Experience management will test your ability to adapt to a new AI reality. As you sit down, you become your own integrated leverage tool.
It’s impossible to deliver a consistent, differentiated CX without investing in the experience of the people designing and delivering that experience. In simple terms your EX needs to align with your CX. The design approach needs to be systematic and results based. Happier employees = happier customers is an empty phrase if you can’t quantify and qualify the impact of your EX investments on customer, and business outcomes. A stand out employee experience is a key trait in high performing businesses. Hewlett-Packard shifted its focus to employee experience in 2018 and it stock price grew from $16 to $26 within just two years.
Everybody in your organisation needs to have a clear line of sight from themselves, and the work they do, to your customer. In customer-centric companies everybody is guided by a single coherent CX vision that helps them achieve greatness. They can articulate the part they play and they know what’s expected of them. Employees working with leaders embody and reinforce the company’s purpose and values. They’re empowered with the right tools and technology to deliver what’s required of them. When these four elements are co-ordinated, the stage is set for a more a productive, motivated high performance team that stays loyal. Nobody needs a reminder of just how tough it is to attract and retain the best talent.
If you’re running your programmes in isolation, they’re partially connected, or poorly orchestrated, alignment will take work but it’s completely achievable. EX and CX are a constant work in progress. The disruption of the past few years has left most employees with an outdated view of customers. Some companies have already reset alignment. If you haven’t looked at this – now is a good time due to the duality and interdependence of both.
Start by creating a unifying CX vision
As discussed earlier, customer-centric companies create a simple unifying vision to rally the whole organisation. Clarity on the customer experience you plan to deliver, is critical. I know you already know it. But,employees who buy into the vision are more engaged and motivated to play their part in achieving what you set out to do. The challenge sometimes is how to create a vision that resonates and also is adoptable.
Ignite a shared sense of purpose
At the heart of every alignment strategy should be a commitment to giving people a shared sense of purpose and values. Does your purpose inspire and excite your people? Do your employees have the same sense of resolve and determination? Do they embody your values?
Alignment then requires a chain of orchestrated activities
Now we need to think about culture
Your purpose is where your journey is taking you. Your culture – core values and behaviour – is how you get there. Everything begins and ends with your culture – ‘the way you do things’. Your values guide how employees interact with each other, and your customers.
How to develop and embed a customer-first mindset
Cultural change requires leadership from the top to signal the change and role model new behaviours. If you haven’t appointed a Chief Experience Officer, or created a senior role with joint accountability for CX and EX, then bring existing accountabilities together. Let me give you an example of how Lumen Technologies orchestrates alignment. Ryan Willis, Director of Experience Management at Lumen Technologies, and his team partner with other leaders in the business to drive a culture of customer-first thinking. In 2020 / 2021 Willis and his team embarked on a programme to transform its journey management / mapping.
Cultural change requires empowering your employees to think and behave differently. Willis and his team rolled out a series of journey management training courses that created CX Journey Champions across the business. The Champions were tasked with identifying customer and employee experiences that could benefit from management / mapping. The programme helped to educate employees on how to drive improvements with a customer-first mindset. During the period, it created 80+ CX Champions who took what they have learned back into their areas of the organisation to driving customer-first change.
- How can you foster a culture of collaboration to break down silos and better align your CX and EX programmes?
- Think about how your leaders and teams need to think and behave differently?
Neobank Revolut is another good example of a business where employees radiate a customer-first mindset when serving customers. The bank’s agents are expected to “Deliver Wow” – to put the customer first and provide a memorable experience. Not sure if wows are crucial, but is a nice to have. So, agents are empowered to spend as much time as needed with customers to answer every single question, making sure the case is thoroughly and completely resolved.
Create a customer promise (and this is stating the obvious)
Create a clearly defined customer promise. Work out how to ensure your people – across the business – are able to use your customer promise as a guiding light for everything they do. The promise should guide your teams’ behaviour, decisions and actions.
Prioritise EX enhancements and align to positive customer impact
Leverage CX and EX insights to prioritise one or two alignment initiatives before you scale. Let me give you another example. Revolut has more than 20 million customers, across multiple products, in more than 200 countries and regions, using 17 languages. There is no one-size fits all approach to supporting these customers. Its agents were initially trained to support all customers. This wasn’t sustainable. The neobank knew it needed to rethink its approach to deliver a personal, responsive experience. In response, it created 12 specialised teams who are experts in their topic to support to customers with tailored information and advice.
Revolut was able to demonstrate a direct link between moving to specialised queues and improvements in customer satisfaction and the time it takes to resolve an issue.
