3 Employee Experience Touchpoints That Impact Customer Experience

by Jeannie Walters

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Employee Experience is Critical, and Smart Organizations are Taking Notice

Employee experience has been called “the new customer experience” and “the answer to customer experience” in more than one article. There is no doubt the experience employees have, how engaged they are, and how well prepared they are has a direct impact on customer experience.

According to the latest LinkedIn Global Talent Trends Report, a whopping 96% of talent professionals say employee experience is becoming more important.

Employees create your products, sell to prospects, fix broken code, and answer service calls. They do all these things, along with a million other jobs, to deliver on the promises made to your customers. Yet some organizations still act like only customer-facing employees need to be connected to the customer experience.

Why don’t more leaders connect the employee experience to the customer experience on a more regular basis? And what happens when leaders get this right?

Your employee’s journey with your brand happens in similar ways as your customer’s journey. The journey begins way before they become an employee and continues through the point when they leave, for whatever reason. Using best practices from customer experience, leaders can build an employee experience that is meaningful for workers and provides better experiences for customers.

There is a lot to unpack within the customer and employee experience connection. Some of the ways they’re connected are more obvious than others. Your customer-facing frontline workers and service reps must understand the customer experience to do their jobs well.

But what about the interactions your employees have on their own journey with your organization?

Here are three places where the employee experience intersects with the customer experience, in sometimes surprising ways.

3 Key Touchpoints where Employee Experience and Customer Experience Meet:

1. First Impressions: The Candidate Experience

Job searchers know how grueling the candidate experience can be. They have to run the gauntlet of…

  • The research to find the available positions.
  • The maze to submit an application.
  • And then endless follow-up to get to an interview.

It can be exhausting and frustrating. It’s up to the candidate to make their way through these confusing processes and then wait for some sort of acknowledgment.

Some brands pride themselves on these obstacles, thinking that by making the candidate experience difficult, only the best candidates will filter through. This is misguided. While there’s certainly a benefit to asking candidates to demonstrate their qualifications throughout the hiring process, asking them to do so by handling your poor communication or outdated systems is definitely not the way to do it.

Consider the first part of the employee experience in a similar way to the first stages in a customer journey.

  • What first impression is your brand making?
  • How is the candidate experience communicating what you stand for?
  • What promises are you demonstrating you make to customers and employees?

To attract the best people to the organization, you must make the best first impression. Consider what this part of the journey indicates to potential employees. As the candidate moves through the hiring process, they are making judgments on what it’s like to work there. If communication is messy, disorganized, or lacks empathy, that implies that is acceptable behavior at the organization.

The perceived customer brand should not be different from the candidate brand. A brand that claims high-end, personalized experiences for customers shouldn’t send a candidate a generic application to complete. And if the application process itself is cumbersome and complicated, that is sending a message about what experiences are like for customers.

At each step in the candidate journey, the customer experience mission should be represented and communicated. And candidates who don’t make it to the next step still want to hear from the brand in a personal, direct way.

To create a better first impression:

  • Work with the recruiters and hiring managers.
  • Review the communication process for candidates at each stage of the journey.
  • Focus on tone and standards. Include your Customer Experience Mission wherever you can.

Improving the candidate experience can lead to better hires, which can have a significant impact on the larger employee experience, customer experience, and bottom line.

2. Listening: Employee Feedback

Employee surveys are great. Many organizations run these annually to gauge things like employee engagement and empowerment.

Employees have a lot to tell you about the customer experience, too. They see things in different ways and understand the processes behind the scenes that can lead to either improved or deficient customer experiences.

But they are not asked about this often enough.

In addition to your usual employee surveys, try creating touchpoints along the employee journey to collect feedback on the customer experience. Employees should understand how their role and day-to-day work impacts the customer, even if they don’t think of themselves as customer-facing.

  • Ask for specific feedback on ways they believe their work helps your Customer Experience Mission.
  • Ask for what they believe could make the customer experience better for the customer with specific outcomes, like “How can we reduce the effort our customers have when they order from us?”
  • Also ask for broad, big ideas, like “If you had a magic wand, how would you improve the experience for our customers?”

Engaging your employees on a regular basis with questions like these helps them see the way they matter to customers and empowers them to aim for continuous improvement for customers.

And remember: Communication is a two-way street. We talk often about “closing the loop” to strengthen our Voice of the Customer programs , and the same goes for gathering and using employee feedback. Closing the loop simply means communicating back to those employees who’ve provided feedback to let them know how their feedback has been acted upon.

Close the loop with employees and let them know they’ve been heard. Report what actions are taken based on their feedback.

3. Working Through Change

The world today is changing rapidly, and that means companies have to adapt. An adaptable workforce responds to customer problems and outcomes and isn’t focused on just short-term goals like a product release.

Flexible organizations understand the entire employee and customer ecosystems help them:

  • Stay ahead of trends
  • Challenge the status quo
  • Respond to customer needs through a continuous cycle of listening, planning, and acting.

High-performing organizations “collect employee and customer feedback through multiple channels and monitor competitors,”  according to Bersin, Deloitte Human Capital Research.

A focus on customers and their challenges helps your employees do more than just fulfill a role; it helps them create meaningful customer experiences.

Your Customer Experience Will Be Strengthened (or Limited) by your Employee Experience.

Your Employees Want to Do a Great Job! Help them deliver for customers by shining a spotlight on the ongoing customer experience.

  1. Communicate the customer experience mission consistently – starting with before they apply for a role!
  2. Listen to employees to understand their engagement AND for their ideas for customers.
  3. Focus on understanding the customer’s ecosystem and how to solve their problems – not just on deadlines or internal goals.

Your employees are at your organization because they believe they can make a difference. Help them live up to that everyday.

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, a Forbes Coaches Council Member, a C-Suite Network Advisor, a LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com instructor, and a TEDx speaker. Learn more here.

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