To create a positive customer experience, you must start by putting your employees first. Delight them and you will delight your customers.
According to research by Demand Metric Corporation, organizations with over 50% employee engagement retain over 80% of their customers. Why is this important? It’s quite simple; if employees aren’t engaged, it’s difficult for them to delight customers. It’s a reflection of the well-documented psychiatric “spillover effect”—the tendency of one person’s emotions to affect how other people around them feel. How employees feel has broad implications for the organization—both externally and internally.
Given the increasingly complex way customers interact with us today, it is more of a challenge than ever to deliver a great customer experience. The move from laptop to mobile and tablets is yesterday’s news, with wearables and home devices becoming more commonplace. Graphical interfaces are going from two dimensions to three—and being augmented by voice or even entirely eliminated by devices like Amazon Echo. With technology innovation occurring at such breakneck speed, the enterprise can no longer dictate what interfaces to support. Your customers—and your employees—will be doing that for you.
Customers navigating this tricky technology landscape need all the help they can get—and a great resource is your employees. Therefore, it’s essential that from the top down, the entire organization gets in the mindset of putting employees first. Surely you already value your employees—but you need to approach every employee as a consumer. Your employees are probably your toughest customers, and if you can satisfy them you are more likely to satisfy your “real” customers.
What can you expect if you do not include employees in the customer experience journey? Internally, tech savvy employees can easily bypass devices and application channels set by IT, creating shadow IT scenarios rife with security risks. That’s only the beginning. Lack of employee engagement costs money—lots of it. A Towers Perrin employee engagement study found that organizations with a highly-engaged workforce increased operating income by 19.2% while those with low engagement rates suffered a 32.7% decline in operating profits. With personal and business time continuing to blend, enabling easy access to apps, systems and data—regardless of where employees are and what channels they are using—is becoming a business imperative.
It follows that IT must embrace the “employee-first” notion as well. Surveys show that IT decision makers who seek ways to empower employees shorten time to market and reinforce better quality decision-making. And, when business staff can assume low-level tasks that would otherwise be clogging the technical team’s queue, IT can refocus on making more strategic contributions that advance business value.
Treating employees as customers is a win-win for everyone. Employees will be more engaged, directly affecting customer retention. Speaking of retention, engaged employees will stay longer, having a positive effect on your organization’s retention rates. And the enthusiasm of engaged employees, especially customer-facing employees, puts your organization in a strong position to create unique customer experiences that build customer engagement and business value.
So, as you are creating great self-service, cross-channel customer experiences, consider putting your employees first—they will be your best champions moving forward.
Mark Troester is the Vice President of Strategy at Progress. He guides the strategic go-to-market efforts for the Progress cognitive-first strategy. Mark has extensive experience in bringing application development and big data products to market. Previously, he led product marketing efforts at Sonatype, SAS and Progress DataDirect. Before these positions, Mark worked as a developer and developer manager for start-ups and enterprises alike. You can find him on LinkedIn or @mtroester on Twitter.