, but differ markedly, from traditional, or standard, employee satisfaction and engagement techniques. Here is some of our thinking on how to do this:
• For one difference, the attributes studies should actively include a significant proportion that are customer focus-related (perhaps 40% to 50% of them)
• Next, incorporate multiple overall ‘value indicators’, which examine personal commitment to the organization, degree of positive and negative word of mouth on behalf of the company’s products and services, and strength of belief in the value of these products and services to customers.
• Develop an emotional profile, i.e. how employees feel about the work they do for the company, and identify what employees desire most in their jobs
• Evaluate each of the attributes based on
a) how employees rate them, i.e. agree/disagree,
b) how much the employees want them, and c) their prioritized value to the organization.
Here are some highlights, from a recent employee ambassadorship study conducted on behalf of the customer service operation of a major insurer:
• In prior engagement studies, our client had identified poorly performed employee attributes. They put some initiatives in place based on this research, with little real result. Our research, however, uncovered previously unidentified subconscious employee priorities: Customer focus and ‘bonding’ elements had particular promise for the organization. Dedication to provide value to customers, using employee feedback for improvement within the department, leveraging teamwork, recognizing that employees have an effect on customer behavior, and enabling employees with more personal decision-making in their jobs. These, we determined, would provide the most enterprise value.
• Conversely, lack of freedom to express ideas, poor implementation of ideas, insufficient cross-training, feeling little value as a team member, lack of feedback, feeling that leadership has less commitment to service value than the rank-and-file, and low belief that other groups within the company have equal customer focus were undermining, even destroying, employee value to the enterprise.
• Our client had the belief that very few of the over 500 customer service operation employees included in the study had tenure of more than ten years; however, employees with this length of service represented close to one-quarter of all who participated. More important, tenure had a significant impact on degree of employee commitment. Commitment to the organization and customers declined after one year of service, went further downhill at five years, was even lower at ten years, and remained low among those with over ten years of service.
These are profound insights, representing level of commitment to customer value delivery. So, how committed are your company’s employees to optimizing CX? This can begin to be revealed through a self-assessment survey questionnaire, an examination of what the enterprise is doing for stakeholder-centricity, and how well employee experience is connected to the customer experience.