Want to improve the customer experience? Invest in the employee experience

Updated: Jul 16

Customer experience (CX) is one of the most important things in a business, and leaders rightfully put it at the top of the agenda: The best performers in terms of CX have a 570% higher revenue than those who lag behind on their CX initiatives.



And it’s not just companies who have poor CX that can benefit from investing in improving it. Even the best performers can realize important gains from working on making CX even better.


For this, you need to:

  • Understand what it takes to get even better

  • See what levers you can pull to achieve that


And if you’re committed to continuously improving the experience of your customers, there’s an important piece of the puzzle that you might be overlooking: the experience of your own employees, or otherwise said, how your employees feel about working with you. That’s also one of the most powerful levers you can pull to improve CX.


In this article, we’ll look into the link between customer experience and employee experience, and see how you can influence the former by improving the latter.


The link between customer and employee experience


The customer experience and the employee experience are tightly interlinked, but the relation between the two is something that companies often overlook.


So let’s look into the details.

EX drives CX


Happy employees perform better and are better equipped to delight your customers.


Companies with the highest Glassdoor ratings also performed best in terms of customer satisfaction, as measured by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), according to the Harvard Business Review. Each additional star in Glassdoor translated into an up to 2.6% increase of customer satisfaction. The impact was particularly pronounced for industries where employees interact with customers a lot and often.


In a survey by IDC, 85% of surveyed businesses confirmed that a better employee experience translated into an improved customer experience, customer satisfaction, and revenues. For many (62%) the impact was important.


Employee experience has a direct impact on revenue


Is there a better way to measure the impact of any company-wide initiative on the health of a company’s performance than to look at revenue?


A better employee experience, as measured by amount of time in the company, skills, and overall satisfaction, translated into 50% higher revenue per person hour worked for customer-facing roles in retail, according to a study by HBR.


In another study, companies who invested in EX realized 4 times more profit per employee than those who didn’t, and a revenue that was twice as high. Data depends a lot on the industry and specific ways to measure results, but the overall trend is clear: EX helps improve profitability by improving the customer experience.


Why putting your employees first is crucial for customer satisfaction


Companies who put the employee experience at the forefront of their efforts to improve customer experience, see a definite improvement in both. According to McKinsey & Company, this is usually achieved through a combination of four approaches that businesses can adopt:


  • Listen to their employees to identify what they really need

  • Hire for attitude, not just for aptitude, and invest in employee development

  • Instill and foster a sense of shared purpose and clear vision

  • Provide workers with enough autonomy and responsibility to stimulate innovative thinking


These four approaches help build the foundation of CX success, as they create a sense of direction, ownership, and responsibility in meeting customers’ demands and expectations, and show your employees that first, you value them, and second, see them eye-to-eye.


We can also add that the relationship between EX and CX goes both ways: Getting positive feedback from customers and seeing customer satisfaction metrics improve over time makes employees feel the value of their work and adds to good EX. This, in turn, helps them create and deliver better products and services for their customers.


But it's not an equal dependency: Great customer experience usually does not come on its own or randomly, but is a result of creating great products and services first. Which are created by your employees. So, in order to get the EX<>CX flywheel going, EX should come first.


Companies looking to make CX improvements should look at EX as an important lever that can enable it, which we’ll discuss in the next section.


How to use the employee experience as a lever to improve the customer experience


Any company that has customer-facing employees can benefit from investing into a comprehensive EX management strategy and use the employee experience as a lever to improve the customer experience.


Let’s see exactly how this can be achieved.


Build a people-centric organization


One of the best ways to make your business more customer-centric is to concentrate on your employees and build a people-centric organization. What does people-centric mean, though?


“To be people-centric is to think about how your people want to work and what inspires and motivates them to do the work.”

(Inpulse)


Otherwise said, being people-centric means investing in your employees and putting them at the top of your priority list. For this, you need to move from managing to empowering people, and look closely at how they want to work.


We’ve described in detail some of the things employees want, and also explained how to create a transformational strategy to get leadership buy-in in our article on becoming people-centric.


