Empowering employees; the critical link between EX and CX

Maggie Schroeder, principal product marketing manager at Acquia, explores how a successful employee experience can ultimately result in a positive customer experience.

Improving and optimising customer experience (CX) has long been a key focus for consumer-facing brands. Accelerated by the rapidly-changing demands of the market during the pandemic, and led by the gold standard of organisations such as Amazon and Netflix, companies are striving to set new benchmarks for seamless and satisfying customer journeys from browsing to purchase and beyond into aftersales service.

While most organisations have invested heavily in redesigning their CX to meet these new challenges, many have been slower to address some of the more fundamental building-blocks.

Employee experience (EX) is a critical factor in building a healthy and successful business, yet in the scrabble to update customer-facing systems and processes as top priority, the needs of the workforce have too often been neglected.

The resources to avoid disconnects

Most of us will have experienced a disconnect between a brand’s glossy marketing messaging and the reality of engaging with their customer service employees. At best, the two experiences may not quite match up, at worst it may become evident that the employee has not been given the training and/or resources to stay in tune with the company’s front-end promises. These companies are missing, or at least neglecting, the inextricable link between EX and CX. Forbes Insights conducted a survey of EX and CX leaders in the US, and 70% agreed there was a correlation between improved employee and customer experience.

As cutting-edge CX technologies are rolled out apace, employees are often expected to provide appropriate back-up service using antiquated in-house systems not fit for purpose in today’s world. Outdated intranets and antiquated CRM software are no match for the demands and powers of the of new generation of digitally empowered consumers who expect new standards and a much higher level of satisfaction.

It may be a cliché that all an organisation’s employees are marketers, ambassadors for their brand, but that this is grounded in truth has perhaps become even more evident in an age where digital touchpoints have become so central to the customer journey. Ensuring the consumer’s experience remains seamless when they do need to leave the digital domain and seek human interaction and service will become increasingly challenging and critical to a brand’s, and its employees’, success and wellbeing.

Negative feedback

Unhappy, ill-equipped and disgruntled employees may themselves turn to the digital realm to express their disappointment. Workplaces have become as open to online review as hotels and restaurants. Taking into account this real-world feedback on recruitment sites or social media is now the norm for prospective employees as they consider applying for vacancies. A company’s marketing not only needs to reach its customer base but also these potential team members, and in both cases the promises need to be backed by reality. Providing the workforce with appropriate technologies, sophisticated systems and the necessary training to maximise their use, have become keystones of an organisation’s reputation and success.

For the marketers to achieve holy grail of a seamless, satisfying CX, the same goals must first be targeted to their own teams. CX and EX must share the same principles and the same mission statement. To be truly meaningful and impactful, these need to be grounded in shared realities, not mere slogans. Redundant internal systems, lack of cohesion between outward and inward messaging and the resultant employee disenchantment are recipes for disconnects at critical customer touchpoints. The same voice must be used internally and externally. Employees need to believe in the brand before they can adequately represent it and they need to be properly equipped and trained to do so.

EX and CX in harmony

By providing fit-for-purpose in-house resources a brand can offer a truly seamless experience, not just a veneered illusion of one. Harmonised internal and external communications have become even more important as the online business world continues to evolve, with internet-savvy customers serviced by a fast-growing number of remote workers. All employees need access to their brand’s information quickly and accurately, the cutting-edge systems and technologies necessary to provide service excellence to the customer and therefore to add invaluable momentum to their brand’s reputation. This is true not just for the sales and marketing teams but for all employees and in particular those whose functions include communication with the outside world. An advanced, efficient EX platform, designed to cope with the demands of the post-pandemic business landscape, is fundamental to such employee empowerment. Happy personnel with job satisfaction and pride in their brand means a better CX.

As the Forbes Insights report stated: “Great employee and customer experience boosts revenue. Growing companies focus on both employee and customer experience. Seventy-six percent of revenue growth leaders rank EX as top priority in the next three years as compared to 29% of the laggards.” Or, as a member of our own marketing management team puts it: “Employees are the key to success anywhere. When you speak about employee experience, they need to be invested in the overall success of their situation first, which naturally becomes a reflection of their approach and management of customers. If they are happy, the customers will be as well. We will go out of our way to make sure of that – if we know we are being heard and respected as well.”