Simplify and streamline the work environment
Complexity should not always be avoided at any cost. In certain cases, seemingly poorly designed processes or complexities can actually serve important purposes, such as safeguarding data, ensuring people’s safety, and providing clarity and security.. But, simplicity and simplification, wherever possible, delivers better outcomes – for employees and the customer. Some procedures and process make sense, and some do not. Overly complex processes, rigid hierarchies and time-zapping procedures can mean productivity falls, ideas and innovation dry up, churn increases. There are countless examples of redundant reporting, unnecessary authorisations, and tangled processes. As customers we’ve all been at the end of these. Complexities are also built into the culture and organisational structure. Micro-managing, for example, can significantly impact EX. Shifting accountability to employees, with support from leaders to help them perform their best, is key to empowerment. The coaching style of leadership is critical here.
When employees are provided with clear and straightforward processes, the right training and tools, information and insights, and freedom to delight, everybody wins, and your customers notice the difference. So …
Give employees the right tools and technology, analyse processes and workflows
Cloud, security and networking services provider Lumen Technologies had a well-crafted CX, but quickly recognised that it needed to factor in EX. In the words of Beth Ard, Lumen’s Vice President of Customer Experience: “The employee experience is critical to delivering a positive customer experience, and we have data that correlates to that … If an install wasn’t on time or there was some other problem, it was typically related to some obstacle in an employee’s workflow, in our processes or the technology keeping employees from delivering a good customer experience. It’s one big story.”
There’s an exciting wave of Generative AI-powered tools to assist your agents and improve their experience: automated case summaries, automated knowledge articles and customer responses and ‘experience orchestration’ – automated tasks and post-interaction follow ups. These are just some of the innovations being deployed to improve EX. I wrote about this recently. Learn more here.
- Do your employees need additional training to refresh, upskill and reskill?
- What are your feedback mechanisms? Do you have real-time insights on what employees are experiencing?
Drill down into what’s working and what’s not. Be proactive – unearth employee, and customer, issues in the moment and identify trends. Share CX and EX insights across the organisation. An AI-powered Voice of the Customer platform, which collects and analyses employee feedback (in real time) will be a major help here.
Operationally, the annual employee survey has some value. EX (read CX too) leaders use daily barometers. Since 2022, Samsung has conducted a daily Pulse Survey to gather feedback on experiences and pain points to improve employees’ pride / work satisfaction and productivity.
As part of a larger, company-wide culture shift to encourage employees to build on each other’s work, Microsoft looked again at how it encouraged peer feedback. It understood that feedback usually triggers negative defence mechanisms in our minds. Brain science told the company that people were receptive to feedback when they asked for it.
Microsoft wanted to an approach that encourage brain-friendly behaviours and made people more receptive to giving, and receiving feedback. The result was its new Perspectives tool whereby employees suggest things where peers should “keep going” or “rethink”. Find out more here.
Anonymous surveys can mean employees are more willing to share their honest opinions. However, make sure to do so before the end of surveys as we know them today… Coming soon!
Create a focus group of CX Champions – see below for more
Encourage innovation and creativity
As discussed earlier, innovation and creativity are crucial. Your employees need to be empowered to innovate and create new value for customers to stay ahead in your market. Engaged employees who are passionate about their work will be more committed to delivering an exceptional experience. Field service management software company Zuper made continuous learning and upskilling part of its core values. Periodically, the company brings its teams together to share ideas, what they’ve been working on, and share feedback from another. Technology is being develop at lightening pace. Zuper finds its best to share how to best leverage AI developments in group settings.
Recognise and reward CX Champions
You might appoint employees “who get it” as CX Champions, or a group of individuals might become self-appointed because they care passionately about your customers. Whatever the route, think about how you can recognise and reward those team mates that go the extra mile for customers, and collaborate with colleagues across the business to drive CX improvements.
A final thought …
There is an inherent connectivity between EX and CX. Great experiences happen by design. It’s impossible to deliver a stand out customer experience without recruiting and retaining stand out employees.
You know how fierce the competition for talent is. You’ll also know that some markets are more difficult to attract talent than others. Samsung found itself in this situation. It’s high-performing, fast-paced culture needed no introduction to candidates in South Korea. But, in the US, the brand was swimming in the same talent pool as all the other tech giants. Samsung wanted a way to cut through, share what Samsung life was like, and attract the right talent from a diverse, inclusive viewpoint. In partnership with Muse, Samsung let its employees do the talking for it. One initiative included making seven employee testimonial videos from featuring a diverse group of employees from different teams.