Top tips on how to merge customer and employee experience

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Top tips on how to merge customer and employee experience
Bringing customer and employee experience together is still a relatively greenfield space.
Photo by HalGatewood.com on Unsplash

While customer experience certainly isn’t a new concept, what is new is the link between customer (CX) and employee experience (EX)?

Over the past few years, there’s been an upward trend for ‘want’ versus ‘need’ spending from Australian consumers. For businesses, this has meant the quality of customer experience has begun to play a critical role in an organisation’s success or failure. 

Traditionally, CX and EX have been looked at as separate functions of a business but now, many are realising they are intrinsically linked and very much reliant on one another - if the business is not performing well on one side, it’s likely the other will suffer.

Understanding the importance of this connection isn't enough though. Businesses must now look for ways to seamlessly merge their customer and employee experience efforts and create meaningful change in behaviours across the business. Here are a few top tips to support you on the way.

Answering “why should I care?” and “why am I here?”

Defining a businesses’ purpose is one of the most important milestones. If this isn’t done – either internally to employees, externally to customers or both – issues are bound to arise. With this being said, the first step to successfully merging customer and employee experience is to focus on developing the company's purpose. Customers need a clear and well defined answer to “why should I care?” while employees need to deeply believe in their answer to “why am I here?”.

As an example, at Freshworks, we live by our purpose to ‘create delightful experiences for customers and employees alike’. Having a common shared goal is vital in the day-to-day, creating a strong bond that both employees and customers share, but even more so when a crisis, such as the pandemic, hits. The purpose ultimately serves as the glue holding everything together.

Leading from the top down 

When it comes to making decisions, when these are led from the top down it allows leaders to be clear on goals and expectations as well as being aligned on what the strategic direction is. Successfully merging customer and employee experience isn’t something that happens overnight and it requires dedication and continued improvement to get it right. That’s why leading this approach from the top down can play a vital role in driving change and empowering and educating the entire organisation. That’s not to say there isn’t a time and place for company-wide collaboration - this should be integral - but ultimately, big decisions must be led by the leadership team to drive change forward.

Small steps are better than none

In 1969 American astronaut Neil Armstrong put his left foot on the lunar surface and infamously declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Small steps can go a long way in creating impactful change.

The point being that even if your business isn’t yet ready to take great strides to merge customer and employee experience, it doesn’t mean you should give up on making progress. When it comes down to it, one small step can make a big difference, and who knows what positive impact that single decision will make?

Something that can be controlled very easily by business leaders is the ability to raise awareness of and set expectations that an integrated customer and employee experience approach should be incorporated. This initiative-level effort introduces a way to build momentum and share the value of integrated experiences for employees and customers as well as paving the way for wider adoption down the track.

Encourage and support experimentation

Bringing customer and employee experience together is still a relatively greenfield space. In this stage of maturity, leaders need to encourage teams to experiment and understand which levers of customer and employee experience result in changes to the business. Because there’s no blueprint for this work, as leaders you need to lean into this new way of learning by signaling that experimentation is a positive and that learning from unexpected outcomes is valuable. It’s just not possible to gain new insights and the agility that comes from rapid cycles of learning in an environment that demands perfection.

According to Harvard Business Review, when customer and employee experience are managed together, they create a unique, sustainable competitive advantage. While both may have traditionally been looked at as separate entities, the time to merge the two and focus on driving real impact across the business has never been greater. Ultimately, it’ll be your customers and employees thanking you.

Sreelesh Pillai is Freshworks' General Manager of Australia.

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