Businesses of all sizes are always looking for an opportunity to improve their customer experience (CX).
Many companies focus on building new features and services that provide their customers with greater convenience, flexibility, and/or control. Others are beginning to see the benefit in looking internally at their employees, to nurture their growth in hopes that their CX prospers as a byproduct of their efforts. This second cohort of companies is focused on using creative culture-building techniques to produce well-rounded employees that are more inclined to supplement the company’s efforts in creating an optimal CX.
The fact remains that employees who aren't motivated to get the job done as per their company’s and customer’s expectations, can bring down an entire company. By fostering a positive, energetic work environment that is built around employee engagement, businesses of all sizes can help drive the CX in the right direction. Let’s review some of the most important links between employee engagement and CX are, which companies have had success in focusing on employee wellbeing, and how your company can embody a culture of engagement too.
How Companies are Addressing Employee Engagement and CX?
It's no big surprise that companies that take an active interest in the wellbeing and happiness of their employees find it easier to attract the best talent. Sadly, it’s often only after an employee has left the company that you realize just how much they contributed. What’s worse is that one in five new employees will leave their job within the first 90 days and one in four CFOs say that unwanted turnover accounts for 25% to 50% of labor costs.
Shane Petersen, Head of Customer Operations at Shell, says it best in his statement that, “without happy employees, you won’t have engaged employees. And, a lack of engagement has a direct impact on CX.” This goes to show that customers will never love a company until it shows that it loves their employees just as much as their customers. Let’s look at some companies that embody a culture of positive employee engagement and how that has worked out for them recently.
Customer satisfaction has been shown time and again to be directly linked to employee satisfaction and financial success. Therefore, employee engagement is indirectly linked to financial performance for the business as a whole. A recent Gartner survey found that 86% of CX executives ranked employee engagement as having an equal or greater impact than other factors such as project management and data skills. These are the types of skills that have helped revolutionary companies like Toyota Motor North America and Starbucks become more organized and focused on initiatives that are dedicated to helping improve their CX.
Toyota Motor North America
Toyota Motor North America is more than just an automaker. They're constantly looking for ways to make our roads safe and pave the way for the future of mobility. This mentality goes far beyond the production lines and showrooms. It starts and ends with how the company develops strong communication channels between employee groups that aim to reward and recognize positive attributes.
Toyota also deals a lot in learning and development trainings where leadership encourages employees to find ways to give back to the community and reflect on Toyota’s values in the process. Toyota Motor North America’s CFO, Tracey Doi, says that by making every team member feel valued, “they will be passionate about what they are doing, and that will translate to higher-quality manufacturing as well as customer service on our marketing and sales operation.” This passion can be a huge driver for customers to continue coming back to an organization that they can relate to in the real people that they interact with, rather than just the company’s advertising.
Starbucks continues to show customers that the needs of its employees are valued which has allowed the coffee giant’s revenue to increase dramatically from less than $7 billion in revenue in 2005 to over $26 billion in revenue from June 2018 to June 2019. The company prides itself on taking care of its employees through initiatives such as stock options, competitive wages, education reimbursements, quality training, and health benefits. Starbucks has completely bought into the ideology that happy employees can naturally create a more welcoming atmosphere for their customers, thereby improving their CX in the process.
In short, diehard Starbucks fans like the company because they like the way it treats its employees which shows in the way their employees treat their customers. The reason for this is because happy employees create less friction on the backend processes. Less resistance on the backend allows staff to feel better about their job and the value they provide which also translates into a better experience for the customer.
Keeping Employees More Engaged = Improved CX
The White House Office of Consumer Affairs found that 80% of US consumers would pay more for a product or service if it meant that they would receive a superior CX as a result. As the U.S. Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) continues to decline with no signs of rebounding, one can understand how consumers are now more selective about where and what they spend their hard-earned money on. When consumers catch wind of companies that treat their employees with respect and value their opinions, input, and efforts on how to make the business better, they tend to spend more money on that company’s products or services.
On the flip side, when employees are unhappy in their current roles for whatever reasons, it can lead to dips in productivity, lost sales, and additional recruitment and onboarding costs that can eat into the company’s bottom line. With less profits coming from a deteriorated workforce, the organization’s CX can diminish and create deep seated morale issues that can decrease the chances that the company can respond to market changes in an agile manner. By focusing on creating a corporate culture that employees feel proud of being a part of because it embodies their individual values, they tend to be happier, and less likely to leave and contribute to higher turnover rates.
Natalie Baumgartner, Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers says that, “you have to take care of your employees if you want them to take care of your customers” which is incredibly true as data shows that only 31.5% of employees in the U.S. report they are engaged in their work. In the end, when employees finally understand how they can make a difference, they will find their work more inspiring and engaging, thereby trickling down to the customer side and leading to a more empathetic, real CX.
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