Simplify processes and eliminate manual admin work


One of the most hated tasks of knowledge workers is manual data entry. In fact, 85% of employees would leave you for another, more forward-looking employer who makes their life easier using smart automation.


Additionally, knowledge workers spend up to 47% of their time on two non-core tasks that are true productivity drains: email and searching for information.


To tackle this, you need to eliminate manual admin work and simplify processes as much as possible.


How can you do that? With a modern employee platform that automates employee operations, simplifies admin processes, and reduces friction and distractions to a minimum.


Equip your employees with the best tools


Enable your employees to do their best possible job and you’ll inevitably see your customer experience improve.


"Enablement: The process of providing a particular type of equipment or technology, or the necessary or correct system, device, or arrangement to use it"

(Cambridge dictionary)


For this, you need to equip your workforce with the best possible tools. Some examples include:

  • A modern employee platform like Zelt that eliminates manual admin work

  • Productivity tools with excellent UX like ClickUp, Asana, Zapier

  • Low-code development platforms like Mendix

  • Convenient workspace systems like Google Workspace

  • Modern and performant hardware though a platform like Hofy


Facilitate remote and hybrid work


One of the best ways to improve employee productivity and satisfaction is to give your workers the choice to define how, when, and where they want to work. According to a survey by FlexJobs, up to 97% of employees want to be able to work remotely at least a part of the time.


Serving customers remotely might come with its own challenges, but communication is at the heart of tackling them all. For this reason, it’s crucial to have a modern, cloud-based employee platform that:

  • Consolidates all the right communication channels in one

  • Lets you communicate with your employees

  • Gives them access to all the information and company resources they need


In order to keep customers’ needs in the center of attention when discussing CX with your remote employees, according to Harvard Business Review, you should:


  1. Talk about specific customers and interactions, and not just about the abstract notion of “our customers” as a whole

  2. Always think about the ways each decision will impact customers

  3. Get non-customer-facing employees involved in customer meetings occasionally to strengthen everyone’s involvement with customer success

Make onboarding easy


To help employees get up to speed and be able to provide customers with the best possible service early on in their employee journey, you need to make onboarding as easy and as possible: New employees of organizations that have a standardized and efficient onboarding process are 62% more productive at the beginning of their employee journey.


Collect in a single hub everything that employees need for their onboarding, and make sure they have access to all the tools and information they need to do their job.


This improves the employee experience significantly, as it shows your employees you value their time and have the right processes in place to help them be productive and provide excellent customer service. It also improves the efficiency of your operations, which will inevitably impact the customer experience, as well.


Provide a clear roadmap and definition of success


Your employees want to be treated like adults and know exactly what they need to do to be successful, rather than fear being scolded for a mistake they didn’t know they made.


So, provide a clear roadmap and definition of success for every role – and explain the impact of everyone’s work on the overall customer experience.

In addition to that, you need to create a safe environment where employees are not afraid to fail or make mistakes. Let them gain enough experience, so they can get the confidence to move fast and be creative: That’s where the magic happens.


To instill a safe-to-fail culture, you need to look at every mistake – yours included – as a learning experience and discuss it with the team to draw meaningful conclusions. By making mistakes a regular discussion topic at meetings, you’ll make failure feel less intimidating and enable your team to experiment, stray out of the status quo, and come up with innovative solutions.


Measure both EX and CX


What are the customer experience metrics that you’re currently tracking? How do you measure their impact on profitability?


Revenue data, people data, and customer data are rarely analyzed together: Usually, financial data sits with the finance department, data about employees’ engagement, performance, and satisfaction is managed by HR, and data about customers is usually scattered across a few separate silos, such as sales, account management, or customer service.


To make sure you’re making meaningful progress on both fronts, you need to:


  • Analyze CX and EX together

  • Look into both CX and EX’s impact on revenue

  • Adapt the next steps to your current results


To improve the customer experience, invest in your employees first


Customer experience doesn’t exist in isolation, and cannot be improved without looking at the big picture. Creating a connection with each customer and ensuring that they’re satisfied after every interaction takes more than simply understanding what customers want: It takes a highly motivated workforce.


Placing your employees at the center of your operations and equipping them with the right tools to do their jobs, while minimizing friction and manual work are key to this.