In the business world, it’s become commonplace to improve relationships with customers by improving the customer experience. As products and services have become increasingly commoditised, providing the best customer experience has emerged as a key competitive differentiator. Companies vie for customer loyalty through personalized offerings, rewards programs, and one-to-one marketing initiatives—all in the name of increasing brand equity. And that’s as it should be. After all, customer loyalty drives business profitability.

However, in the quest to create exceptional experiences for customers, businesses often overlook a critical business fundamental: if you want happy customers, you have to have happy employees—and that comes from providing your employees with an exceptional experience too. Yet all too often there is a misalignment of one degree or another between the experience companies create for their customers and what their employees experience in their everyday work life. Who sees this misalignment better than anyone else? Employees.

The snowball effect

When companies shortchange employees in any number of ways, there’s a snowball effect. Employees become resentful and they disengage. That resentment and disengagement eventually finds its way to customers in the form of poor service and inferior products.

Adding to the disconnect is the fact that employees are customers too—of their company’s products, and potentially of competitors’ products as well. As an employer, wouldn’t you prefer your employees use and champion your products and services? If your relationship with them is poor, like any other customer, they’re likely to take their business elsewhere.

Treat employees like customers

Some forward-thinking companies have recognised that the foundation for a great customer experience is a great employee experience. Leading companies like Microsoft, Best Buy, and Capitol One are taking unique approaches to building relationships with employees, much like they’ve built relationships with customers.

Essentially, these companies know that the solution to the employee versus the customer experience disconnect is right in their wheelhouse—treat employees like customers. This effort pays off in more ways than one. Research has shown that a 10% increase in employee engagement levels can boost a company’s customer service levels by 5% and profits by 2%. Not only that, in 2015 a multi-year study by Glassdoor Research indicated companies with a high level of employee engagement out-perform the S&P 500 by 122%.

In my next post, I’m going take a deeper look into the seeds of experience-driven disengagement and show how it can impact your business.

For more information about aligning the employee and the customer experiences, please see:

Managing Your People as a Workforce of One

Is customer experience management futile without an employee engagement strategy?

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