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Your customers’ experience is directly related to your employees’ experience, and with employee engagement levels as low as they are, customer experience is likely to suffer.
While low employee engagement is problematic, it’s not exactly surprising. It’s not uncommon for employees to see their managers as unapproachable slave drivers that are constantly telling them that if they have time to learn, they have time to clean. By treating employees like inexhaustible automatons, managers will create disengaged, robotic workers who care little for the company, and even less about the customers that it wants to attract.
Focusing on keeping your employees happy and engaged is both good general practice and good for business. If you want to create a better customer experience, it is important to develop employee training aimed at boosting employee engagement.
Your employees are your front line. If they have a bad experience with the company, so will your potential customers. We can learn a lot employee engagement best practices from the customer experience process to improve employee training, which will create better customer experience.
Employee engagement best practices: do your research
Customer experience doesn’t start with your employees, but it may end with them. Many companies are spending more time and money to deeply understand the customer experience process, but often they don’t spend the time and money to understand the employee experience process. Luckily, it is easy to adapt the methods used to research customer experience as a method to improve the employee experience.
As you prepare to map the employee experience, you will need to interview employees, perhaps hiring someone outside the company to ensure anonymous and honest results. As the Harvard Business Review notes, research on customer experience is laborious and takes time, but it’s worth it. To improve, you must understand exactly what needs improving. Researching your employees’ experience will prompt important questions and the data you collect, including employees’ ideas and suggestions, will be valuable as you update existing or create new training programs.
One way we learn about customer experience is through customer satisfaction surveys. Give your employees the same opportunity for feedback by requesting detailed feedback periodically after trainings and meetings. Create truly anonymous and confidential surveys to find out what employees really think. Make sure to address common complaints, try to adopt good suggestions, and empower employees to help with training to ensure that major issues are addressed.
Employee engagement best practices: employee experience equals customer experience
A positive customer experience that drives sales is the end goal. Chances are you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about customer experience. Leverage this knowledge to identify areas where customer experience overlaps with employee experience. This is a good starting place for developing employee onboarding around direct customer experience.
That said, the time your employees spend away from customers, completing a variety of tasks necessary for your business to function, is equally important for customer experience. Remember that your employees are people. If they’re uninspired, bored, tired, overworked, undervalued, undertrained, etc., their attitudes will overflow into their interactions with customers.
A solid understanding of the different ways that your corporate culture and policies affect employees, both positively and negatively, is an important step towards fostering a positive customer experience. For example, Wells Fargo, until recently, had difficult to achieve sales performance quotas that prompted many employees to defraud customers in order to hit those goals. Wells Fargo responded by firing 5,300 employees.
If, instead, Wells Fargo understood the employee experience, they could have avoided public embarrassment by adjusting their quotas and providing training and support to employees to help them achieve their goals without breaking both the law and the trust of their customers.
Employee engagement best practices: map the journey
What are the key processes you take your employees through? Concepts like hiring, onboarding, HR training, brand training, skills training, and performance reviews are crucial to employee development, but how can they be used to help improve employee engagement?
While a customer journey map tracks the life-cycle of a customer, an employee journey map can track all of the above or target specific employee journeys. During the mapping process, you will identify policies, processes, and customer touchpoints that affect employee engagement. These are key areas to focus on when developing more effective employee training.
Mapping the journey is important for fully understanding the employee experience. Smith+Co, advising on mapping the customer experience, recommends identifying pain points, opportunities, and touch-points before outlining what should happen at each touch-point and considering the implications of implementation. These same concepts can be applied to mapping the employee experience.
Putting the employee engagement best practices into action
Take what you’ve learned and start reimagining your employee training. Feedback from employees will help identify key areas for improving everything from onboarding to explicit skills training.
Your understanding of the customer experience will provide insight into how customers feel about their experience with employees, which you can turn into teachable moments in your training.
Listen to your employees, try to implement their ideas where appropriate, and support their continued engagement with the company and your customers.
Finally, creating a detailed map of employee journeys will more clearly highlight areas for improvement for both customer-facing and non-customer-facing employee experiences.
Photo courtesy of srv007 via Creative Commons.