If you focus only on your customers in an effort to provide the best customer experience (CX), you may be missing the big picture.
Increasingly, CX experts are taking a broader view of customer experience by examining the return on experience (ROX), a formula that measures CX plus the employee experience (EX). When you consider that the only contact many customers have with your organization is through your frontline employees—and that unhappy employees are more likely to deliver subpar customer service—the effect of EX on CX is immediately apparent. But EX warrants close attention for other reasons as well.
Feel the Churn
Employee turnover is at an all-time high. Like a very expensive revolving door, organizations spend valuable time and money interviewing, hiring, and training new employees only to have them leave after a couple months due to job dissatisfaction. When you factor in the knowledge these employees take with them when they leave—the brain drain—the costs of churn add up very quickly.
Job dissatisfaction can affect the bottom line in other ways as well. For example, a company’s contact center has the potential to be a revenue generator when it’s staffed by employees who are happy in their jobs. Satisfied employees are more likely to result in satisfied customers. Studies show that customers are willing to spend 16 to 20 percent more on a product or service if they feel well-treated. Additionally, when frontline employees believe in the companies for which they work, they’re more likely to persuade customers to purchase additional products and services.
It’s a Tough Job
Many frontline employees become dissatisfied—and downright unhappy—with their jobs because in an effort to improve CX, organizations neglect EX. In this age of chat bots and online bill pay, companies are making it easier for customers to take care of routine business quickly and efficiently, which is cost-effective and good for CX. However, this means that most customer calls are for more complex issues which call center reps may not have received sufficient training. Customers are easily frustrated when they can’t get their issues resolved easily and seamlessly, and employees are frustrated when they’re unable to perform their jobs well.
In my experience, I have too often encountered a dismissive mindset among upper management toward frontline employees. This is a huge mistake. Employees who bear the brunt of customer frustration, don’t feel empowered to perform their jobs well, and see a disconnect between the culture being touted by senior leaders and the reality they face daily simply won’t stay at an organization.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
So, what can you do to optimize your EX? I recommend examining your people, processes, data and technology.
- People: Are you hiring the right people or are you simply trying to fill positions with warm bodies? Your Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) should have the skills to perform their jobs effectively, and you should ensure that your job postings accurately describe the positions you’re seeking to fill. Additionally, ensuring diverse representation among your employees will help them better serve the needs of your customers, who likely range in age, race, gender and sexual orientation. Once you hire people, are you providing them with adequate training to start their jobs and continual training to advance to the next level? Invest in your employees—all your employees—and they’ll pay it back to you many times over.
- Processes: Are customers getting routed to the right CSR at the right time? Is a process in place for that CSR to seamlessly assist the customer? If I call a company about my bill and get routed to someone in order-entry, I’ll be frustrated and that CSR won’t necessarily be able to assist me.
- Data: Which customers are calling most frequently and why? Those two pieces of data alone can help your CSRs exponentially. If most of your customers call in when their internet goes down, perhaps that’s where you focus training for your CSRs (and/or build easier processes to resolve the issue).
- Technology: Are your systems antiquated and unwieldy? Do your CSRs have to engage with multiple systems to serve your customers? Providing a one-stop- (or one-click-) shop for your CSRs will make their work lives easier and your customers a lot happier.
Communication is Key
Surveying customers on their experiences with organizations is commonplace, but we should be surveying employees too. Soliciting their feedback—on their jobs, whether they’re getting the support they need from their managers, what the company might do differently—and then pushing this feedback upwards, will help address the needs of your employees and make them feel heard.
Additionally, disseminating company-wide information to your frontline employees is critical to making them feel like valued members of your organization. And taking the time to publicly celebrate professional goals, in addition to birthdays and work anniversaries, will go a long way toward creating a culture of satisfied employees.
Remember: Ensuring the satisfaction of employees throughout your organization will create an army of brand advocates who will drive value and success for your customers, and ultimately, your bottom line.